Whether it’s a music festival, Disneyland, or international airport, news stories of measles outbreaks and exposures have become common in our news. Several of these outbreaks have been attributed to vaccine hesitancy which can be described as a reluctance or refusal to vaccinate despite access to vaccination. The World Health Organization (WHO) goes as far as to call vaccine hesitancy one of the top ten global health concerns in 2019.
Many scientists have been very vocal about the importance of vaccination, however this may result in social media wars, in which both parties disagree, become increasingly angry, and no movement is made. Our goal is to improve the way we, as scientists, communicate with people who are hesitant about vaccines. Studies have shown that “simply correcting myths about vaccines may not be effective and can even backfire.” In fact, giving patients evidence based explanations about why these myths are untrue actually increased safety concerns. This was suggested to be because hearing these myths reinforces them even if they are untrue.
In an excellent article the WHO goes on to explain the most common logic used to oppose or question vaccination and suggests that the most effective approach is to respond to specific concerns especially in the context of vaccine hesitant parents. You can Take Action by using the literature to your advantage!
Action 1) Address vaccine hesitancy amongst your family and friends using the CASE approach:
Corroborate - begin by acknowledging the concern, identify the root cause of it (ex. child’s safety).
About me - discuss your expertise, this might include research, education, or articles read.
Science - this is where the information sharing occurs. Keep in mind this should be straightforward and aligned to the initial concern.
Explain - this is the chance to explain why you feel strongly that vaccination is the way to go and may advise they discuss further with their doctor.
Action 2) This #TakeActionTuesday let’s encourage a kinder online dialogue with people who are vaccine hesitant. Tweet this WHO article. And use the hashtags #BeKind #Listen #RespondToSpecificConcerns