Public opinion on childhood immunisations in Iceland

Volume 33, Issue 51 pp. 7141-7422 (16 December 2015)


Public opinion on childhood immunisations in Iceland
Original Research Article
Pages 7211-7216
Ýmir Óskarsson, Þórólfur Guðnason, Guðbjörg A. Jónsdóttir, Karl G. Kristinsson, Haraldur Briem, Ásgeir Haraldsson
In recent years, vaccine preventable diseases such as measles and pertussis have been re-emerging in Western countries, maybe because of decreasing participation in childhood vaccination programs in some countries. There is clear evidence for vaccine efficacy and the risk of adverse effects is low. This needs to be communicated to the general public. The aim of the study was to evaluate the public opinion on childhood vaccinations in Iceland.
Materials and methods
An internet based study was used to evaluate the opinion on childhood immunisations in Iceland. The cohort was divided in three groups: (a) general public (b) employees of the University Hospital Iceland and (c) employees (teachers and staff) of the University of Iceland. The cohorts could be stratified according to age, gender, education, household income, parenthood and residency.
Responses were received from 5584 individuals (53% response rate). When asked about childhood vaccinations in the first and second year of life, approximately 95% of participants were “positive” or “very positive”, approximately 1% were “negative” or “very negative”. When participants were asked whether they would have their child immunized according to the Icelandic childhood vaccination schedule, 96% were “positive” or “very positive”, 1.2% were “negative” or “very negative”. Similarly, 92% trust Icelandic Health authorities to decide on childhood vaccination schedule, 2.3% did not. In total, 9.3% “rather” or “strongly” agreed to the statement “I fear that vaccinations can cause severe adverse effects”, 17.5% were undecided and 66.9% “disagreed” or “strongly disagreed”. Individuals with higher education were more likely to disagree with this statement (OR = 1.45, CI95 = 1.29–1.64, p < 0.001) as did males (OR = 1.22, CI95 = 1.087–1.379, p = 0.001).
This study shows a very positive attitude towards vaccinations raising expectations for an ongoing success in preventing preventable communicable diseases in childhood in Iceland.