, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 3-10

‘Just that Little Bit of Doubt’: Scottish Parents', Teenage Girls' and Health Professionals' Views of the MMR, H1N1 and HPV Vaccines

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Abstract

Background

Parental decision making about childhood vaccinations is complex and the vaccination schedule ever-changing. Vaccination may be controversial even in countries with historically high vaccination rates such as Scotland. Health behaviour models have aided understanding of individual vaccine intentions for specific vaccines. These are limited in explaining actual behaviours and are divorced from the impact of socio-cultural contexts on vaccination decision making.

Purpose

To explore vaccination views in Scotland amongst parents, teenage girls and health professionals across three controversial vaccines: the Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR), the Human Papilloma virus (HPV) and the Influenza A (H1N1) vaccine.

Method

We used qualitative interviews and focus group discussions in a purposive sample of health professionals (n = 51), parents (n = 15) and teenage girls aged 12–15 years (n = 8) about their views of these vaccines. Discussions were analysed using thematic analysis.

Results

Two main themes are highlighted: ‘vaccine risks revisited’ in which we explored how the MMR legacy resurfaced and how worries about vaccine safety permeated the data. ‘Vaccine responsibilities’ indicated tensions regarding roles and responsibilities for vaccines. An overarching notion of ‘just that little bit of doubt’ referred to lingering doubts and uncertainties interwoven across the vaccines.

Conclusions

Public health authorities should remain alert towards pervasive vaccine concerns. It is important for authorities to clarify vaccine roles and responsibilities in the face of new and existing vaccines and to acknowledge public concerns regarding vaccine safety.