Teenagers' understandings of, and attitudes towards, vaccines and vaccine-preventable diseases

The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine recently introduced for girls into the routine school-based adolescent immunisation programme is probably only one of a number of vaccines that will be included in the programme in the near future. Discussion about the introduction of a routine hepatitis B vaccine in the UK has been taking place for many years, with the adolescent programme as one option for timing. Similarly, the introduction of a varicella vaccine has been under consideration for some time. In the coming years it is also likely that more boosters will be added into the adolescent immunisation programme to ensure that individuals have maximum protection prior to leaving school. Such boosters may include meningitis C, and in light of many young people having missed out on their childhood Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine (as a result of the MMR controversy) it has been suggested that an MMR booster could also be added to the adolescent immunisation programme. Whilst much research had been conducted with parents of young children, less is known about the perceptions and concerns of teenagers in regards to immunisation. This exploratory study examined teenagers’ understandings, beliefs and concerns about vaccine preventable diseases, immunisation and the acceptability of extending the current school-based adolescent immunisation programme. This paper is in press.

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  • Helen Bedford