General practitioners and vaccination of children presenting with a benign infection

Med Mal Infect. 2018 Feb;48(1):44-52. doi: 10.1016/j.medmal.2017.09.018. Epub 2017 Nov 4.


Purpose: To assess the self-reported vaccination behavior of general practitioners (GPs) when asked whether they would recommend the vaccination of a child presenting with a febrile uncomplicated common cold.

Methods: We performed a cross-sectional survey in 2014 on a national sample of GPs. GPs were randomly assigned to one of eight clinical vignettes, all describing a child presenting with an uncomplicated febrile common cold, but differing by age (4 or 11 months), temperature (38°C or 39°C), and the mother's emotional state (calm or worried). GPs were asked whether they would recommend immediate vaccination of the child with a hexavalent vaccine (diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, poliomyelitis, Haemophilus influenzae type b, and hepatitis B), or postpone it. We investigated the relation between the GPs' recommendation to vaccinate, the clinical vignette's variables, and the GPs' perceptions, attitudes, and practices toward vaccination in a multivariate model.

Results: Among the 1582 participating GPs, 6% recommended immediate vaccination. This behavior was more frequent with a temperature of 38°C rather than 39°C (10% vs. 3%, P<0.001). GPs who felt comfortable giving explanations about vaccine safety were more likely to recommend immediate vaccination of the febrile child (P=0.045), but none of the other GPs' characteristics were associated with their vaccination behavior.

Conclusions: Almost all GPs postponed the hexavalent vaccination of the febrile child presenting with an uncomplicated viral disease; fever being the major factor affecting their decision. More research is needed on vaccination responses in sick children, as well as clearer guidelines.

Keywords: Fever; Fièvre; General practitioner; Immunisation; Immunization; Médecin généraliste; Vaccination.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Child
  • Contraindications, Procedure
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Fever
  • General Practitioners / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Infections*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mothers / psychology
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vaccination*
  • Virus Diseases