Three in four GPs, nurses and pharmacists believe childhood vaccinations against preventable diseases should be made mandatory, according to Cogora’s latest annual primary care survey.
Almost 80% of the 1,963 primary care professionals we surveyed said they think this step would increase uptake. However, 18% of GPs and pharmacists and 15% of nurses said they would be against introducing mandatory childhood vaccinations.
The survey, ‘Primary Concerns 2019: The State of Primary Care’, captured the opinions of those in primary care just prior to the coronavirus crisis.
Two-thirds of all respondents said they thought ‘anti-vax’ messaging found on social media is the main cause of poor immunisation rates.
Salaried GPs responding to the survey were most convinced of the link, with more than three-quarters agreeing that social media is to blame. Pharmacists seem to be the most sceptical, with only 59% holding this view.
Just 2% of primary care professionals said they believe a lack of appointments is responsible for the poor uptake.
Rather, 16% said chaotic family lifestyles are to blame and a small minority (0.4%) said a lack of childcare is a possible explanation.
Some respondents suggested other reasons for the poor immunisation rate, for example, poor education and understanding among adults, particularly in groups with low socioeconomic status. Some said too few parents realise the gravity of preventable diseases. Some listed cultural and language barriers as a possible factor.
Others said there is a lack of good-quality, evidence-based material that explains the key issues in understandable terms. Respondents placed some blame on the media and public health organisations for doing a poor job of promoting the need for vaccines.
‘Fear of vaccines’ is the primary reason for people avoiding vaccinations, according to a 2018 Royal Society for Public Health report.
The same study highlighted that social media has been responsible for ‘propagating negative messages around vaccinations, especially for parents’. It found that two in five adults are often or sometimes exposed to negative messages about vaccines on social media sites.