Misconceptions about the need for and safety of recommended childhood and adolescent immunizations are potential causes of delayed immunization, underimmunization, or both. The National Network for Immunization Information has published a resource kit (www.immunizationinfo.org) that includes common misinformed claims, facts, and links to scientific information. Table 1.8 outlines several of these misconceptions.
The concerns about potential associations of MMR vaccine and autism, as well as thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism, have been evaluated in many studies. Evidence from several studies examining trends in vaccine use and changes in the frequency of autism does not support such an association. In addition, the Immunization Safety Review Committee of the IOM examined the hypothesis that MMR vaccine and thimerosal-containing vaccines are associated with autism . The IOM Immunization Safety Review Committee developed and published several conclusions and recommendations, including the following:
- Scientific evidence favors rejection of a causal relationship between thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism.
- Scientific evidence favors rejection of a causal relationship between MMR vaccine and autism.
- Available funding for autism research should be channeled to more promising areas of inquiry.
- Risk-benefit communication requires attention to the needs of both the scientific community and the public.
Each person understands and reacts to information regarding vaccines on the basis of many factors, including past experience, education, perception of risk of disease and vaccine offered, perception of his or her ability to control risk, and personal values. Although parents receive information from multiple sources, they consider health care professionals their most trusted source of health information. Health care professionals should obtain and distribute copies of available AAP and CDC immunization documents, as well as the required VISs, to parents to address their questions and concerns. These materials are written in understandable language and can help parents make informed decisions about immunizing their children. Other sources of objective vaccine information are available ( see the list of selected authoritative Web sites, below) that can help health care professionals respond to questions and misconceptions about immunizations and vaccine-preventable diseases. Various approaches to informing patients and parents about the benefits and risks of disease prevention, including immunizations (see Informing Patients and Parents
), and approaches to parents who refuse immunizations for their child (see Parental Refusal of Immunization
) are available.
The National Network for Immunization Information (NNii) provides up-to-date, science-based information to health care professionals, the media, policy makers, and the public. The NNii also provides additional reliable resources for current immunization information and has published a resource kit, "Communicating With Patients About Immunization." Immunization information can be found on the NNii Web site (www.immunizationinfo.org).
Internet Resources For Immunization Information
Several health professional associations, nonprofit groups, universities, and government organizations provide Internet resources containing immunization information.
Health Professional Associations
American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP)
American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)
www.cispimmunize.org (AAP Childhood Immunization Support Program)
American Medical Association (AMA)
American Nurses Association (ANA)
Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO)
Association of Teachers of Preventive Medicine (ATPM)
National Medical Association (NMA)
Nonprofit Groups And Universities
Albert B. Sabin Vaccine Institute
Allied Vaccine Group (AVG)
Every Child By Two (ECBT)
Health on the Net Foundation (HON)
National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition (HMHB)
Immunization Action Coalition (IAC)
Institute for Vaccine Safety (IVS), Johns Hopkins University
Institute of Medicine (IOM)
National Alliance for Hispanic Health
National Network for Immunization Information (NNii)
Parents of Kids with Infectious Diseases (PKIDS)
Texas Children's Hospital Vaccine Center
The Vaccine Education Center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
The Vaccine Page
University of Pennsylvania
World Health Organization
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
National Vaccine Program Office (NVPO)
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
a . see IOM Immunization Safety Review Committee .
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