Background: In June 2009, the World Health Organization declared that the world was at the start of an influenza pandemic – what was to be later termed pandemic (H1N1) 2009 influenza. As clinical trials of the 2009 H1N1 vaccines began, little was known about pediatricians’ concerns about these vaccines or what approaches they were taking to educate parents.
Objectives: To assess pediatricians’ opinions about the best ways to educate parents about 2009 H1N1 vaccines.
Methods: In August 2009, interviews were held with 28 pediatricians in Houston, Chicago, and San Francisco. We audio-recorded interviews with pediatricians and took notes while observing the interviews. We then met to discuss the pediatricians’ comments and to identify key themes that emerged from the interviews. We clustered themes into core categories and analyzed the pediatricians’ comments again until we reached consensus on the categories of themes.
Results: Pediatricians said they needed materials written in plain language for parents with less education as well as more detailed information for well-educated parents who wanted to know more about the vaccine. They indicated that although translating influenza educational materials into Spanish is important, some new immigrants have low literacy. Therefore, Spanish-language radio would be an important channel of communication for reaching these parents. They felt that public service announcements and television appearances by a CDC spokesperson would be well-received by parents.
Conclusions: To reach parents with important messages about the 2009 H1N1 vaccine, pediatricians recommended using a variety of educational materials, written at different reading levels and communicated through diverse media and channels. This formative research helped guide CDC’s messages used for the 2009 H1N1 campaign.
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