Why do some Korean parents hesitate to vaccinate their children?

Epidemiol Health. 2019;41:e2019031. doi: 10.4178/epih.e2019031. Epub 2019 Jul 9.


Objectives: Vaccinations for infectious diseases are opposed despite their achievement, and this opposition has recently been revealed in Korea. However, research in Korea has not been vigorous. The authors studied why some Korean parents hesitate to vaccinate their children by applying the health belief model.

Methods: Parents who hesitate to vaccinate and parents who do not were surveyed in alternative education preschools and elementary schools. They were classified into four types of hesitancy and statistically compared.

Results: Among the 129 subjects, 43 vaccinated without hesitancy, 20 vaccinated on time with hesitancy, 32 vaccinated with a deliberate delay of one month or longer, and 34 did not vaccinate. Vaccination increased with an increase in the awareness that severe outcomes can occur when unvaccinated. Concerns about adverse reactions from vaccinations or direct/indirect experiences affected refusal. Furthermore, perceptions of the lack of meaningfulness of vaccinations, distrust of policy and safety management, influence of leaders or activists in joined organizations, and experts of Korean traditional or alternative medicine affected refusal. Explanations by doctors, text messages and mails from institutions, and concerns about disadvantages caused by not complying with government policies increased vaccination.

Conclusions: The reasons for vaccine hesitancy and acceptance were similar to the results of international research. Health authorities and professionals should communicate sufficiently and appropriately with hesitant parents and find ways to rationally resolve social conflicts. However, this sample was small and there is little Korean research, so more in-depth and diverse researchs are needed.

Keywords: Health belief model; Korea; Vaccination refusal; Vaccine hesitancy.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Psychological
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Republic of Korea
  • Treatment Refusal / statistics & numerical data
  • Vaccination / psychology*
  • Vaccination / statistics & numerical data