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Vaccine Advice: Parents Trust Doctors Most

By Jennifer Goldsmith Cerra

American parents still trust doctors the most when it comes to the safety of children’s vaccines, even after years of high-profile and often conflicting news stories.  A new study by University of Michigan researchers, published online April 1 in the journal Pediatrics, found 76 percent a trusted their child’s doctor “a lot” when it came to getting information about vaccine safety.

The national survey of 1,552 parents of children aged 17 and younger discovered other sources trusted “a lot” by parents included other health care providers (26 percent) and government vaccine experts/officials (23 percent).  Following behind were family and friends as sources trusted “some” (67 percent) and parents who believe their child was harmed by a vaccine (65 percent).

Celebrities were trusted “a lot” by only 2 percent of respondents and “some” by 24 percent of parents.  In the past decade, stars like Jenny McCarthy, Jim Carrey, Amanda Peet, and Salma Hayek have taken opposite sides in what has become a hotly contested debate.  Seems parents – and in particular, mothers – are also more inclined to listen to vaccine safety information from parents who believe their child was harmed by a vaccine, than celebrities, TV shows, and news/magazine articles.

Finally, white and Hispanic parents were more likely than black parents to trust family and friends “a lot” or “some,” and Hispanic parents were more likely than black or white parents to trust celebrities “a lot” or “some.”

Experts are clear that the disparity in who believes what in the vaccine safety debate makes public health programs more challenging.

“Those who design public health efforts to provide evidence-based information must recognize that different strategies may be required to reach all groups of parents,” Dr. Gary L. Freed, chief of general pediatrics and director of the Child Health Evaluation and Research Unit, said in a University of Michigan Health System news release.

The information on MommyMDGuides.com is not intended to replace the diagnosis, treatment, and services of a physician. Always consult your physician or child care expert if you have any questions concerning your family's health. For severe or life-threatening conditions, seek immediate medical attention.