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J Natl Med Assoc. Aug 2004; 96(8): 1047–1050.
PMCID: PMC2568475

Parental beliefs about vaccination among an ethnically diverse inner-city population.

Abstract

To characterize the knowledge and attitudes of an ethnically diverse group of inner-city parents regarding childhood immunizations, we conducted structured telephone interviews with 102 primary caretakers at an academic ambulatory pediatric practice during the winter of 2001-2002. The sample was ethnically diverse, with 36% African-American, 41% Hispanic, and 15% white. Half the households had infants or toddlers in the home, and 36% had children with conditions placing them at high risk for influenza. Almost all parents felt that their children should be immunized against diseases in general (98%), but significant proportions also believed that children received more immunizations than necessary (23%), that immunizations could weaken a child's immune system (36%), or that the influenza vaccine could itself make a child ill (48%). Younger parents, those with infants, and parents of children at risk for complications of influenza were less likely to hold these beliefs while race/ethnicity, marital status, parent's education, or socioeconomic status could not be shown to have any effect. We conclude that many inner-city parents question the effects of childhood immunizations and hold erroneous beliefs about them irrespective of age, race, socioeconomic status, or educational background. Practitioners should address these beliefs in efforts to diminish disparities in immunization levels associated with inner-city multiethnic populations.

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Selected References

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