Rates of delay and refusal of recommended childhood vaccines are increasing in many U.S. communities. Children's health care providers have a strong influence on parents' knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs about vaccines. Provider attitudes towards immunizations vary and affect their immunization advocacy. One factor that may contribute to this variability is their familiarity with vaccine-preventable diseases and their sequelae. The purpose of this study was to investigate the association of health care provider year of graduation with vaccines and vaccine-preventable disease beliefs. We conducted a cross sectional survey in 2005 of primary care providers identified by parents of children whose children were fully vaccinated or exempt from one or more school immunization requirements. We examined the association of provider graduation cohort (5 years) with beliefs on immunization, disease susceptibility, disease severity, vaccine safety, and vaccine efficacy. Surveys were completed by 551 providers (84.3% response rate). More recent health care provider graduates had 15% decreased odds of believing vaccines are efficacious compared to graduates from a previous 5 year period; had lower odds of believing that many commonly used childhood vaccines were safe; and 3.7% of recent graduates believed that immunizations do more harm than good. Recent health care provider graduates have a perception of the risk-benefit balance of immunization, which differs from that of their older counterparts. This change has the potential to be reflected in their immunization advocacy and affect parental attitudes.
Keywords: health care provider/services; health care surveys; vaccines.