Intended for healthcare professionals

Education And Debate

Concerns about immunisation

BMJ 2000; 320 doi: (Published 22 January 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;320:240

Concerns about immunisation

Editor-Bedford and Elliman expound well on addressing parental
concerns regarding immunisation. They conclude that health professionals
should treat parental concerns seriously, and that accurate information
should be provided.1

In Bath, we offer an immunisation hotline telephone service, which
professionals, parents, and adolescents can access.2 Administration staff
who have access to computerised records answer calls, and clinical queries
are passed on to a paediatrician. This resource provides information and
is also a point where concerns can be expressed and addressed. This is
especially important with the introduction of a new vaccine, or a change
in the immunisation schedule.

The meningococcal C vaccine campaign began in October 1999 and since then
to mid-February 2000, paediatricians have taken a total of 194 calls. 37%
of queries were directly related to the meningococcal C vaccine. Of all
calls relating to meningococcal C vaccine, 44% were from parents, 0.03%
from adolescents, and 55.97% from professionals (general practitioners,
health visitors and their assistants, practice nurses and managers, and
school nurses). 87% of these calls regarding meningococcal C vaccine were
answered in 5 minutes or less.

Examples of parental questions ranged from general concerns such as
management of children with needle phobia, to specific questions about
vaccine safety, and eligibility of a child to be vaccinated. Parents also
asked about detailed information not available in leaflets, and specific
questions that they felt had not been fully addressed by primary health
care professionals.
We feel that a telephone immunisation service is an effective and time-
efficient means of answering queries from both parents and professionals.
It addresses concerns and leads to an increased uptake in immunisations.

Joanne Brooks
specialist registrar paediatrics

Fiona Finlay
consultant paediatrician in community child health

of Child Health
Bath NHS House, Newbridge Hill. BA1 3QE

1. Bedford H, Elliman D. Concerns about immunisation. BMJ

2. Finlay F, McKechnie L, Pearce A et al. Immunisation telephone
hotline audit. Ambulatory child health 1999;5 :295-302

Competing interests: No competing interests

17 February 2000
Joanne Brooks