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Doctors Most Trusted Source of Vaccine Information, Study Finds

THURSDAY, April 7 (HealthDay News) -- For American parents, doctors are the most trusted source of information about the safety of children's vaccines, a new study indicates.

Researchers conducted a national survey of 1,552 parents of children aged 17 and younger, and found that 76 percent said they trusted their child's doctor "a lot" when it came to getting information about vaccine safety.

Other sources trusted "a lot" by parents included other health care providers (26 percent) and government vaccine experts/officials (23 percent).

Sources of information about vaccine safety that were trusted "some" included family and friends (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 parents and "some" by 24 percent of parents, said the University of Michigan study, published online April 1 in the journal Pediatrics.

The researchers also found that mothers were more likely than fathers to have "a lot" or "some" trust in vaccine safety information from parents who believe their child was harmed by a vaccine, celebrities, TV shows, and news/magazine articles.

Also, 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."

"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 U-M Health System news release.

"Even if only a fraction of parents receive, believe, and act on misinformation about vaccine safety provided by these different sources, individual children's health and the population's health may suffer because of vaccine preventable illnesses," he added.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about childhood vaccinations.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: University of Michigan Health System, news release, April 1, 2011

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