Online Program

Attitudes Towards Vaccination Among Medical Students: A Two-Site Study

Tuesday, November 3, 2015 : 8:30 a.m. - 8:50 a.m.

Meredith Sooy, University of Vermont College of Medicine, Burlington, VT
Dylan Devlin, University of Vermont College of Medicine, Burlington, VT
Michael Grant, University of Vermont College of Medicine, Burlington, VT
Trishul Kapoor, University of Vermont College of Medicine, Burlington, VT
Marie Lemay, University of Vermont College of Medicine, Burlington, VT
Sarah Waterman Manning, MPA, University of Vermont College of Medicine, Burlington, VT
Christine Finley, RN, MPH, Immunization Program Chief, Vermont Department of Health, Burlington, VT
Thomas V. Delaney, PhD, Pediatrics, UVM College of Medicine, Burlington, VT
Jan K. Carney, MD, MPH, Medicine, Robert Larner MD College of Medicine at the University of Vermont, Burlington, VT
Introduction. School vaccination requirements contribute to marked decline of infectious diseases in the United States. However, as state-level religious and philosophical exemptions become more common, outbreaks of previously-controlled infectious diseases (e.g. measles) are increasing. Physicians are highly influential over parents’ attitudes towards immunizations.

Methods. To assess medical student attitudes and knowledge about vaccination, a survey of validated questions on vaccination experience, attitudes, and efficacy was deployed to students at two US medical schools differing in state-allowed exemptions. Responses were gathered from 175 students and stratified based on state of origin, state of medical school attendance, and year in medical school.

Results. Overall, respondents strongly agreed with statements about the efficacy, necessity, and safety of vaccinations, yielding a mean composite score of 36.41 ± 4.39 out of a possible 40 points. ANOVA testing showed no statistically significant differences between the two medical schools. There was a significant difference between students in the didactic component of medical school (MS1/MS2) compared to those in the clinical component of medical school (MS3/MS4) (p = .003). The most dramatic incongruity between these two groups was found in knowledge about the safety of vaccines, indicating a significant shift towards stronger agreement as students went on in the medical school curriculum (p = <0.001).

Conclusions. Findings suggest students’ advancement in the curriculum (didactic vs clinical) strongly influences their attitudes toward vaccination, while exemptions allowed in each state do not play a significant role in developing those attitudes. Strong health professional curricula support policies to improve public health.  

Learning Areas:

Advocacy for health and health education
Basic medical science applied in public health
Clinical medicine applied in public health
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Describe vaccination requirements and differences in exemptions in state laws across the United States Discuss knowledge and attitudes towards vaccination in 2 states with and without vaccine exemptions Explain changes in knowledge and attitudes towards vaccination in third and fourth-year medical students as compared to first and second-year students Formulate strategies to promote strong vaccination curricula in medical education across the U.S.

Keyword(s): Policy/Policy Development, Immunizations

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a University of Vermont College of Medicine medical student representing a group working in conjunction with the Vermont Department of health. I directly contributed to this study.
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.