Previous studies have shown that messages highlighting vaccines' benefits to society at large have resulted in increased immunization rates among adults, but it's unclear whether this pattern holds for parents deciding whether to vaccinate their children.
In a study in the September 2014 issue of Pediatrics, "Vaccine Message Framing and Parents' Intent to Immunize Their Infants for MMR," (published online Aug. 18), researchers conducted an online survey of 802 parents of infants under age 1 to test whether explaining the societal benefits of vaccination increases parents' intentions to agree to the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine for their child.
Parents who saw information emphasizing the vaccine's benefits directly to the child reported the highest intention to vaccinate. Information emphasizing only societal benefits neither increased nor decreased parents' intention to vaccinate their children.
More work is warranted on how to effectively communicate the societal benefits of vaccination, but the findings of this study indicate that parents principally respond to information about the direct benefits to their children.