Tag: anti-vaccine talking points

How Pediatricians Should Talk to Vaccine Hesitant Parents

Vaccine hesitant parents sometimes don’t get time to talk with a pediatrician about vaccines.

They might not even get an appointment with their new baby if they express doubts about wanting to vaccinate their kids or about wanting to skip or delay some vaccines.

That’s unfortunate, as I think many would choose to vaccinate and protect their kids if they got answers to the anti-vaccine talking points that scare them.

Myth busting by itself doesn’t always seem to work though.

How Pediatricians Should Talk to Vaccine Hesitant Parents

It is understandable that pediatricians get frustrated talking to some anti-vaccine parents.

Pediarix, Hib, Prevnar, and Rota vaccines have been prepared for an infant at her well child visit.
Pediarix, Hib, Prevnar, and Rota vaccines for my daughter at her 2 month well visit 10 years ago. Photo by Vincent Iannelli, MD

One strategy that might work includes asking open ended questions about why the parent is hesitant to vaccinate their kids. Next, while responding to a few of their biggest concerns, be sure to affirm what the parent is saying and use reflective listening.

How might these vaccination-focused motivational interviewing techniques work during a typical visit at a pediatrician’s office? Instead of getting frustrated and accepting a copy of Dr. Bob’s alternative schedule, you might ask them:

  • What specifically are you afraid of?
  • You are really worried that your child might get sick after their vaccines.
  • It sounds like you think kids get too many shots.

Now, address a few of those concerns.

Pediatricians often feel like they don’t have enough time to have long discussions about vaccines, when they also need to talk about many other important topics at each visit, including nutrition, development, and safety, etc. The vaccine talk doesn’t have to be extensive though. Just get it started and come back to it again at the next visit.

You can also recommend some good vaccine books and websites to help parents do more research.

Talking About Vaccines

It is not enough to simply tell your vaccine hesitant parents to read a book, visit a website, or offer them some handouts though. It is important that pediatricians also talk to parents about vaccines.

Study after study show that pediatricians are the most influential, most convincing, and most used source of information about vaccines for many parents.

“How providers initiate and pursue vaccine recommendations is associated with parental vaccine acceptance.”

Opel et al on The Architecture of Provider-Parent Vaccine Discussions at Health Supervision Visits

Just remember, when you have these talks, to:

  • Use vaccination-focused motivational interviewing techniques for vaccine-hesitant parents.
  • Avoid using scientific and medical jargon.
  • Help parents who may have a skewed perception of the risks of vaccines vs risks of vaccine preventable diseases, by emphasizing that vaccines are very safe.
  • Avoid simply minimizing or dismissing a parent’s concerns about vaccines without providing a fact based explanation for why they shouldn’t be worried.
  • Highlight the benefits of vaccines, including all of the social benefits.
  • Avoid a “data dump,” in which you might overwhelm a vaccine hesitant parent with too much information all at once and in what they might see as a lecture about accepting vaccines.
  • Always use presumptive language and high-quality recommendations when you talk about vaccines.
  • Include stories and anecdotes about kids who have gotten sick and parents who regret not vaccinating their kids.
  • Become familiar with the anti-vaccine talking points that may be scaring your patients away from getting vaccinated on time. Why is this important? If they are concerned about glyphosate, you might not sound too convincing telling them not to worry if you don’t even know what glyphosate is.
  • Try the CASE Method for talking about vaccine concerns.

Are your kids fully vaccinated? Talk about that too.

There is much more to all of this than simply letting parents follow non-standard, parent-selected, delayed protection vaccine schedules and arguing with them about getting caught up.

What to Know About Talking to Vaccine Hesitant Parents

Learning new ways to talk to vaccine hesitant parents, including the use of vaccination-focused motivational interviewing techniques, presumptive language, and high-quality recommendations, might help pediatricians have more success and get less frustrated.

More About Talking to Vaccine Hesitant Parents

Who is Meryl Dorey?

