Parental perceptions surrounding risks and benefits of immunization

Semin Pediatr Infect Dis. 2003 Jul;14(3):207-12. doi: 10.1016/s1045-1870(03)00035-9.


In recent years, parental concerns about vaccine safety have increased as the threat of disease has decreased. A national survey showed that, in general, parents agree that vaccines benefit their children and that their children may be at risk for contracting a disease if unvaccinated. When asked about understanding the benefits and risks of vaccines, most parents (57%) found numbers and statistics most helpful. A substantial minority (17%) of parents were somewhat or not confident in vaccine safety. Parents less confident in vaccine safety agreed less with the statement that they usually followed the advice of their child's doctor. Incomes and education levels affected responses. This positive relationship between confidence in vaccine safety and reliance on doctors for advice may indicate the need for healthcare providers to identify opportunities to (1) solicit questions about vaccine safety, (2) address vaccine safety-related questions in a way meaningful to parents, and (3) strengthen doctor-patient relationships. A parent communication tool is proposed.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude to Health*
  • Child
  • Educational Status
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Income / statistics & numerical data
  • Parents / education
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Risk Assessment
  • Vaccination / adverse effects
  • Vaccination / psychology*
  • Vaccines* / adverse effects


  • Vaccines