4th May 2018, Volume 131 Number 1474

Carol Lee, Isabelle Duck, Chris G Sibley

Scepticism about the safety of childhood vaccinations is an issue of pressing concern.1 Despite the abundance of comprehensive and reliable scientific evidence on the safety and effectiveness of standard vaccinations,2–4…

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Summary

Using data from the 2013/14 New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study, the present study investigated the level of confidence in standard childhood vaccinations among New Zealand health professionals. Most health professionals showed higher levels of vaccine confidence, with 96.7% of those describing their occupation as GP or simply ‘doctor’ (GPs/doctor) and 90.7% of pharmacists expressing strong vaccine confidence. However, there were important disparities between some other classes of health professionals, with only 65.1% of midwives and 13.6% of practitioners of alternative medicine expressing high vaccine confidence. The consensus of belief in the vaccine safety among GPs/doctors is an encouraging finding, but the low level of confidence among midwives is a matter of concern that may have negative influence on parental vaccination attitudes.

Abstract

Aim

To investigate the level of confidence in the safety of standard childhood vaccinations among health professionals in New Zealand.

Method

Data from the 2013/14 New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study (NZAVS) was used to investigate the level of agreement that “it is safe to vaccinate children following the standard New Zealand immunisation schedule” among different classes of health professionals (N=1,032).

Results

Most health professionals showed higher levels of vaccine confidence, with 96.7% of those describing their occupation as GP or simply ‘doctor’ (GPs/doctor) and 90.7% of pharmacists expressing strong vaccine confidence. However, there were important disparities between some other classes of health professionals, with only 65.1% of midwives and 13.6% of practitioners of alternative medicine expressing high vaccine confidence.

Conclusion

As health professionals are a highly trusted source of vaccine information, communicating the consensus of belief among GPs/doctors that vaccines are safe may help provide reassurance for parents who ask about vaccine safety. However, the lower level of vaccine confidence among midwives is a matter of concern that may have negative influence on parental perceptions of vaccinations.

Author Information

Carol Lee, University of Auckland, PhD student, School of Psychology, Auckland;
Isabelle Duck, Westgate Medical Centre, Fellow of the Royal New Zealand College of Urgent Care, Fellow of the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners, Auckland;
Chris G Sibley, University of Auckland, Professor, School of Psychology, Auckland.

Acknowledgements

This manuscript is based on part of Carol Lee’s PhD thesis. Carol was supported by a University of Auckland Doctoral Scholarship during the preparation of this manuscript. Collection of the NZAVS data reported in this manuscript was supported by a grant from the Templeton Religion Trust (TRT0196).

Correspondence

Carol Lee, School of Psychology, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland.

Correspondence Email

clee879@aucklanduni.ac.nz

Competing Interests

Nil.

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