Social Question

hominid's avatar

Do you think that it’s important to use different approaches to fight the reluctance to vaccinate?

Asked by hominid (7347points) February 6th, 2015

From what I can tell, there are different paths people can take to lead to being against vaccination. While I believe that vaccination is the right thing to do, I don’t necessarily think that all of the paths that lead to an anti-vaccination position are equal. But it appears that pro-vaccination advocates are intent on interpreting all anti-vaccination people as having taken the same path. And the result is arrogant and largely missing the point for many people.

We live in a country that usually celebrates individualism and I think it must feel odd for people to see the level of vitriol and arrogance when suddenly everyone has decided that there is such thing as “good for the group”. Our entire healthcare system normally goes out of its way to make this group-over-individual mindset seem absurd. We don’t have universal healthcare, we favor treatment of symptoms rather than preventive care, yet suddenly there are loud voices telling us that we should all do our part for the team. Where’s the team when I have cancer and need to sell my house to pay for medication that will help me live another 3 months?

Many people see corporate programming marketing junk food to their children and selling the expensive treatment for the inevitable obesity. Political correctness comes along and provides a free hand in the marketing of leading an unhealthy lifestyle and treating it later with expensive pills and operations. They see the science about healthy eating (starting with breastfeeding), exercise, and the dangers of obesity, talked about with such a different tone than we are seeing with vaccination (rights and individual freedom vs responsibility to the group). When the neighbor who spends her days driving her SUV to her marketing agency to figure out how to get kids to eat more sugar decides to lecture about personal and social responsibility, I think something doesn’t feel right for many people. The people that are fine with destroying the planet for my children are now lecturing me about my responsibility to others.

I think it’s possible for someone to be confused about vaccination on every level, and still be someone justified in their confusion. Is it possible that there are other ways to address the issue of vaccination that would help people understand why it’s the right thing to do?

I’m extremely pro-vaccination, but even I feel a bit uncomfortable about how concerns about vaccinations are dealt with. I’m not sure I have the answer.

Am I wrong? Should we just treat peoples’ concerns about vaccinations with the same approach? Do you think we’d be better off if we weren’t already so averse to considering the group over the individual?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

18 Answers

elbanditoroso's avatar

tl;dr

But different approaches may not always be effective.

The problem is that if someone has religious/philosophical objections to vaccines, then telling them that they are wrong is perceived by them as a personal attack on their religion. And people generally see that as an attack on their lifestyle, their core being, their ethos, and all of that.

In other words, if their religious belief can be wrong on vaccines, then it can be wrong on what is sinful, and what is the definition of marriage, and so on. And if that happens, that will mean that their identity – their religious belief – is threatened. They don’t like that.

Remember that the people who are not getting their kids vaccines are ideologues who are scoffing at proven scientific fact. These people have chosen to make the irrational decision.

All the convincing and approaches in the world is not going to make an irrational person rational.

SquirrelEStuff's avatar

It’s amazing to me, our constant knee-jerk reaction to things that the media shoves down our throats. I do not underestimate the importance of vaccination, but I do believe that the conversation we are having right now, like most things, are very vague and may effect us in a negative way down the road.

It bothers me that right now, the conversation seems to be about vaccinations in general, and the idea to make them mandatory. We are taking a measles outbreak, and applying this fear to to include talk of all vaccines. And then we lump anyone who even questions vaccines into a group called “anti-vaxxers.”

Has anyone read about the whistleblower who was researching Gardasil, the HPV vaccine? Has anyone heard of polio outbreaks due to vaccines? I know someone personally who contracted polio through his daughter from her vaccination. It took the family 30 some-odd years to reach a settlement with the vaccine maker. Are we going to make these mandatory and figure out the negatives as we go?

We are all aware of the corruption in our media, medical, and pharmaceutical system here. Are we seeing the potential end game by talking about making ALL vaccines mandatory?
If we had the conversation prior to the Ebola scare (whatever happened to that?), would we all be taking an Ebola vaccine right now? Will we be scared into, or mandated, to take vaccines that may not have been completely tested? Look at all the lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies for major side effects with new drugs. Are we considering this a possibility in the vaccination talk?

My fear with this conversation, which like most public conversations, are being dictated by the media and may be missing the big picture. We have become a nation of pusses. The media is constantly keeping us in a state of fear, and when they scare people, people want immediate relief or protection. It seems like everyday, there is a new fear in society that our government must immediately pass new laws or regulations to protect us.

