“Emphasizing societal benefits of vaccines has been linked to increased vaccination intentions in adults. It is unclear if this pattern holds for parents deciding whether to vaccinate their children,” explained Kristin S. Hendrix, PhD, of the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis, and colleagues in Pediatrics.
To assess the impact of message framing on intent to immunize, the investigators conducted a national online survey of 802 parents of infants aged 12 months and younger. Participants were randomly assigned to receive one of four vaccine messages:
- The CDC’s Vaccine Information Statement (VIS)
- VIS and information emphasizing the child benefits of MMR vaccination
- VIS and information emphasizing societal benefits of MMR vaccination
- VIS and information emphasizing the child and societal benefits of MMR vaccination
Parents responded with intention to vaccinate on a scale of 0 (extremely unlikely) to 100 (extremely likely).
Parents had a greater intent to seek MMR vaccination for their child when they received information emphasizing child benefits (mean intention, 91.6; P=0.01) or child and societal benefits (mean intention, 90.8; P=0.03) rather than the VIS only (mean intention, 86.3).
Parents did not have increased intentions to seek MMR vaccination for their child when the emphasis of the message was societal benefit (mean intention, 86.4; P=0.97) compared with the VIS only.
“We did not see increases in parents’ MMR vaccine intentions for their infants when societal benefits were emphasized without mention of benefits directly to the child,” wrote the researchers.