Anti-vaccination movement: It’s time for doctors to take a stand

From The LA Times:,0,6638791.story#axzz2jojkReJ6

November 5, 2013

Are doctors inadvertently fueling the anti-vaccine movement?

A study published Monday in the Journal of Pediatrics analyzed more than 100 vaccine discussions involving 16 healthcare providers and found that how the doctor phrased the vaccine question had an impact on swaying parents who were hesitant about whether to vaccinate their children.

The study found that when doctors told parents it was time to vaccinate (“It’s time for Bobby to have his shots”) rather than presenting it as a question (“What do you want to do about Bobby’s shots?”), parents were much more likely to accept vaccination. As the study by Dr. Douglas Opel, assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle, suggests, doctors need to stop presenting vaccination as a question and more assertively advocate for the potentially lifesaving vaccination of young children.

Of course, parents should not be pressured into vaccinating. They should have questions answered and should make decisions based on informed consent. But from a public health perspective, vaccination should not be presented as a choice, implying equally valid options, especially in the context of rampant vaccine misinformation.

From the moment of conception, today’s parents are swamped with information overload and an endless barrage of choices. The Internet is teeming with information on every conceivable choice a parent may encounter. Parents don’t need to go very far to find opposition to vaccination, whether in play groups or online. Though suspicion about vaccines is not new, a now widely discredited study published in 1998 linking the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine to autism kicked the panic over vaccines into overdrive. And anti-vaccination zealots like Jenny McCarthy continue to fire up the “debate.”

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