In conclusion, yes, I do believe that we need a different approach to people with concerns about vaccines (and everything else). More and more, we take a subject, divide it into two opinions(left and right), throw everyone in group’s based on their left or right opinion (typically based on if one watched “left” or “right” media), and each group discredits the other with opposite talking points, and if someone has a talking point contrary to either, they are discredited as an “anti-vaxxer” or a “truther.”

marinelife's avatar

It is a question of individual safety. An epidemic could wipe out a generation.

janbb's avatar

@SquirrelEStuff I don’t really want to wade into this much but the truth is that vaccines have been pretty much mandatory for years and it is only recently that more and more people have decided to opt out. When my kids were little, you couldn’t start school or go to camp or play on a team unless your vaccinations were up to date. And do you know how many people were getting polio, or measles or TB before there was widespread vaccination?

But i do agree with your main point that we simplify everything into a left or right position and that is stifling progress in this country.

canidmajor's avatar

I am a firm supporter of childhood vaccines, but I heartily disapprove of the bullying techniques, the mocking, the open and virulent (pun not intended, but recognized) vilification of anyone who even questions the wisdom of vaccinating their own children for specific health reasons. It is impossible to separate the considered, individually educated parents from the ones that follow blindly the misguided celebrity anti-vaxxers in the nasty media.
My friend’s two children are very physically sensitive, and she wants to have them vaccinated with one vaccine at a time spaced farther apart than most pediatricians recommend, and she is constantly bullied for this considered, educated decision. By the medical community and by her peers. And she’s not even resisting vaccination.

Mocking and bullying is NOT the answer. The movement to bludgeon people into compliance is having a very nasty backlash.

Jaxk's avatar

This seems to be a very good discussion. We do seem forward this notion that ‘I’m the expert and you’re the idiot so do what I say’ in most of the discussions on this topic. Ridicule is a very potent weapon but maybe not the only weapon. I found this statement from , Robert Moser, MD, Secretary and State Health Officer, Kansas Department of Health to be quite interesting

”•States that made it easy to get exemptions had 90 percent more cases of whooping cough than states with stricter rules; states that allowed only religious and medical exemptions did not have a significantly higher rate of whooping cough.”

It would seem that religious exemptions are not that prevalent and using the old ‘Bash Christianity’ tactic may not be that useful. In California, where the largest outbreak of Measles has occurred. most non-vaccinated children are the result of philosophical exemptions rather than religious ones. In our haste to ridicule others, we may be targeting the wrong issue.

hominid's avatar

@elbanditoroso: “tl;dr”

@elbanditoroso: “Remember that the people who are not getting their kids vaccines are ideologues who are scoffing at proven scientific fact. ”

I think this is what I was talking about. The people I have come across that are hesitant or have questions are all atheists, all have advanced degrees (as well as a doctor), and appear far more open than this whole “religious nutjob” image we are getting. These people are on the fence. They know the science, they are not religiously-motivated, yet are struggling with this issue for other reasons. Coming at them with a combination of an unwillingness to listen (or “tl;dr”) and inaccurately addressing their concerns seems counter-productive.

@SquirrelEStuff: “It bothers me that right now, the conversation seems to be about vaccinations in general, and the idea to make them mandatory”

Good point. I’ve even done to this here in this question. One of the big concerns I hear from people who are struggling with this is precisely the issue of lumping vaccines together. Maybe it makes sense to talk more about a disease and the solutions for fighting a disease rather than making “x (vaccinations) == good” statements that smart people are skeptical of. And the mandatory talk is bound to get people emotionally-involved in ways that may shut down reasonable conversations.

@canidmajor: “My friend’s two children are very physically sensitive, and she wants to have them vaccinated with one vaccine at a time spaced farther apart than most pediatricians recommend, and she is constantly bullied for this considered, educated decision. By the medical community and by her peers. And she’s not even resisting vaccination.”

Spacing and individual vaccines have been a big thing here for some time. And like you said, the people who are doing this are far from the illiterate fools people would imagine. To the contrary, they are likely the most educated on the topic.

And while I think mockery has a place in many situations, in this case we have a problem. You need to be accurate in your mockery. When it is so inaccurate that you reveal how ignorant you really are, you risk pushing the most logical and educated off the fence in the wrong direction.

