257100 Reaching Vaccine-Hesitant Parents Offline: Community Forum Model

Tuesday, October 30, 2012 : 12:50 PM - 1:10 PM

Mark Sawyer, MD, FAAP , School of Medicine, University of California, San Diego, San Diego, CA
Like many communities across the US, San Diego has pockets of unvaccinated and under-vaccinated children. After San Diego's 2008 measles outbreak made national news, the local immunization coalition decided that new strategies were needed to inform vaccine-hesitant parents about the abundant misinformation about vaccines and vaccine safety.

Bringing together a dynamic team of a pediatric infectious disease specialist and an autism researcher, the coalition worked with strategic community partners to conduct open community forums for parents and expectant parents who had questions about vaccines. Community groups, hospitals, and other partners provided outreach and in-kind support. To date, over 200 community members have attended forums held in different locations. Two events included translator services for Spanish and Arabic speakers.

Organizers used data to target communities with high "personal belief exemptions" to childhood vaccines. About 1 in 5 parents attending reported that they had already skipped or delayed vaccines. Others were considering these options.

Key information included the latest research findings on the causes of autism, vaccine safety systems, and answers to common vaccine concerns. Parents who lost a child or experienced complications from a vaccine-preventable disease were invited to share their stories. A Q&A encouraged parents to raise additional concerns. About 3 in 4 attendees reported that they had a change of opinion about vaccines after the forum. Most would recommend a similar event to a friend.

To help communities replicate the model, a "how-to" guide with templates on planning, implementing, and evaluating this program will also be shared.

Learning Areas:
Diversity and culture
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Protection of the public in relation to communicable diseases including prevention or control

Learning Objectives:
List the key resources (expertise, tools, logistics, etc) needed to replicate a similar community-based program Describe the key advantages of inviting parents to bring questions to experts, rather than relying on Google searches or nontrustworthy information Explain how strategic partnerships can enhance attendance, particularly when targeting specific ethnic or other populations.

Keywords: Immunizations, Community-Based Health Promotion

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a pediatric infectious disease specialist with over 20 years experience. I am a member of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP)and have been active with the California Immunization Coalition. Together with a colleague in Autism Research, I have conducted a number of local community forums in San Diego to allow vaccine-hesitant parents to bring questions in a non-threatening interactive setting.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.