A lack of disease and heightened media attention to real and alleged side effects of vaccines lead some people to believe that the risks of childhood immunizations outweigh the benefits. By 1998, more than 10 states had introduced measures to expand exemptions to state vaccination mandates.
Beginning in 1999, the National Network for Immunization Information (NNii), an affiliate of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, developed an education campaign providing scientifically sound information about immunization to help parents, health care professionals and policy-makers make informed decisions about childhood immunizations and to help the media represent the topic accurately.
Porter Novelli, a Washington-based public relations and social marketing firm, under a subcontract, conducted research to help develop the campaign and assisted NNii staff as needed.
At the end of the grant period in August 2003:
- The number of families refusing vaccines remained small, and state laws on immunization remained unchanged.
- NNii staff had developed and distributed 28,000 copies of Communicating with Patients about Immunization, a resource kit written by experts to help health care professionals address parents' and patients' questions about immunizations during an office visit.
- NNii's website, which provides access to comprehensive, scientifically sound information about immunization, received an average of more than 13,000 visits per month.