How peace of mind can influence parents’ attitude to vaccines
According to new research from the University of Bristol, many people experience peace of mind from getting their children vaccinated. However, this benefit is currently being ignored when health bodies weigh up vaccine benefits to make decisions about whether or not to introduce vaccines or expand their coverage. The qualitative study, published in Vaccine, found that peace of mind should be considered in the health economic framework used by decision-makers, but that more research is required to further define and quantify peace of mind.
Many different factors are considered by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), who advise UK government on vaccines, but peace of mind is not currently one of them. Researchers found that whether a person experienced peace of mind from vaccination depended on their knowledge of the benefits of having a jab. The reassurance they experienced was from knowing that when an individual was vaccinated it would offer some level of protection against a disease.
While peace of mind from vaccinating their children was important to some participants of the study, it wasn’t for others. Parents who benefitted tended to think that vaccination was intrinsically beneficial, but people who simply considered vaccination as a routine health intervention said that they did not receive peace of mind benefits. Even though these peace of mind benefits are only experienced by some parents, the added value to their health could still influence decisions on whether or not a government should fund a vaccine. The research suggests decision-makers need to consider these benefits.
The researchers also found that peace of mind varies over time. Reassurance from the knowledge of benefits, or from healthcare providers, could be diminished by short-term unease about believing a child could be in pain or distress when receiving a jab. Certain vaccines brought less peace of mind if an individual either hadn’t experienced the disease or if they had experienced a mild form of the disease as a child but without complications.
Discussion from one focus group reported the longer a vaccine had been introduced, the safer it felt to them. Participants were more cautious about vaccinations that they considered to be ‘newer’ or vaccinations that they had little personal experience with. There were exceptions to this for severe illnesses such as meningitis. The MenB vaccine, although considered relatively ‘new’ by some participants, provided increased reassurance because of the perceived severity of the disease.
(Content Courtesy: https://www.bristol.ac.uk/news/2020/january/vaccine-study.html)