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Pediatricians and Vaccinations: Insights from an Italian Study

Wondering what your pediatrician thinks about vaccines? A new study reveals important findings & offers tips for parents navigating this vital topic.


I’m excited to share fascinating insights from a recent study on pediatricians’ attitudes towards childhood vaccinations in Italy. This comprehensive research, conducted in 2016, unveils crucial information about how doctors view vaccines and their role in protecting our little ones.

Key Findings

The study, published in the esteemed journal Eurosurveillance, surveyed 903 Italian pediatricians to gauge their knowledge, attitudes, and practices regarding childhood vaccinations. Here are some of the most interesting findings:

  1. Overwhelming Support for Vaccinations
    An impressive 95.3% of Italian pediatricians are completely in favor of vaccinations. This strong support demonstrates that the vast majority of children’s doctors recognize the vital importance of vaccines in protecting kids from potentially deadly diseases.
  2. Confidence Gaps
    Despite the strong support, only 66% of the doctors surveyed felt sufficiently knowledgeable about vaccinations and vaccine-preventable diseases to confidently discuss them with parents. This raises an important question: If one-third of pediatricians don’t feel fully equipped to address parents’ concerns, how can we ensure that families are getting the information they need?
  3. Factors Influencing Confidence
    The research revealed some interesting factors that influenced pediatricians’ confidence in discussing vaccinations:
  • Male doctors felt more knowledgeable
  • Doctors aged 55 or older were more confident
  • Those who had participated in recent training courses felt better equipped

Knowledge Gaps
Only 5.4% of the doctors surveyed correctly identified all true and false contraindications for the hexavalent vaccine (which protects against six different diseases). This highlights a critical area where improvement is needed.

    Pediatricians’ Beliefs and Attitudes

    While the overall picture is positive, the study uncovered some nuanced attitudes among pediatricians:

    1. Trust in Information Sources
      About one-third of pediatricians reported not completely trusting vaccine information provided by health authorities and scientific societies. This underscores the importance of transparent and accurate communication between health authorities and healthcare providers.
    2. Perception of Parental Concerns
      93.1% of pediatricians perceived that parents had become increasingly worried about vaccinations in the two years prior to the survey. Vaccine safety concerns were identified as the single most important reason for parents refusing to vaccinate their children.
    3. Approach to Vaccine Discussions
      89.9% of pediatricians reported frequently discussing the importance of vaccination with parents. However, fewer felt it was equally important to address parents’ desires to delay vaccinations, highlighting an area for improvement in doctor-parent communication.

    Vaccination Practices and Promotion

    The study also shed light on pediatricians’ practices related to vaccinations:

    1. Verification of Vaccination Status
      Only 66.5% of pediatricians systematically verify that their patients are up to date with the national immunization schedule. This highlights a potential system barrier to achieving and maintaining high vaccination rates.
    2. Promotion Activities
      72.3% of the doctors reported implementing vaccination promotion activities in the previous year, such as displaying posters and information materials in their waiting rooms or organizing meetings with parents.

    Implications for Parents

    So, what does this research mean for you as a parent? Here are some key takeaways:

    1. Ask Questions
      Don’t hesitate to ask your pediatrician about vaccines. They are there to help you make informed decisions about your child’s health.
    2. Recognize Ongoing Learning
      Be aware that even doctors are continually learning. If your pediatrician doesn’t have an immediate answer, they should be willing to find the information or refer you to reliable sources.
    3. Choose an Engaged Pediatrician
      Look for a pediatrician who takes the time to discuss vaccinations thoroughly.
    4. Stay Up to Date
      Regular check-ups are an excellent opportunity to ensure your child is current with their immunizations.
    5. Be Wary of Misinformation
      With vaccine safety concerns being a major reason for vaccine hesitancy, it’s crucial to seek information from reliable, scientific sources.


    This study provides valuable insights into the knowledge, attitudes, and practices of pediatricians regarding childhood vaccinations in Italy. While the overall picture is positive, with strong support for vaccines among doctors, there’s still work to be done to ensure all pediatricians feel fully equipped to address parents’ concerns and promote vaccination.

    As parents, we play a crucial role in protecting our children’s health through vaccination. By staying informed, asking questions, and working closely with our pediatricians, we can make the best decisions for our little ones’ health and well-being. Remember, vaccines have been one of the most significant public health achievements in history, dramatically reducing the incidence of many serious childhood diseases.

    The next time you’re in your pediatrician’s office discussing vaccinations, feel empowered to ask questions and engage in an open dialogue. Together, we can ensure that our children receive the protection they need against preventable diseases, creating a healthier future for the next generation.



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