The aims of this study were to describe the knowledge, attitude, and current practice of general pediatricians working in primary care regarding vaccination in children with rheumatic diseases (RDs) and to identify barriers and facilitators that could be used to promote uptake.
Cross-sectional survey conducted with an anonymous questionnaire of 34 items distributed to pediatricians via an online platform. Four hundred questionnaires were sent, and 256 were returned and analyzed using STATA 13. Data collection included demographics, questions on knowledge, perceptions, and opinions, as well as advice given to families.
The majority of doctors felt that vaccination in children with RDs is essential. Responders were using a variety of guidelines to reach a clinical decision. Fifty percent were hesitant to adhere to the national vaccination scheme without expert input. Reasons were as follows: not convinced from current literature that the vaccine is safe (32%), afraid to cause disease flare (43%), and unable to deal with parental concerns/refusal (54%). Twelve percent of responders felt that the RD may have been triggered by a vaccine. The majority (82%) of doctors were pro annual influenza vaccination. Seventy percent of doctors were keener to administer booster doses rather than primary ones.
Variation in opinion and clinical practice exists. Overall, although general pediatricians are informed regarding efficacy and adverse effects of immunizations in patients with RDs, there are steps to be made from principle to practice. Vaccinating these children is of vital importance, and primary care pediatricians should be updated regarding existing guidelines referring to this field.