Background: Media representation of vaccine side effects impacts the success of immunization programs globally. Exposure to the media can cause individuals to feel hesitant toward, or even refuse, vaccines. This study aimed to explore the impact of the media on beliefs and behaviors regarding vaccines and vaccine side effects in an urban clinic in Vietnam.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted in an urban vaccination clinic in Hanoi, Vietnam from November 2015 to March 2016. The primary outcomes of this study were the decisions of Vietnamese subjects after hearing about adverse effects of immunizations (AEFIs) in the media. Socio-demographic characteristics as well as beliefs regarding vaccination were also investigated. Multivariate logistic regression was used to identify factors associated with subjects' behaviors regarding vaccines.
Results: Among 429 subjects, 68.2% of them said they would be hesitant about receiving vaccines after hearing about AEFIs, while 12.4% of subjects said they would refuse vaccines altogether after hearing about AEFIs. Wealthy individuals (OR=0.41; 95% CI=0.19-0.88), and those who displayed trust in government-distributed vaccines (OR=0.20; 95% CI=0.06-0.72) were less likely to display hesitancy regarding vaccination. Receiving information from community health workers (OR=0.44; 95% CI=0.20-0.99) and their relatives, colleagues, and friends (OR=0.47; 95% CI=0.25-0.88) was negatively associated with vaccine hesitancy, but facilitated vaccine refusal after reading about AEFIs in the media (OR=3.12; 95% CI=1.10-8.90 and OR=3.75; 95% CI=1.56-9.02, respectively).
Conclusion: Our results reveal a significantly high rate of vaccine hesitancy and refusal among subjects living in an urban setting in Vietnam, after hearing about AEFIs in the media. Vietnam needs to develop accurate information systems in the media about immunizations, to foster increased trust between individuals, health care professionals, and the Vietnamese government.
Keywords: Vietnam; health literacy; mass media; media; vaccination.