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Keywords:

  • childhood vaccines;
  • immunization;
  • patient;
  • parent education;
  • public health;
  • risks and benefits;
  • vaccine communication

Abstract  United States law requires that immunization providers use Centers for Disease Control Vaccine Information Statements (VISs) and inform parents about vaccine risks and benefits prior to every childhood immunization. A recent national survey found that public health clinics (PHCs) reported high compliance with this law. To further investigate these findings, we conducted an immunization time-motion study in two PHCs in Kansas and Louisiana. Research assistants observed a convenience sample of 246 child immunization visits to record distribution of the VISs and content and time of vaccine communication. Thirty percent of parents read below a ninth grade level, 53% had Medicaid insurance, and 56% were Black. VISs were given with every dose of vaccine administered in 89% of visits. Public health nurses (PHNs) frequently discussed potential vaccine side effects (91%), treatment of side effects (91%), and the vaccine schedule (93%). Contraindications were screened in 71% of visits. Benefits were discussed in 48% of visits and severe risks in 29%. The national Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) was never discussed. The immunization visits lasted for a mean of 20 min. Vaccine communication of side effects, risks, benefits, screening for contraindications, and the next visit lasted for an average of 16 s for all vaccines. PHC compliance with mandated VIS distribution and practical vaccine communication was high. Room for improvement exists in discussion of benefits, serious risks, and the VICP.