The United States enjoys one of the lowest rates of vaccine-preventable disease in the world. However, our country may be at risk of a resurgence in these diseases if the results of our recent study, published in the November, 2000 issue of Pediatrics, continue to hold true.
We surveyed thousands of parents nationwide and found that while most parents (87%) think immunization is an 'extremely important' step they can take to protect their child's health, a substantial minority also hold important misconceptions about vaccines. For example, nearly one-quarter of parents felt that their child's immune system could become weakened as a result of too many immunizations (in reality, vaccines strengthen the immune system). Meanwhile, 23% of parents felt that children get more immunizations than are good for them (in truth, a child's immune system can respond to hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of organisms, so the response developed by vaccines use only a small part of their immune system).
We are not alone in our findings. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that safety-related calls to the CDC's national immunization hotline have increased considerably since 1997. Moreover, scientifically unsubstantiated vaccine safety concerns have increasingly been the focus of media attention, state legislative debates and congressional hearings. Since inaccurate information is often the basis for these concerns, it is clear that everyone needs timely, objective, clear and accurate information on immunizations.
We have developed two resources to help fulfill this need. This web site is one of them, and we hope it has everything you need to answer your questions about vaccines. Since our research showed that parents view their healthcare provider as their most trusted source of information, we've also developed a resource kit for health care providers to help them address concerns of their patients and provide them with additional resources to learn more about immunizations. The kit is also online in the provider section of this site.
We're anxious to hear what you think about our work, so please send us your feedback.