A young woman receives a HPV vaccine.
The HPV vaccine prevents many cancers caused by human papillomavirus if given early enough. Credit: Flickr / Art Writ

A Texas nonprofit is seeking feedback from families across the state as part of an effort to improve communication and education about vaccinations.

The Immunization Partnership, an advocacy organization working to eradicate vaccine-preventable diseases through public policy initiatives, created a survey to gauge how parents and caregivers interpret the importance, safety, and effectiveness of vaccines for diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTaP), chickenpox, hepatitis A and B, and the human papillomavirus (HPV). The results will be used to guide the organization’s policy and educational initiatives.

This is the first year the organization is seeking input through expansive public outreach to determine how best to educate and advocate for the local community, said Cherise Rohr-Allegrini, San Antonio program director with the Immunization Partnership. Previously the partnership asked healthcare providers to administer the statewide survey every other year, she said.

“We need to address the questions people have. If the greatest concern is that they are worried that vaccines [aren’t effective], or that they are [dangerous], that’s why they aren’t getting them and we need to [address their concerns],” Rohr-Allegrini said.

The survey asks about children in the household and their vaccination status, the type of school they attend, and broader questions regarding participants’ beliefs about the value of vaccines, the quality of information available about them, and vaccination guidelines set by educational institutions and healthcare organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The partnership uses the data collected to determine priorities ahead of the Texas state government’s legislative sessions. It used its 2016 data to advocate for House Bill 2249, which would have required the government to release school immunization rates. The so-called “parents-right-to-know” bill was prompted by a rise in the number of Texas students who obtained vaccine exemptions for reasons of conscience. Though slated for debate on the House floor, the bill ultimately was not passed.

“This was driven by parents’ desire to understand the vaccination rate in an individual school,” Rohr-Allegrini said, noting that the information was previously only available at the district level. “We want to promote the concerns that are relevant to the community.”

The survey can be accessed here, and will be made available through the end of July.

Roseanna Garza

Roseanna Garza

Roseanna Garza reports on health and bioscience for the San Antonio Report.