Emphasizing societal benefits of vaccines has been linked to increased vaccination intentions in adults. It is unclear if this pattern holds for parents deciding whether to vaccinate their children. The objective was to determine whether emphasizing the benefits of measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccination directly to the vaccine recipient or to society differentially impacts parents' vaccine intentions for their infants.


In a national online survey, parents (N = 802) of infants <12 months old were randomly assigned to receive 1 of 4 MMR vaccine messages: (1) the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Vaccine Information Statement (VIS), (2) VIS and information emphasizing the MMR vaccine's benefits to the child, (3) VIS and information emphasizing societal benefits, or (4) VIS and information emphasizing benefits both to the child and society. Parents reported their likelihood of vaccinating their infants for MMR on a response scale of 0 (extremely unlikely) to 100 (extremely likely).


Compared with the VIS-only group (mean intention = 86.3), parents reported increased vaccine intentions for their infants when receiving additional information emphasizing the MMR vaccine’s benefits either directly to the child (mean intention = 91.6, P = .01) or to both the child and society (mean intention = 90.8, P = .03). Emphasizing the MMR vaccine’s benefits only to society did not increase intentions (mean intention = 86.4, P = .97).


We did not see increases in parents’ MMR vaccine intentions for their infants when societal benefits were emphasized without mention of benefits directly to the child. This finding suggests that providers should emphasize benefits directly to the child. Mentioning societal benefits seems to neither add value to, nor interfere with, information highlighting benefits directly to the child.

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