Tag: informed consent

Decoding Anti-Vaccine Protests

Yes, even in this age of recordbreaking measles cases, there are some anti-vaccine folks protesting because they want to keep their kids unvaccinated and unprotected.

Decoding Anti-Vaccine Protests

What reasons do they have to intentionally not vaccinate their kids?

Who's protecting us from the people protesting against vaccines?
Who’s protecting us from the people protesting against vaccines?

As many reasons as there are anti-vaccine talking points…

What is truly disturbing though, is that today’s anti-vaccine protestors are co-opting many symbols, language, and slogans and using them to get attention.

Del Bigtree wasn't the only one to wear a yellow star during anti-vaccine protests.
Del Bigtree wasn’t the only one to wear a yellow star during anti-vaccine protests.

Remember when anti-vaccine folks had to be called out for using Holocaust imagery to protest against vaccines.

How Did These Become Anti-Vaccine Slogans?

That’s not all they are doing though.

Did you know that they are also using:

If you do not consent, you won't get vaccinated and protected.
  • Me Too – a movement to support survivors and end sexual violence, anti-vaccine folks use it to when they talk about vaccine injuries.
  • I do not consent – typically about limiting searches when police don’t have a warrant, the anti-vaccine movement abuses it for something that they do have to consent for – getting vaccinated! If you do not consent, you won’t get vaccinated and protected.
  • Informed consent – again, this is something anti-vaccine folks abuse, as their decisions are being influenced by myths and misinformation, so it is not informed consent. It’s more like misinformed consent.

And then there are the anti-vaxxers who use “choice” as their argument.

If you weren't aware, this post makes it obvious where the choice argument comes from. No, it's not AoA, but from the pro-choice movement.
If you weren’t aware, this post makes it obvious where the choice argument comes from. No, it’s not AoA, but from the pro-choice movement.

Anti-vaxxers are only pro-choice for not vaccinating their kids though. They don’t care if we have a choice about wanting to be protected from being exposed to vaccine-preventable diseases.

Dog Whistles for Refusing Vaccines

What’s the big problem with choice as an argument for anti-vaccine folks?

Parents already have a choice to leave their kids unvaccinated and at risk for measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases.

They already have choices!

No one is forcing them to vaccinate their kids.

Of course, what they want is more choices. They want the option to send their intentionally unvaccinated kids to daycare and school, where they would pose a risk to others. They want to limit our choices for decreasing the risks of keeping our kids safe from vaccine-preventable diseases.

How? Their intentionally unvaccinated kids are at greater risk to get measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases, which they can then spread to others.

What does all of this really mean?

Just realize that all of these slogans are being co-opted and are being used as dog whistles for the anti-vaccine movement, diluting their original meaning.

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Who Is Arthur Caplan?

Plenty of folks claim to be experts on vaccines.

Some are experts because they study epidemiology, others because they study immunology or infectious disease.

And then there are the experts in vaccination ethics.

Who Is Arthur Caplan?

With a Ph.D. in the history of philosophy of science, Dr. Art Caplan went on to co-found The Hastings Center, a bioethics research institute.

Arthur Caplan does a good job of calling out folks who push anti-vaccine misinformation.
Arthur Caplan does a good job of calling out folks who push anti-vaccine misinformation.

He has since written dozens of books and nearly a thousand articles in peer-reviewed journals, working most recently at New York University’s Langone Medical Center, where he is the founding head of the Division of Medical Ethics.

“When politicians ignore the evidence, fail to cite appropriate medical authorities, and rely on hearsay and rumor, with the result that people — out of ignorance or error — don’t vaccinate their children, we can and should deny them elective office. When a doctor does so, we should demand that he forfeit his right to use his medical degree to misinform, confuse or lie.”

Arthur L. Caplan on Revoke the license of any doctor who opposes vaccination

It shouldn’t be a surprise that Art Caplan has a lot to say about vaccines.

“Faulty ethical thinking is to blame. We are elevating parents’ rights to make misinformed decisions over the rights of children to get important vaccines. Infants and young children are blocked from receiving their routine childhood immunizations by parents who espouse an aberrant ideology of choice or are being duped by anti-vaccine groups. In so doing, they are violating children’s rights to health, welfare and equal opportunity.”

Arthur L. Caplan and Peter J. Hotez on Anti-vaccine misinformation denies children’s rights

He also has a lot to say about measles, other vaccine-preventable diseases, and how to get control back before these outbreaks turn into true epidemics.

“What should we be doing to protect our communities, our children, and ourselves? We should halt the spread of anti-vaccine misinformation and take steps to stop nonmedical vaccine exemptions. We need to restore vaccines and vaccinations as the “new normal” in America.”

Arthur L Caplan on Let’s Treat Measles Seriously

Are you still thinking about skipping or delaying your child’s vaccines?

After reading some of Dr. Caplan’s work, you should know that it’s not safe, has no benefits, and isn’t the ethical thing to do.

More on Arthur Caplan and Vaccine Ethics

Do I Have to Sign a Consent Form Before Getting a Vaccine?

Most people likely think that they need to sign a consent form before getting their kids vaccinated?

Why?

Do I Have to Sign a Consent Form Before Getting a Vaccine?

