Pandemic influenza A (H1N1) vaccination in The Netherlands: Parental reasoning underlying child vaccination choices
Introduction: During the 2009 influenza A (H1N1) pandemic, parents in the Netherlands were recommended to vaccinate healthy children between six months and five years of age. The aim of this study was to examine reasons for (non-)acceptance, risk perception, feelings of doubt and regret, influence of the social network, and information-seeking behavior of parents who accepted or declined H1N1 vaccination. Methods: Data on accepters were collected via exit interviews following the second-dose vaccination round in December 2009 (n= 1227). Data on decliners were gathered in June and July 2010 with questionnaires (n= 1900); 25 parents participated in in-depth interviews. Results: The most reported reasons for parental acceptance of H1N1 vaccination were " I don't want my child to become sick" (43%), " Mexican flu can be severe" (10%), " the government advises it, so I do it" (6%), and " if I don't do it, I will regret it" (6%). The most reported reasons declining the vaccination were " fear of side effects/harmful consequences" (51%), " just having a bad feeling about it" (46%), and " the vaccine was not thoroughly tested" (39%). More decliners than accepters experienced feelings of doubt about the vaccination decision (decliners 63% versus accepters 51%, p< 0.001), and decliners reported more often information-seeking behavior (decliners 76% versus accepters 56%, p< 0.001). Decliners more frequently solicited advice from their social network than accepters (decliners 72% versus accepters 61%, p< 0.001). Furthermore, accepters more often reported social influence on their vaccination decision (accepters 58% versus decliners 38%, p< 0.001) and experienced more negative feelings after their vaccination decision (accepters 8% versus decliners 2%, p< 0.001). Immigrant accepters and decliners more often had feelings of doubt and regret about the vaccination decision, solicited advice more often from their social network, and were more often influenced by this advice compared to native Dutch parents. Conclusion: To optimize response rates in future vaccination campaigns, health authorities should provide more information on vaccine benefits and possible risks, tailoring this information to specific risk groups. Health authorities should also invest in the development and implementation of effective vaccine risk/benefit communication tools.
- Influenza A (H1N1) vaccination
- Information-seeking behavior
- Feelings of doubt
- Parental reasoning
- Social influence
- Vaccination choices