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Keeping Appointments Key to Keeping Vaccines on Track

by The Kid's Doctor Staff

With all the recent news about the H1N1 virus (Swine Flu) and the fact that last week was National Infant Immunization week, it’s important for parents to keep their children up-to-date on their vaccinations. However a new study out shows that scheduling issues, communication problems and a lack of belief in the importance of vaccinations have been identified as some of the biggest hurdles in getting parents to bring their children in for immunization appointments.

According to investigators in New York City, missed appointments were linked to children being 2.5 times more likely to be behind in the immunization.

“The good news is that the immunization barriers that we have identified are all modifiable factors,” lead investigator Dr. Melissa Stockwell, an assistant professor of clinical pediatrics and population family health with Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons and Mailman School of Public Health. “Interventions need to be designed and implemented to ensure that all parents have a healthcare provider with whom they communicate well, that they have reasonable flexibility with scheduling doctors’ appointments for their children and that there is individual and community wide education to emphasize the importance of immunization.”

The study was bases on interviews with 705 New York City parents with children under the age of three. It found the following:

  • Parental rescheduling of immunization appointments led to the parent being four times as likely not to keep the new date
  • Parents who questioned the importance of vaccines were more than three times as likely not to immunize their child
  • If parents had difficulty communicating with the healthcare provider, they were almost three times as likely to miss their child’s scheduled immunization appointments
  • Children who are not the first-born in the family are nearly three times more likely to miss immunization appointments
  • Mothers under age 31 were twice as likely to not make immunization appointments

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