Meryl Dorey and her Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network have been found to push misleading and inaccurate information about vaccines.
Meryl Dorey and her AVN have been found to push misleading information about vaccines.

Haven’t heard of Meryl Dorey?

She is the Rosemary Fox of Australia.

Rosemary Fox?

She is the Barbara Loe Fisher of the UK.

Just as Fox formed the Association of Parents of Vaccine Damaged Children and Fisher formed Dissatisfied Parents Together (which later became the NVIC), Meryl Dorey formed the Australian Vaccination Network.

Basically, if you look at their roles in the history of the anti-vaccine movement, they all work to scare parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids.

Who is Meryl Dorey?

Meryl Dorey takes it to a whole other level though.

“Court orders rape of a child. Think this is an exaggeration? Think again. This is assault without consent and with full penetration too.”

Meryl Dorey

Why was she talking about rape?

A court had sided with a father who wanted his daughter vaccinated, even though his ex-wife, with whom he shared custody, didn’t.

Does that sound anything like rape to you?

Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network

The Australian Vaccination Network was formed in 1994.

The AVN was later ordered to change its name because it was too misleading and they chose the Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network.

“Fair Trading acted in this matter after receiving numerous complaints, including from the Australian Medical Association, that the AVN name was misleading given its overwhelming focus on the publication of anti-vaccination messages and information.”

Minister for Fair Trading Agency Anthony Roberts

Of course, they haven’t stopped pushing anti-vaccination misinformation.

And if you didn’t think someone could go lower than the rape analogy, Meryl Dorey has actually harassed a family whose 4-week-old baby died of whooping cough!

What else has she done?

  • when discussing a campaign slogan to help associate vaccines with shaken baby syndrome, Meryl Dorey suggested using “Shaken Maybe Syndrome” as a great sound bite
  • also suggested using the catch phrase “Shaken from the inside” to help highlight what she thinks is the “devastating internal adverse reactions from vaccines” and what are causing shaken baby syndrome
  • Meryl Dorey said that getting measles is the equivalent of getting a hang nail, although “hang nails can be a bit more painful!”

After an investigation in 2014, Meryl Dorey and her group also received a warning from the New South Wales Health Care Complaints Commission.

“The Commission has established that AVN does not provide reliable information in relation to certain vaccines and vaccination more generally. The Commission considers that AVN’s dissemination of misleading, misrepresented and incorrect information about vaccination engenders fear and alarm and is likely to detrimentally affect the clinical management or care of its readers.

Given the issues identified with the information disseminated by AVN, the Commission urges general caution is exercised when using AVN’s website or Facebook page to research vaccination and to consult other reliable sources, including speaking to a medical practitioner, to make an informed decision.

The Commission has recommended that AVN amend its published information with regard to the above issues and the Commission will monitor the implementation of these recommendations.”

NSW Health Care Complains Commission on the AVN

Most recently, Meryl Dorey’s group hosted the Vaxxed Down Under Tour, which ended up getting Polly Tommey, one of the producers, banned from returning to Australia for at least three years!

What To Know About Meryl Dorey

Like most folks in the anti-vaccine movement, Meryl Dorey and her AVN group push “misleading, misrepresented and incorrect information about vaccination” that helps scare parents away from the vaccines that could help protect them from vaccine-preventable diseases.

More on Meryl Dorey

Answers to Anti-Vaccine Talking Points

Polio Vaccine - don't wait until it's too late.
You can sometimes wait too long to get a child immunized…

Anti-vaccine folks are very good at coming up with questions about vaccines.

And there is nothing wrong with that.

It is good to be skeptical about things.

Unfortunately, they tend to believe the answers that they make up and any “evidence” that agrees with their point of view (confirmation bias). They also will agree with any “expert” who agrees with them, even if 99.99% of experts don’t.

And tragically, they sometimes convince some vaccine-hesitant parents that their answers are right too.

