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Interview 14

Brief Outline: For DTaP/IPV/Hib' Found it most useful to talk to friends who had already made decisions about their children's immunisations. Took on board recommendations of health professionals.
Background: At time of interview' married, one daughter, aged 8 months. Parent's occupation' Mother- Academic, Father- Professor. Ethnic background' White-European (French).

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She will read the original research articles rather than just the media reporting of it.

She will read the original research articles rather than just the media reporting of it.

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Well certainly the fact that, that it has been talked about in the media is what will make me want to acquire information. But I will go to the original articles rather than just using the information from the media, yes.  

And why is that?

Well because the, the media necessarily can, can give only part of the information. There's, there are space constraints, there are information constraints that statistics are complicated to present and, and the media may play a role in alerting to the fact that there are studies which show that there is a statistical risk, I want to go and see what is the extent of this statistical risk. And I want to know exactly what studies have been, have been done and, and on what populations and what are their findings.
 
 

Thought the information her GP gave her about the new 5 in 1 vaccine was biased.

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Thought the information her GP gave her about the new 5 in 1 vaccine was biased.

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The thing which I would say, which I probably shouldn't say is, one shouldn't trust entirely the GP or the Health Visitor because the, unfortunately they are, they have to follow guidelines which don't even necessarily agree with what they believe in but I think it's unfortunate that they are, will follow the guidelines. I was told, for example, that I was putting my daughter at great risk if I didn't give her the first set of immunisations because, given that the, we were just at the time when they are, this vaccine was being phased out and replaced by the other one, within the next 10 days, I asked, well could we wait and have the new one. Because my view, well our view was that if it, if this vaccine was being removed it, there had to be reasons for that. 

So I said, 'Well, I'd rather wait for the next 10 days.' And the, and I was told that it was not possible and I was told that the reason why it was not possible was because I was putting my daughter at great risk of catching diphtheria within the next 10 days if she didn't have the vaccine. Which I think is, is not right. Because of course that's not the reason why the GP wanted her to have the vaccine. The reason was that, it was changing in 10 days and until then he had to vaccinate a number of people and he just wanted to get it done. And so I, this made me feel a little bit ill at ease and so it was not right. To wave the risk of disease and to try to convince me that I was being irresponsible and putting her at risk.

 

Be honest about the reasons behind some of the advice given.

Be honest about the reasons behind some of the advice given.

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I was told, for example, that I was putting my daughter at great risk if I didn't give her the first set of immunisations because, given that the, we were just at the time when they are, this vaccine was being phased out and replaced by the other one, within the next 10 days, I asked, well could we wait and have the new one. Because my view, well our view was that if it, if this vaccine was being removed it, there had to be reasons for that. 

So I said, 'Well, I'd rather wait for the next 10 days.' And the, and I was told that it was not possible and I was told that the reason why it was not possible was because I was putting my daughter at great risk of catching diphtheria within the next 10 days if she didn't have the vaccine. Which I think is, is not right. Because of course that's not the reason why the GP wanted her to have the vaccine. The reason was that, it was changing in 10 days and until then he had to vaccinate a number of people and he just wanted to get it done. And so I, this made me feel a little bit ill at ease and so it was not right, to wave the, the risk of disease and to try to convince me that I was being irresponsible and putting her at risk.

They wouldn't like, they wouldn't like to be told half of the, half of the truth when they have to decide what they want to do with their children. So I think it's just the same for everybody.

 

She believed in being socially responsible but had she thought there was any risk to her child,...

She believed in being socially responsible but had she thought there was any risk to her child,...

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I know that these diseases, these childhood diseases I know are very uncomfortable, serious but not very dangerous, but that they can have some complications which are rare but which then are very problematic. So, there's, this on the one hand, so it's, if you catch these diseases, guaranteed discomfort and a small risk of having something very serious. And then on the other hand there's the vaccinations, for which mostly there is very little risk attached. So it seems to me that apart from the, for the MMR, it seems to me that it's completely clear-cut. Is, it's an advance that we can have these vaccinations and it's not only for the child but it's also for the population. It's, civic duty to have a child vaccinated because the risks of complications also, I understand, are if, conditional on catching these diseases, the risk of complication is probably higher if a child is malnourished or living in less good conditions. So all these factors combine together. So I think that for a number of children having, it, it's not so much to prevent themselves from having the complications, it's because in the society at large it's necessary that everybody has it.  

It's a public duty, a civic duty, but on the other hand if you're convinced that, or if you know somebody who's had very, very adverse reaction, or if you're convinced that you're going to have a very adverse reaction, then it makes perfect sense not to have your child immunised. Statistics are a very good thing but you know, it's your own child and you don't want, if, your gut feeling is that it entails a very important risk, then, well, if, if it had been my gut feeling I certainly wouldn't have done it. But my gut feeling was that on the basis of the information that I had it, it didn't entail a very important risk.
 
 

Did not see any reason not to immunise her baby with the first set of immunisations.

Did not see any reason not to immunise her baby with the first set of immunisations.

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So I initially thought immunisation was compulsory. It then became clear that it was a decision we had to make. I discussed it with a number of friends. All of my friends have had their children immunised, except for a couple with whom I discussed. But it didn't seem to me that there was any compelling reasons not to immunise. And it was made clear that the medical profession believes that it is very important, and that the risks attached to these first batch of vaccination are not so important that as to make one want to hesitate. Therefore we just went ahead and had the first batch of vaccines when she was two months.

 

Advice from the consultant helped her to decide to give her daughter further immunisations after...

Advice from the consultant helped her to decide to give her daughter further immunisations after...

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We did hesitate for the second batch of vaccinations. But because of the reaction that she had, she was seen by specialist, who reassured us and said that the reaction she's had was a strong, but not an abnormal reaction to the vaccines, and that he didn't foresee that there would be any problem, with having her second and third batch of vaccinations. Therefore we decided to continue. And we had the second and the third batch and they were absolutely no problem.

Well I was afraid that the episode, after the first vaccination, was going to have permanent consequences. If it was just a, a fever and just being very tired because of the shock to the system, I don't have a problem with that. But I was very concerned that there would be permanent consequences. Either because of having had a very high fever or because what I had witnessed was actually a reaction, which was demonstrating that something else was going on. So I was extremely concerned and, and I was not going to have the, we were not going to have her, have the second and third round of immunisations, unless we were reassured by a specialist, that it was perfectly fine, which we were and so we just went ahead.

And can you remember what the specialist said?

Yes. He said that, because this was just at the time, when the old vaccines were being phased out and replaced with the new vaccines. And he told us that what had happened was that, this type of reaction, did occur, not with very high frequency, but did occur with the old vaccine. There was a reaction to the pertussis vaccine, I believe. And this is why that, that vaccine was being phased out. And that therefore, we shouldn't have any concern with, with the other vaccines because it was the new one, which didn't carry that risk.
 
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