Standards for Pediatric Immunization Practices (CDC, 1993b) might produce a valuable educational resource for families and providers.
  • Information on new vaccines and immunization schedules. Immunization education can help prepare the public and health professionals for impending changes in available vaccines and in the immunization schedule by informing them about the new vaccines and the new versions of existing vaccines that are under development. As new products are licensed, changes are likely to occur in the number of immunizations a child receives and when they are given. Families also may find that more providers disagree about which recommended immunizations are essential. Because the differences in providers' views may make it harder for families to know whether their children have received all the immunizations they need, better immunization education for families will be especially helpful.

  • Information about vaccine successes. The public health community can make a greater effort to inform the public about vaccine successes. The rapid reduction in meningitis produced by use of the Hib vaccine is a good starting point. Information about the effectiveness of a vaccine against a disease that many families have seen and know is a serious threat to a child can help balance apprehensions about the risks that may be associated with vaccines. Because vaccines have been so successful, families may never have observed how serious the diseases they prevent can be.

  • Presentation of risks and benefits. CDC can work with providers, professional organizations, state and local public health departments, and representatives of the public to revise the Vaccine Information Pamphlets so that they present a more balanced picture that weighs the benefits of a vaccine against the risks it may pose. The United Kingdom does not use quantitative estimates of vaccine risks in materials for families, but they may be necessary for materials distributed in the United States.

  • Vaccine Information Pamphlets. CDC needs to revise the Vaccine Information Pamphlets so that they are easier for families to read. Part of making them easier to read may include making them shorter.

Steps to Take in the Longer Term
  • Risk communication skills and resources. Providers, community educators, and health departments need better risk communication skills and resources to respond to concerns about the potential dangers of immunization. In particular, Vaccine Information Pamphlets should reflect the principles of risk communication.

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