Doctors and nurses key to preventing vaccine refusal outbreaks

(Medical Xpress) -- Well-informed doctors and nurses are the key to preventing parents refusing childhood immunisations because of vaccine scare campaigns, a University of Sydney expert writes in the latest edition of the international journal Nature.

Dr. Julie Leask, senior research fellow and senior lecturer at the University of Sydney, has written the Comment piece in Nature's 26 May special vaccines issue, which explores the unwarranted safety fears that threaten the promise of new vaccines.

" are key in tipping a scare towards widespread rejection," says Dr. Leask, who notes that health professionals can be swayed by community concerns about new vaccines, even when those concerns are not scientifically founded.

"Parents repeatedly rate [health professionals] as their most trusted source of advice. So if doctors and nurses lose confidence it can have a profound effect," says Dr. Leask, who has spent 14 years researching the field of immunisation take-up and currently leads the social sciences unit at the National Centre for Immunization Research and Surveillance at the Children's Hospital at Westmead.

"More time should be spent on immunisation in medical and nursing curricula; continuing education should be provided; and timely updates issued when scares arise," she says.

And rather than focusing on the parents resolute in their opposition to vaccination, communication strategies should focus on the hesitant parents, she argues. "We can and must work harder to head off such scares by better engaging fence-sitting parents and wavering health professionals.

"More pragmatically, systems should be put in place to prompt doctors or when a vaccine is due or overdue, to evaluate their performance as vaccination providers, and to enable suitably qualified health professionals to give a without a doctor's involvement each time."

Dr. Leask adds that while communication strategies are a key to promoting vaccination, structural barriers, such as transport to a vaccination centre or finances, should also be addressed.

"Countries with high child-immunisation rates have well-oiled systems: free and accessible vaccines, national record keeping and reminders. Financial incentives for parents and providers and sanctions such as exclusion of unvaccinated children from childcare during outbreaks or compulsory immunization also have an effect."

More information: www.nature.com/nature/journal/… 48/full/473443a.html

Provided by University of Sydney

5 /5 (1 vote)

Related Stories

Do vaccines cause autism, asthma and diabetes?

Jun 11, 2008

Almost 70% of parents who refuse to vaccinate their children do so because they believe vaccines may cause harm. Indeed vaccines have been blamed for causing asthma, autism, diabetes, and many other conditions--most of which ...

Young children respond well to recommended swine flu vaccine

May 28, 2010

The first head to head study of the two H1N1 vaccines used in the UK during the recent pandemic finds that the adjuvanted split virus vaccine induced higher immune response rates in young children, but was associated with ...

Recommended for you

El Nino stunts children's growth in Peru

1 hour ago

Extreme weather events, such as El Niño, can have long-lasting effects on health, according to research published in the open access journal Climate Change Responses. The study, in coastal Peru, shows that children born d ...

How can we help manage eating disorders?

8 hours ago

These guidelines are for the clinical management of eating disorders They are intended to provide current evidence based guidance on the assessment and treatment of people with eating disorders by psychiatrists and other ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.