@Jaxk: “It would seem that religious exemptions are not that prevalent and using the old ‘Bash Christianity’ tactic may not be that useful. In California, where the largest outbreak of Measles has occurred. most non-vaccinated children are the result of philosophical exemptions rather than religious ones. In our haste to ridicule others, we may be targeting the wrong issue.”

Precisely. The only people I have met who are on the fence or have questions/issues with vaccination are secular liberals. All of this religious talk and ridicule is completely missing the point.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@hominid To say that one is a “secular liberal” is not necessarily to describe a rational person. Most of the people I know who are terrified of GMOs and/or are chemophobes are also secular liberals. I’d be willing to bet that the people you know who are “on the fence” about vaccines fall into that category as well. It doesn’t mean that they are rational or informed or that they “know the science”. My anti-GMO friends think they “know the science”, too. Trouble is, they’re getting all that “science” from the same hysterical blogs.

hominid's avatar

@dappled_leaves: “To say that one is a “secular liberal” is not necessarily to describe a rational person.”

I’m glad we agree.

@dappled_leaves: “It doesn’t mean that they are rational or informed or that they “know the science”.”

When I say that they “know the science”, I mean…if you start to talk to them about a study, you feel like an asshole. They know everything about the study and can provide the data on the spot. They’re not denying the science. They’re just making other decisions and potentially dealing with emotional hijacking having to do with raising children.

All I’m trying to say is that lumping these people (and doctors) in with Christian fundamentalists and anti-science freaks means that we’re going to miss them. I have personally convinced two couples who were on the fence and wrestling with these issues (to pretend that there are no issues here is like folding your cards and going home) to get their kids vaccinated. I didn’t have to jab at them and ask if they were also anti-GMO. I didn’t have to pretend they were fundamentalist Christians. I didn’t have to do anything but listen. Then I could address their concerns.

All I’m saying is that much of what I hear from people advocating vaccination would have me confused if I wasn’t already in support of vaccinating.

stanleybmanly's avatar

There are always going to be people with adverse opinions regarding the utility of innoculations. Whether for religious reasons or suspicions of unpredictable side effects, these folks obtain a free ride compliments of the rest of us. It is indeed a question of the security of the group vs. the rights of the individual. At first glance, one might conclude that the situation might be tolerated as long as the numbers of the doubters lie below a certain threshold. Every once in a while an unvaccinated person comes down with measles or whooping cough and that’s the end of it. The problem with this line of thought is that there are just far too many of us and we get around much too quickly and far too often. The other problem is that diseases mutate, and some of them frighteningly fast.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@hominid “if you start to talk to them about a study, you feel like an asshole. They know everything about the study and can provide the data on the spot.”

Sure, this happens with young-earth creationists, too. They have their handful of studies that appear to back up their claim, then they ignore everything else. Particularly, they ignore later studies that show theirs is invalid or has been superseded by new and better information, or they ignore discussions that criticize the methods.

I’m not sure why “emotional hijacking” comes into the decision-making process at all. That sounds like a matter of pride. Pride isn’t going to keep anyone’s children alive. I mean, I don’t know why parents feel that the decision is theirs to make, but if it is, I wouldn’t be basing it on “How do I feel about the people advising me?” I would be basing it on “What is the right thing to do?” If they’re making decisions based on the former, then I’m sorry if you don’t like the terminology, but they’re idiots.

hominid's avatar

@dappled_leaves – I’m afraid that we’re talking past each other, which in a way is exactly my concern about this whole issue.

@dappled_leaves: “They have their handful of studies that appear to back up their claim, then they ignore everything else. Particularly, they ignore later studies that show theirs is invalid or has been superseded by new and better information, or they ignore discussions that criticize the methods.”

Let me state this as clear as I can:

They know the science. They accept the science. None of it conflicts with your understanding of the science. It’s the complete opposite of the young-earth creationists scenario. The people I have met who are on the fence about this are not arguing against the science. They are not saying they have different studies to go with. They are using the same data that you and I are using, but have other concerns.

I’m hoping if you come to New England and bump into one of these people that you’ll actually listen to them. It’s fascinating. Are they on this particular issue? Sure, in my opinion. Are people addressing their concerns? No.

