Persuading parents to accept a new vaccine seems not to be easy even if they are health care workers, according to a Turkish study. Concern about side effects was the most reported reason health care workers in Turkey gave for not vaccinating their children against the swine flu during the 2009 pandemic.

Health care workers who were parents of children aged 6 months-18 years were included in the study.  Only 21 percent reported they had vaccinated their children, while two-thirds said they would not vaccinate them and 13 percent were undecided at the time of the study. Although the vaccination rate among children whose parents were doctors was higher than the children whose parents were nurses or support staff, the study suggested that even doctors, who are the most educated health care workers, were resistant to vaccinating their children against the  pandemic influenza A/H1N1.

The most reported source of information about pandemic influenza was the media (83 percent). Nearly one-third of the participants reported the media as their only source of information about the H1N1 flu. The other most reported sources were Turkish Ministry of Health (49.6 percent), colleagues/doctors (49.4 percent), World Health Organization (13.6 percent), and educational seminars by local health authorities (11.1 percent).

Evidence-based scientific sources and health authorities instead of the media should be the primary information source of health care providers, the study authors said.

An important proportion (43 percent) of the parents reported that did not trust in the suggestions of the Turkish Ministry of Health about the pandemic influenza. Lack of confidence in the Ministry of Health probably came from the fact that the Turkish prime minister had declared that neither he nor his family would get the h1n1 vaccine.

Providing better education about vaccines is important because decisions that health care workers make are likely to influence the decision of patients and the teachers and parents of their children’s classmates, according to the study.

Source:
1. Torun SD, Torun F, Catak B. Healthcare workers as parents: attitudes toward vaccinating their children against pandemic influenza A/H1N1. BMC Public Health 2010; 10: 596. (open access)

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