(Dempsey et al., 2011; Freed et al., 2010; Gust et al., 2005; Kennedy et al., 2011a; Niederhauser et al., 2001; Salmon et al., 2004).

In 2000, Gellin et al. reported that the two most common concerns that parents expressed about childhood immunizations were that too many vaccines were being administered to infants and children and that childhood vaccines may weaken the immune system (Gellin et al., 2000). The 2002 IOM report Immunization Safety Review: Multiple Immunizations and Immune Dysfunction determined that no biological or epidemiological evidence for such concerns was available and that infants receive more antigenic exposures from the natural world, including exposures to infections for which no vaccine is provided. The report noted, however, that “the committee concludes that concern about multiple immunizations has been, and could continue to be, of societal significance in terms of parental worries, potential health burdens, and further challenges for immunization policy-making” (IOM, 2002, p. 12)

A recent study of the concerns stated by parents with young children (<7 years) in the 2010 HealthStyles survey revealed a number of vaccine-related attitudes and concerns (Kennedy et al., 2011b). The concerns that 376 respondents reported the most frequently are listed in Table 4-1.

Similar results were found in the 2002 HealthStyles and Consumer-Styles surveys of a nationally representative sample of 697 parents, although the rank order of their concerns was slightly different (Gust et al., 2005). Despite documented parental concerns about vaccines, most parents still have their children receive the recommended immunizations. In fact, the 2010 National Immunization Survey (NIS) reported that less than 1 percent of toddlers had received no vaccines at all (CDC, 2012).

A 2011 article focused on the relationship between parents’ attitudes toward childhood immunizations and the decision to delay or decline immunizations (Smith et al., 2011). Using data from the 2009 NIS, the researchers reviewed 11,206 parents’ reports of immunization delays and refusals. Approximately 60 percent of parents with children aged 24 to 35 months neither delayed nor refused immunizations; 26 percent only delayed

TABLE 4-1 Vaccine-Related Concerns, 2010

Vaccine-Related Concern Percentage of Responses
It is painful for children to receive so many shots during one doctor’s visit. 38
My child is getting too many vaccines in one doctor’s visit. 36
Children get too many vaccines during the first 2 years of life. 34

SOURCE: Kennedy et al., 2011b.

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