Lately, when I meet someone who is all jacked up on adrenaline and want to talk about “anti-vaxxers”, I get the feeling that there is way too much emotion involved. It’s difficult to talk to them. Same with anti-choice activists.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@hominid We are not exactly talking past each other. My last paragraph addresses “other concerns”. I don’t understand how anyone could accept that vaccines will keep their children safe, then decide not to vaccinate based on “other concerns”. Perhaps you could explain what these other concerns are.

jaytkay's avatar

I know someone personally who contracted polio through his daughter from her vaccination. It took the family 30 some-odd years to reach a settlement with the vaccine maker.

That sounds interesting. Was that a state case or federal? What is the case number or plaintiff’s name? You can send it to me by private message if you don’t want to publish it.

wildpotato's avatar

Of course it’s important to use different approaches. Different people will be idiotic for different reasons, and apparently we must address all paths idiocy can take to the anti-vax conclusion. That there are different forms of the idiocy doesn’t mean these people aren’t idiots. And I disagree with you – all paths to the anti-vax conclusion are equal, if they lead to that ultimate conclusion. Who cares if anti-vaxxers are being stupid because they are religious, or crunchy, or anti-establishment, beyond knowing how to frame one’s counter to the stupid? Also, possessing an advanced degree or being a doctor does not equal being able to think rationally about every subject, or even necessarily about their own speciality. Even for the most intelligent among us – sometimes especially, since they think they must know better because they are so intelligent – selective blindness is a thing. And valuing individuality is no excuse, especially because I don’t see individuality being displayed here so much as egotism and immaturity. To not go with the flow simply for the sake of being contrarian – which I tend to think is the underlying motive for all your “different concerns,” whether anti-vaxxers claim to understand the science or not – is itself a guided response to the establishment, plus it’s a pretty damn childish thing to do.

SquirrelEStuff's avatar

@jaytkay

Here ya go:
http://www.courts.state.ny.us/REPORTER/3dseries/2010/2010_50255.htm

“This may be especially true when the manufacturer as disclosed in this case was aware that there existed an increased risk by taking an oral polio vaccine in that at least 8–10 persons per year were contracting contact polio. With that knowledge, Lederle, the manufacturer neglected to enhance the warnings to health care providers that were administering the Sabin oral polio vaccine, which was a live virus as opposed to the Salk attenuated or dead polio virus vaccine.”

jaytkay's avatar

@SquirrelEStuff Well, that’s horrific.

It’s not an argument against vaccines, though. Before the vaccine, polio was killing thousands each year and paralyzing tens of thousands.

SquirrelEStuff's avatar

@jaytkay

I agree with you. My point was that we need to be very careful about mandating ALL vaccines, especially with how fearful of a society we have become, combined with the power of our pharmaceutical companies. I am not trying to argue against vaccines, just that we must not completely ignore people who have concerns regarding vaccines, because I believe there is historical data to show that not all vaccines are perfect.
Again, I am not underestimating the importance of vaccinations, but am also not underestimating the power of fear, and how we can quickly have public opinion want to force things among other people.
We have only been talking about the vaccine issue for only a short time, and it seems most people have strong opinions of it, without seeing the potential abuses down the road by having such a vague conversation.
I feel if we had this conversation prior to the Ebola scare, many people would be pushing for mandated Ebola vaccines, which may not be completely tested and ready, and who knows how that may be applied to any other future scares.

I think @hominid hit the nail on the head when they said, “Good point. I’ve even done to this here in this question. One of the big concerns I hear from people who are struggling with this is precisely the issue of lumping vaccines together. Maybe it makes sense to talk more about a disease and the solutions for fighting a disease rather than making “x (vaccinations) == good” statements that smart people are skeptical of. And the mandatory talk is bound to get people emotionally-involved in ways that may shut down reasonable conversations.”

We should be talking about fighting the individual disease, rather than lumping vaccines together as a whole.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the vaccine talk blows over, and we have some far-reaching new laws or regulations in the upcoming future.

I understand that lack of vaccines pose the risk of disease spreading and possibly wiping out massive amounts of people, but I also understand that we are a fearful society, with corrrupt governments and corporations, and that we may run just as high of a risk of having vaccines that could possibly cause more issues than the diseases themselves, because of how quick we are to react to fear.

For another example of this, see http://www.mctlawyers.com/vaccine-injury/guillain-barre-syndrome/

Answer this question

Login

or

Join

to answer.
Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
or
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther