Background: Influenza immunization is recommended for adults >or=50 years, healthy children 6-59 months and individuals with a chronic medical condition.
Objectives: To compare respondents' perceptions of safety of immunization for children and adults both with and without chronic medical conditions.
Methods: We surveyed parents of 828 randomly selected healthy children aged 6-21 months of age from 5 pediatric practices in Denver, Colorado between August and October of 2003.
Results: The survey response rate was 57% (n=472). Although 65% of parents thought influenza immunization was safe for healthy 1 year olds, only 40% considered it safe for 1 year olds with a chronic condition. Similarly, 86% judged it safe in healthy 70 year olds versus 50% in 70 year olds with a chronic condition.
Conclusions: Educational efforts to encourage influenza immunization in individuals with chronic illnesses should highlight the message that a chronic medical condition is an indication for immunization and does not confer additional risk of complications from vaccination. Further research is needed to confirm and better understand the observed perception of vulnerability to adverse events of vaccines in those with chronic illness.