Determinants of Parental Acceptance of the H1N1 Vaccine

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Although designated as a high-risk group during the 2009-2010 H1N1 pandemic, only about 40% of U.S. children received the vaccine, a relatively low percentage compared with high-risk groups in seasonal influenza, such as the elderly, whose vaccine rates typically top 70%. To better understand parental decision making and predictors of acceptance of the H1N1 vaccine, we examined data from a representative national sample of parents (n = 684), using the health belief model as a framework. The most important predictors of vaccine acceptance were “cues to action” at multiple levels, from intrapersonal to mass communication, including the influence of friends, family, the media, and modeling by the Obama family; costs and benefits and self-efficacy were also significant predictors of vaccine acceptance. Higher perceived levels of H1N1 risk were not associated with vaccine uptake. Results suggest that traditional measures of perceived risk may not account for the cost–benefit analysis inherent in vaccine decision making, and that messages designed to emphasize disease risk may be ineffective. The authors recommend emphasizing cues to action that support norming and modeling of vaccine acceptance.

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