Parents make vaccination decisions before pregnancy

Parents who were more educated about vaccines were more likely to make a decision before conception.
Parents who were more educated about vaccines were more likely to make a decision before conception.

Almost 75% of parents decide on vaccination preferences for their baby before they become pregnant, according to research presented at the Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference and Exhibition.

James N. Yarnall, MPH, lead investigator of the study and fourth year medical student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, presented the findings. The data suggest that it may be more effective to educate parents about vaccinations for their children before they become pregnant, he explained.

“Currently the vast majority of vaccine information and education is given after the birth of the child, usually during the clinic visits when the vaccination shots are given. However, we may be giving this information too late, long after most parents start thinking about vaccines for their child,” Mr Yarnall said in an AAP press release about the findings.

The study included 170 mothers and fathers from the postpartum ward at North Carolina Children's Hospital who had a baby between February and April 2015. Researchers asked the parents about their decisions for their child's vaccinations, and found that 72% started to develop vaccine preferences for their child before they became pregnant.

The data also showed that 77% of parents who already have children considered vaccines for their new baby before pregnancy. Among first-time parents, 66% of participants said they considered vaccines before their pregnancy.

The parents who talked about vaccination with their partner or who were more educated about the vaccines were more likely to make a decision about vaccines before conception. The results showed that advice from family and friends, medical staff, and medical organizations like the AAP and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were common influences for parents when deciding on vaccines.

The research team plans to continue research but conducting a multi-site study with the Better Outcomes through Research for Newborns (BORN) Network to determine vaccination knowledge and preferences on a national scale. 

Reference

  1. Yarnall J. Development of Vaccine Preferences in Parents of Newborns. Presented at: American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition Oct. 24-27, 2015. Washington, D.C.
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