Children and young people's understanding of vaccines in the United Kingdom
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Royal Society for Public Health, United Kingdom
Publication date: 2023-04-27
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A1982
Background and Objective: Previous research about children and young people’s (CYP) perceptions of vaccines either involve only parents or a small sample of children. Given the lack of data on their understanding of vaccines, the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) surveyed CYP aged 12-15 years living in the United Kingdom (UK) about their awareness of what vaccinations are and how they work, views on who the decision maker should be and understanding of different vaccines including HPV and Covid-19. Methods: An online survey was distributed to CYP (N=1584, sample representative of the UK population) in October 2022. Data was analysed using standard descriptive statistics and independent samples t-test. Results: Most CYP think vaccines are important for their health, trust them and know what they do, however less than 60% know there is a vaccine for HPV and Meningitis and 1 in 5 do not know that there is a vaccine for Polio. Around half the CYP did not know which vaccines are available for them and many of those who have already been offered an HPV vaccine do not know this vaccine is available. Awareness and trust vary according to CYP ethnicity, with the main concerns being side effects, safety and pain. Conclusions: Despite trusting and knowing what vaccines are, some CYP do not know which diseases have available vaccines or which they are entitled to have in the UK. Their lack of awareness could impact uptake now and in the future, therefore more must be done to raise awareness and understanding in this group, especially with the re-emergence of diseases such as measles and polio. More research is also needed to understand why CYP from Black, Asian and mixed background have lower levels of awareness and trust of vaccines than their white peers.