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Clin Pediatr (Phila). 1993 Jan;32(1):2-7.

Perceptions of vaccine efficacy, illness, and health among inner-city parents.

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Department of Pediatrics, University of Maryland, Baltimore 21201.


A resurgence of measles in the past decade has focused attention on the limitations of current immunization programs, particularly for inner-city, low-income populations. As part of a larger study of immunization rates, we discussed perceptions of disease severity and vaccine efficacy, as well as the prioritization of the tasks of parenthood, with 40 parents of infants living in inner-city Baltimore to discover their beliefs about immunization. Vaccines were considered only partly successful; susceptibility to chickenpox after vaccination was repeatedly cited as evidence of vaccine failure. Fever was seen as a primary indicator of illness; thus, vaccines were believed to cause, rather than prevent, illness. Immunization was not considered a high-priority parental responsibility. These findings suggest future interventions be aimed at changing parental perceptions of vaccines as ineffective and of fever after immunization as an indicator of illness. Finally, immunizations should be made easily available, even during clinic visits for a child's illness.

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