Vaccines are safe. Vaccines are effective. Vaccines save lives. But why are parents “vaccine-hesitant”?
The global comeback of measles and other preventable viruses is extremely worrisome. Over the past few months, over 200 new cases of measles have occurred in the US. Why is this happening? Why are parents “vaccine-hesitant”?
Parents only want the best for their children. It’s great that they do their own online research and actively participate in their children's medical care. Regarding vaccines, however, there is too much misinformation out there. Not everything on the Mommy Blogs are true! But is that the whole story?
The mistrust of doctors is the main problem. Yes, I said it. People don't trust their doctors. This makes me really sad, but it’s important that doctors address the vaccine problem by rebuilding trust. Maybe it's concern about the influence of Big Pharma on doctors. Perhaps the “Anti-Vaxx” misinformation is so prolific that parents don't believe the scientific evidence that doctors cite. Due to misinformation, many parents are just incredibly scared about harming their children. Unfortunately, many have already made up their minds regarding vaccines long before seeing the doctor.
For physicians to succeed, they must rebuild the trust. This begins with truly listening to the concerns of worried parents. *Always listen first.* Then, doctors should avoid appearing dismissive as they present facts to counter the misinformation. Even with the best of intentions, a busy, stressed-out doctor can unintentionally come across as condescending. Vaccinations is a touchy subject and discussing it takes a lot of nuance. Doctors must understand that building trust is a slow process and vaccinations will need to be addressed over several visits. It takes time, but such efforts are critical to public health success.
This blog post was inspired by the 3/7/19 New York Times opinion piece by Wajahat Ali. If you have time, check it out!