Children who begin but do not fully complete the recommended series of childhood vaccines by 2 y of age are a much larger group than those who receive no vaccines. While parents who refuse all vaccines typically express concern about vaccine safety, it is critical to determine what influences parents of ‘partially’ immunized children.
This case-control study examined whether parental concern about vaccine safety was responsible for partial immunization, and whether other personal or system-level factors played an important role. A random sample of parents of partially and completely immunized 2 y old children were selected from a Canadian regional immunization registry and completed a postal survey assessing various personal and system-level factors.
Unadjusted odds ratios (OR) and adjusted ORs (aOR) were calculated with logistic regression. While vaccine safety concern was associated with partial immunization (OR 7.338, 95% CI 4.138– 13.012), other variables were more strongly associated and reduced the strength of the relationship between concern and partial immunization in multivariable analysis (aOR 2.829, 95% CI 1.151 – 6.957). Other important factors included perceived disease susceptibility and severity (aOR 4.629, 95% CI 2.017 – 10.625), residential mobility (aOR 3.908, 95% CI 2.075 – 7.358), daycare use (aOR 0.310, 95% CI 0.144 – 0.671), number of needles administered at each visit (aOR 7.734, 95% CI 2.598 – 23.025) and access to a regular physician (aOR 0.219, 95% CI 0.057 – 0.846).
While concern about vaccine safety may be addressed through educational strategies, this study suggests that additional program and policy-level strategies may positively impact immunization uptake.