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Open Access Research article

Participation in and attitude towards the national immunization program in the Netherlands: data from population-based questionnaires

Liesbeth Mollema14*, Nancy Wijers12, Susan JM Hahné1, Fiona RM van der Klis1, Hendriek C Boshuizen3 and Hester E de Melker1

Author Affiliations

1 Centre for Infectious Disease Control Netherlands, RIVM, Bilthoven, The Netherlands

2 Department of Earth and Life Science, VU University Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

3 ICT/Expertise Centre for Methodology and Information Service, RIVM, Bilthoven, The Netherlands

4 National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, Centre for Infectious Disease Control Netherlands, Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit, P.O. Box 1, 3720 BA, Bilthoven, The Netherlands

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BMC Public Health 2012, 12:57  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-57

Published: 20 January 2012

Abstract

Background

Knowledge about the determinants of participation and attitude towards the National Immunisation Program (NIP) may be helpful in tailoring information campaigns for this program. Our aim was to determine which factors were associated with nonparticipation in the NIP and which ones were associated with parents' intention to accept remaining vaccinations. Further, we analyzed possible changes in opinion on vaccination over a 10 year period.

Methods

We used questionnaire data from two independent, population-based, cross-sectional surveys performed in 1995-96 and 2006-07. For the 2006-07 survey, logistic regression modelling was used to evaluate what factors were associated with nonparticipation and with parents' intention to accept remaining vaccinations. We used multivariate multinomial logistic regression modelling to compare the results between the two surveys.

Results

Ninety-five percent of parents reported that they or their child (had) participated in the NIP. Similarly, 95% reported they intended to accept remaining vaccinations. Ethnicity, religion, income, educational level and anthroposophic beliefs were important determinants of nonparticipation in the NIP. Parental concerns that played a role in whether or not they would accept remaining vaccinations included safety of vaccinations, maximum number of injections, whether vaccinations protect the health of one's child and whether vaccinating healthy children is necessary. Although about 90% reported their opinion towards vaccination had not changed, a larger proportion of participants reported to be less inclined to accept vaccination in 2006-07 than in 1995-96.

Conclusion

Most participants had a positive attitude towards vaccination, although some had doubts. Groups with a lower income or educational level or of non-Western descent participated less in the NIP than those with a high income or educational level or indigenous Dutch and have been less well identified previously. Particular attention ought to be given to these groups as they contribute in large measure to the rate of nonparticipation in the NIP, i.e., to a greater extent than well-known vaccine refusers such as specific religious groups and anthroposophics. Our finding that the proportion of the population inclined to accept vaccinations is smaller than it was 10 years ago highlights the need to increase knowledge about attitudes and beliefs regarding the NIP.