Immunisation

Information from friends, family & other parents

It is absolutely right and normal that parents are concerned about the health of their children. It's important that parents find reliable scientific evidence on which to base their decisions, and there is now a mass of this information available.  

The overwhelming majority of parents believe in immunisation for their children. We have however included here the views of a few parents who do not believe immunisation is right for their own child based on their personal beliefs. Their views represent a small proportion of the population.

Family members and friends who had children were often seen as an important source of information for parents when making their decisions about immunisations. 

Parents' mothers or grandmothers could often provide information and share experiences of infectious diseases before immunisation was available. (See 'Parent's views of the diseases'). In some families, the reasons why their own parents had chosen to immunise them, had an influence on parents' decisions. 

Friends and family members who had links to the medical profession were important in providing information to help parents with their decisions. Parents said these sources were particularly valuable because they could trust the information they were receiving and they had more time to discuss their concerns. Many parents felt there was no opportunity to spend time with their GP discussing their concerns. Every parent should have access to a trained health professional to chat about the risks of catching the diseases, and about the benefits and potential risks of immunisation for their own child and the population in general (see 'Information from health professionals').

As part of the process of making a decision, parents often talked to other mothers at nurseries and playgroups about the information they'd found, and the reasons for the decisions they had made. Some reported that conversations about MMR were very heated and they didn't want to get too involved. Although parents acquired information from their friends and from other parents, the right decision for their child was always one they made for themselves.

Last reviewed October 2015.
Last updated June 2011

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