In Canada, varicella vaccine is recommended but its uptake has been low. In contrast to most other recommended paediatric vaccines, this one is not currently provided free of charge in all provinces and territories in Canada.
To evaluate the rate of health care provider offer of varicella vaccine to parents and the most important determinants of parental decision to accept the offer.
A structured questionnaire was administered by phone interview to parents of children aged 14 to 17 months in the Quebec City area where the vaccine is not publicly funded.
Among the 477 participants, 37% had been offered the vaccine by their health care provider: 45% when the provider was a paediatrician and 29% for general practitioners or public health clinics. Only 13% of offers included information on the risk of varicella complications, the cost, efficacy and safety of the vaccine. By decreasing order of importance, the factors that positively increased parental decision to use varicella vaccine included: information on vaccine safety, a positive recommendation and a higher family income.
Despite a recommendation for universal vaccination, varicella vaccine is not broadly offered and few offers contain all the information both needed to elicit proper consent and correlated with a positive uptake.