Background: Despite the recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that children between the ages of 6 months and 18 years be vaccinated against influenza annually, vaccination rates remain suboptimal.
Objectives: This study was conducted to explore factors that influence parents' decisions regarding influenza vaccination for children aged 2 to 12 years, to quantify the relative importance of these factors, to identify an appropriate theoretical model for illustrating the relationships among these factors, and to characterize parents by their likelihood of vaccinating their children against influenza.
Methods: A quantitative Web-based survey was administered to a sample of parents from an online panel representative of the US population. Parents were stratified based on self-reported rates of their personal influenza vaccination (every year, sometimes, or never) and the age of their child (2-4 years or 5-12 years). The results were examined by parents' likelihood of vaccinating their child in the next year (high, medium, or low). Participants were asked to rank their agreement with statements representing various beliefs and perceptions about influenza and influenza vaccine on a scale from 1 = strongly agree to 5 = strongly disagree. Parents who indicated that they vaccinate their child every year were asked to select the drivers of their decision to vaccinate; parents who indicated that they never vaccinate their child were asked to select the barriers affecting their decision not to vaccinate; and parents who responded that they sometimes vaccinate their child were asked to select both the drivers and barriers affecting their decision. Participants were then asked to rank the importance of each driver or barrier on a scale from 1 = a little important to 5 = extremely important. Mean agreement ratings were calculated for parents' beliefs and perceptions about influenza and influenza vaccine and were compared across likelihood subgroups. Mean importance ratings of the drivers and barriers to vaccination were also calculated and compared across likelihood subgroups.
Results: The survey sample consisted of 500 parents; their mean (SD) age was 37.4 (6.82) years, 57.2% were female, and 78.2% were non-Hispanic white. Among those who reported that they vaccinated their child against influenza every year or sometimes, the major drivers of vaccination were prevention of influenza (95.1%), a doctor's recommendation (89.5%), and the desire to reduce influenza symptoms (83.3%). Among those who reported sometimes or never vaccinating their child against influenza, barriers to vaccination were more variable. The most common barriers were low perceived risk of influenza (46.0%), the perception that the vaccine caused influenza (44.0%), and side effects caused by the vaccine (36.6%). Distinct differences were found in beliefs and perceptions of influenza and influenza vaccine according to respondents' likelihood of vaccination. A high likelihood of vaccination was associated with a greater perceived threat of influenza and less concern about the efficacy and safety of the vaccine. Convenience was an important factor among parents with a medium likelihood of vaccination. The Health Belief Model was identified as an appropriate theoretical framework for illustrating the factors influencing parents' decision-making about influenza vaccination.
Conclusions: Prevention of influenza, reduction of influenza symptoms, and doctor recommendation were the main drivers of parents' decision to vaccinate their child against influenza. Barriers to vaccination were more variable and primarily included the risk of adverse effects and the perceived low risk of influenza. Increasing parents' awareness of the threat of influenza and the efficacy and safety of the vaccine, as well as improving the convenience of getting vaccinated, may help improve rates of pediatric influenza vaccination.
2010 Excerpta Medica Inc. All rights reserved.