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Br J Gen Pract. 2000 Dec;50(461):969-71.

The two-dose measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) immunisation schedule: factors affecting maternal intention to vaccinate.

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Department of Primary Care and General Practice, University of Birmingham Medical School.



In the light of sub-optimal uptake of the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccination, we investigated the factors that influence the intentions of mothers to vaccinate.


A cross-sectional survey of 300 mothers in Birmingham with children approaching a routine MMR vaccination was conducted using a postal questionnaire to measure: intention to vaccinate, psychological variables, knowledge of the vaccine, and socioeconomic status. The vaccination status of the children was obtained from South Birmingham Child Health Surveillance Unit.


The response rate was 59%. Fewer mothers approaching the second MMR vaccination (Group 2) intended to take their children for this vaccination than Group 1 (mothers approaching the first MMR vaccination) (Mann-Whitney U = 2180, P < 0.0001). Group 2 expressed more negative beliefs about the outcome of having the MMR vaccine ('vaccine outcome beliefs') (Mann-Whitney U = 2155, P < 0.0001), were more likely to believe it was 'unsafe' (chi 2 = 9.114, P = 0.004) and that it rarely protected (chi 2 = 6.882, P = 0.014) than Group 1. The commonest side-effect cited was general malaise, but 29.8% cited autism. The most trusted source of information was the general practitioner but the most common source of information on side-effects was television (34.6%). Multiple linear regression revealed that, in Group 1, only 'vaccine outcome beliefs' significantly predicted intention (77.1% of the variance). In Group 2 'vaccine outcome beliefs', attitude to the MMR vaccine, and prior MMR status all predicted intention (93% of the variance).


A major reason for the low uptake of the MMR vaccination is that it is not perceived to be important for children's health, particularly the second dose. Health education from GPs is likely to have a considerable impact.

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