Because many pediatricians and clinics have parents sign a form acknowledging that they have received a Vaccine Information Statement (VIS), so they likely figure that they are required to sign.

While it may be common practice, unless it is required by state law, no one has to actually sign a consent form before getting vaccinated. A signature is not required by federal law.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that you don’t have to get informed consent before giving a vaccine. You just don’t typically need a signature to confirm that you got informed consent.

“Those who are capable of giving consent may do so in writing, orally or by co­operation. Completion of a consent form is not a legal requirement. A signature on a consent form does not itself prove that the consent is valid but it does serve to record the decision that was reached, and the discussions that have taken place. The Bristol Royal Infirmary Inquiry Final Report (2001) reported that ‘too great a regard is paid to the symbolic act of signing a piece of paper rather than to the real task… which involves explaining what is to take place. ’”

Green Book: Chapter 2 Consent (UK)

So why do you have to sign when your child is getting a vaccine?

“There is no federal requirement for signed consent for any dose of vaccine. The federal requirement is to provide all adult patients or parents/legal representatives of minor children with the appropriate VIS for each dose of vaccine administered… Some clinics, agencies, and/or state immunization programs may have requirements for signatures.”

Ask the Experts About Documenting Vaccination

Although not usually required and the signature shouldn’t be the focus of consent, a signature still helps to confirm that informed consent was provided.

More on Signing Vaccine Consent Forms

How Do You Provide Informed Consent to Vaccination?

When you take your child to their pediatrician, you expect to be given all of the information you need to help you make good decisions about their care.

Whether it is about an antibiotic to treat an ear infection, the need for an MRI if your child is having severe headaches, or weaning off an asthma medication, etc., you deserve to be well informed of the risks and benefits of any and all procedures they have.

How Do You Provide Informed Consent to Vaccination?

Of course, informed consent also applies to vaccinations.

It's not an "informed consent form," but the Vaccine Information Statement can help you get informed consent before getting vaccines.
It’s not an “informed consent form,” but the Vaccine Information Statement can help you get informed consent before getting vaccines.

How do you provide informed consent to vaccination?

  1. Provide the latest edition of the appropriate Vaccine Information Statement (VIS) before a vaccination is given. Although these aren’t actually “informed consent forms,” they are required to be given by federal law and because “cover both benefits and risks associated with vaccinations, they provide enough information that anyone reading them should be adequately informed”
  2. Give parents/guardians the chance to take the VIS home to review later.
  3. Answer any questions about the vaccine that their child is about to get.

Hopefully you always get informed consent before your child is vaccinated.

You should also get informed consent before skipping or delaying any of your child’s vaccines, as it risks their getting a life-threatening vaccine-preventable disease and puts others at risk, all without any extra benefit.

“At trial, the parent and physician both acknowledged that the vaccine was recommended, but the parent stated that the risk of death wasn’t mentioned during the discussion.”

Document ‘informed refusal’ just as you would informed consent

Believe it or not, a pediatrician in California was successfully sued after a parent refused to vaccinate their child with Prevnar and their infant died of pneumococcal sepsis, which the vaccine could have prevented.

Although they realized that their pediatrician had recommended the vaccine and they refused it, they claimed that they didn’t realize that their baby could die without it. He did…

Myths About Informed Consent and Vaccines

Not surprisingly, many folks get the idea of informed consent to vaccination wrong.

For one thing, unless it is required by state law, no one has to sign a consent form before getting vaccinated. Many pediatricians and clinics do have you sign that you received the VIS, although federal law does not require this signature.

And informed consent doesn’t come from reading a vaccine’s package insert, as the parts pushed by anti-vaccine folks are just things included from voluntary reports and have not actually been proven to be caused by the vaccine.

“Now that case one is settled, I can go back to being loud and proud about my belief that every single patient should receive complete informed consent prior to vaccinations. This two-year period of silence has been tough. I will not rest until every single family has been given access to full, complete, objective, and un-doctored information that makes every parent fully aware of the risks they accept if they don’t vaccinate their child, and all the risks they take if they do vaccinate their child. Period. And I will fight against mandatory vaccination laws until they are no more. When every single person on this planet has access to informed consent, and can make a free choice, I will then be able to say my work is done.”

Dr. Bob Sears

When Dr. Bob talks about vaccines, do you think he mentions the parents who skipped the Prevnar vaccine and then successfully sued their pediatrician for not warning them that their baby would die? 

Dr. Bob Sears actually reassured parents that measles wasn't deadly in developed countries, neglecting to mention the dozens of people who have died in outbreaks in Europe - another well-nourished population with lower vaccination rates than the U.S.
Dr. Bob Sears actually reassured parents that measles wasn’t deadly in developed countries, neglecting to mention the dozens of people who have died in outbreaks in Europe – another well-nourished population with lower vaccination rates than the U.S.

Overstating the side effects and risks of getting vaccinated, rarely or ever mentioning the benefits of vaccines, and underestimating the complications and risks of life-threatening vaccine-preventable diseases isn’t informed consent.

It is actually misinformed consent.

It is propaganda.

It is a tool that some folks use to scare you away from making the right decision to vaccinate and protect your kids.

Parents deserve informed consent about vaccines. Unfortunately, that’s not what they are getting from the modern anti-vaccine movement.

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