Objective: To examine the vaccine safety concerns of African-American mothers who, despite concerns, have their children immunized.
Methods: Six focus groups of Atlanta-area African-American mothers who were very concerned about vaccine safety but whose children were fully vaccinated were conducted.
Results: Major factors influencing participants' concerns about immunizations included: lack of information and mistrust of the medical community and government. Factors that convinced parents to have their child immunized despite their concerns included social norms and/or laws supporting immunization and fear of the consequences of not immunizing. Suggestions given to reduce concerns included improving available information that addressed their concerns and provider-patient communication.
Conclusions: Addressing mothers' concerns about immunization is important both from an ethical perspective, in assuring that they are fully informed of the risks and benefits of immunizations, as well as from a practical one, in reducing the possibility that they will decide not to immunize their child. Changes in the childhood immunization process should be made to reduce parental concern about vaccine safety. Some changes that may be considered include improved provider communication about immunizations and additional tailored information about the necessity and safety of vaccines.