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The Biggest Influence on a Mother's Decision to Vaccinate Her Child May Surprise You

When given negative information on vaccines from friends and family members, one study has found that pregnant women were more likely not to have their children vaccinated on time, even after receiving positive information from their doctors.

For the study, published in the journal, Pediatrics,  researchers analyzed data from a cohort of 6205 children from New Zealand’s (NZ) child cohort study—Growing Up in New Zealand (—scheduled to be born between April 25, 2009, and March 25, 2010. The authors state that, “11% of all children born in NZ during the recruitment period were enrolled. The enrolled cohort is generalizable to all births in NZ from 2007 to 2010. For the 168 multiple births in the cohort, [the authors] only included the first-born child in these analyses. For all but 3 sets of twins or triplets, immunization coverage and timeliness were identical between twin or triplet siblings.”

A total of 6822 mothers were interviewed face-to-face via computer assistance at 39 weeks’ gestation (median gestation time) and asked to describe their “sources of information encouraging or discouraging infant immunization,” according to the study. They determined the immunizations that the children received through the National Immunization Register, and “independent associations of immunization information received with immunization timeliness were described by using adjusted odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs).”

Ninety-one percent of the pregnant women who were interviewed described their information sources. About 56% of the women who described their sources indicated that they did not receive any information about vaccines while they were pregnant, while the remaining women reported receiving information as follows: 30% received information encouraging immunization, 4% received information discouraging immunization, and 10% received both encouraging and discouraging information.

Regarding the sources of the information, 14% of the women reported receiving information from family and friends, 35% from healthcare providers, 14% from the media, and 2% from other sources. Ninety percent of the women who identified healthcare providers as their source of information reported that they received only encouraging information. Conversely, of those who identified family and friends as their source, only 39% reported receiving only positive information, and, “53% of those identifying media sources received only encouraging information,” according to the study.

Of note is the fact that some women received discouraging information from healthcare providers. Co-author, Cameron Grant, MD, PhD, head, department of pediatrics, child and youth health, University of Auckland, and pediatrician, Starship Children's Health, Auckland, New Zealand, remarked on this in a press release on the study, stating, “it was concerning that 1 in 6 women who recalled receiving discouraging information, identified healthcare providers as a source of that information.”

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