A Doctor's Advice to Parents about Vaccinations - Page 2
Acknowledging that eliminating exemptions for religious and personal beliefs would encounter substantial resistance, Diekema remains resolute. “The exemption process should not be easier or less costly than the vaccination process. Obtaining a religious or personal-belief exemption should at least require a visit to the physician's office, including counseling on the risks posed by remaining unvaccinated; insurance should pay for such visits.” States could require exemption requests to be signed by both parents if both are legally authorized. “Although such measures wouldn't change the stance of the most resistant parents, they would eliminate many exemptions sought because of convenience rather than conviction.”
Diekema also points out that lax enforcement of school-entry requirements communicates that vaccination is merely bureaucratic rather than a way to ensure students' safety.
3. Address misinformation about vaccines promptly and aggressively. “False or misleading information about vaccination is widely dispersed by a few influential individuals, self-described vaccine-safety advocates and some clinicians. Public health officials and professional organizations should respond swiftly to dishonest or unbalanced portrayals of vaccination.”
4. Clinicians, health-care organizations and public health departments must be persuasive. “Data and facts,” Diekema states, “no matter how strongly supportive of vaccination, will not be sufficient to compete with the opposition's emotional appeals. The use of a compelling story about a single victim of vaccine-preventable illness is far more likely than data to move an audience to action.”
This outreach, he says, is the responsibility of primary care providers. “Parents will be most receptive to considering vaccination if they believe their provider is primarily motivated by the welfare of the individual child rather than an abstract public health goal.” As we’ve said over and over, a doctor’s willingness to listen respectfully, encourage questions and respect parental concerns are essential for any professional health-care provider. Accurate information about both risks and benefits is crucial to maintaining trust, and must include a discussion of risks associated with both remaining unvaccinated and delaying certain vaccines.
5. Set an example. “We're unlikely to achieve optimal vaccination rates until health-care professionals comply with vaccine recommendations for themselves and their children. The unwillingness of many clinicians to submit to influenza vaccination each year is disgraceful, sets a poor example and gives patients reason to question the safety and efficacy of vaccines.”
We couldn’t agree more: Doctor, heal thyself.