What maintains parental support for vaccination when challenged by anti-vaccination messages? A qualitative study

Vaccine. 2006 Nov 30;24(49-50):7238-45. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2006.05.010. Epub 2006 May 23.


This study sought to explore how parents respond to competing media messages about vaccine safety. Six focus groups with mothers of infants were shown television vignettes of typical pro- and anti-vaccination claims. Thematic analysis of transcripts was undertaken. Mothers expressed surprise and concern about alleged vaccine risks but quickly reinstated their support for vaccination by deference to authority figures; type-casting immunisation opponents; and notions of anticipatory regret, good parenting and social responsibility. We conclude that personal experiences, value systems and level of trust in health professionals are fundamental to parental decision making about vaccination. Vaccination advocacy should increase the focus on matters of process such as maintaining trust and public confidence, particularly in health professionals. Stories about people affected by vaccine-preventable diseases need to re-enter the public discourse.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Humans
  • Mass Media
  • Mass Vaccination* / ethics
  • Mothers
  • Parents*
  • Physicians
  • Public Health* / ethics
  • Risk
  • Television
  • Trust
  • Vaccination / adverse effects*