Answers to Anti-Vaccine Talking Points

Most questions people have about vaccines have easy answers.

Anti-vaccine folks likely were not expecting answers when they came up with their “9 Questions That Stump Every Pro-Vaccine Advocate and Their Claims,” but they quickly got them, even after they came up with 9 new questions.

So folks were hardly stumped by these fallacious arguments…

“To say that the relationship that antivaccine activists have with science and fact is a tenuous, twisted one is a major understatement.”

David Gorski on How Not To Debate a Pro-Vaxxer

How about all of the graphs they made proving that vaccines don’t work?

Or the 14 studies that they think say vaccines cause autism?

It should be obvious by now that folks who push anti-vaccine misinformation have a poor understanding of science and a “poor understanding of how vaccination works.”

Parents who are hesitant about vaccinating and protecting their kids shouldn’t though.

Johns Hopkins Medicine, which includes the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the The Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System went out of their way to correct this anti-vaccine misinformation.
Johns Hopkins Medicine, which includes the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the The Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System went out of their way to correct this anti-vaccine misinformation.
  • Learn what package inserts really say and don’t say.
  • Review common contraindications to getting vaccinated, so that you can understand that there are actually very few reasons to not vaccinate your kids.
  • Understand that shedding isn’t the big risk that some folks claim it to be, certainly doesn’t cause outbreaks, and doesn’t routinely restrict kids from visiting cancer patients.
  • Know that vaccines worked to eradicated smallpox, helped control measles, diphtheria, rubella, and other vaccine preventable diseases, and have helped get us very close to eradicating polio.
  • Understand that kids get more vaccines today so that they are better protected, but that it is still not too many and that they don’t get them too soon.
  • Review why vaccine ingredients are not toxic.
  • Know that no major religion is against you getting your kids vaccinated.

Getting educated about vaccines and vaccine-preventable diseases will help you make a truly informed decision so that you don’t fall for the tactics and tropes of the anti-vaccine movement.

After all, once you get educated about vaccines, you will know that:

  • Andrew Wakefield has never been proven right
  • the movie VAXXED is pure propaganda
  • the CDC Whistleblower didn’t really blow the whistle on the CDC
  • herd immunity is real
  • they vaccinated folks at Leicester, it wasn’t all about quarantines
  • unavoidably unsafe does not mean that vaccines are dangerous
  • while almost $3.5 billion dollars have been paid out by the Vaccine Court since 1988 for about 5,555 compensated awards, it is important to understand that at least 2.8 billion doses of vaccines have been given just since 2006, and almost 80% of the compensated cases were settled, without an admission that a vaccine caused an injury.
  • the anti-vaccine movement harms autistic kids and their families
  • your pediatrician, with the CDC and Big Pharma, and doctors all over the world, are not part of a conspiracy hiding evidence that vaccines cause autism or any other vaccine induced diseases
  • while waning immunity is a problem with some vaccines, we are still in much better shape than we were in the pre-vaccine era, so even these vaccines are working, if not working perfectly well.
  • an unvaccinated child can more easily get measles, chicken pox, mumps, or pertussis because they don’t have immunity, not because we think these vaccine-preventable diseases will spontaneously pop up in their bodies.
  • natural immunity is great, as long as your child doesn’t suffer any of the complications of having a life-threatening disease.
  • you can sometimes wait too long to get your child immunized – long enough for them to get a vaccine-preventable disease that could have been prevented by a vaccine they didn’t get.

Most importantly,  realize that no matter what decision you make, no one is going to force you to vaccinate your child. You always have a choice, even if your choice is to skip or delay your child’s vaccines and put those around you at increased risk for getting a vaccine preventable disease.

What To Know About Anti-Vaccine Talking Points

Get educated about vaccines and vaccine-preventable diseases so that you will understand that vaccines are safe, necessary, and that they work, and so you will be able to counter any anti-vaccine talking point you hear.