Doctors embrace project to help fight anti-vaccination misinformation

Project Is Helping Physicians Fight Immunization Pushback.

To prepare physicians-in-training to deal with immunization pushback from parents and others, the California AFP (CAFP) and other partners have lent their support to the American Academy of Pediatrics, California, to help develop and distribute a vaccine safety communication curriculum designed for primary care residency programs nationwide.

According to family physician Jeffery Luther, M.D., of Long Beach, Calif., the project began just more than two years ago in response to the growing number of parents who reject vaccinations for their children, as well as adults who choose to forgo their own vaccinations.

“Residents are not really trained to deal with that kind of pseudoscience,” Luther told AAFP News Now. “So we developed a program that will teach residents to counsel these parents and patients in order to improve vaccination rates.

The curriculum that the groups developed based on the survey and other data uses an online case-based format designed to put residents in real-life vaccination communication scenarios. It also guides trainees through websites that offer evidence-based information about vaccine safety — as well as those that propagate misinformation about vaccines — and helps them recognize the difference.

Tip: CFI’s Morning Heresy

What a great project. Giving medical residents the information they need to be prepared for onslaught of anti-vaccination propaganda and recognizing the misinformation that is out there.

A study done for the project showed an alarming rate of people who refuse to vaccinate their kids, listing fear of autism as the number one reason, 72.9%. Vaccines are unrelated to autism.

Parents are also afraid of a vaccine being too new and its safety is questioned, they fear that children receive too many vaccines are given to children in the first 2 years and that will have some health risks. Many misundstandings can be corrected by better information provided to ease parents’ worries. When physicians approach parents forewarned, they can better understand and handle their questions.

The project seems to be making some headway in the medical community. More informed doctors, even when informed about misinformation prevalent in the public, means a better and less stressful doctor’s visit.

  6 comments for “Doctors embrace project to help fight anti-vaccination misinformation

  1. Phil
    April 10, 2012 at 6:47 PM

    This is an interesting map, highlighting the states that allowed “personal belief” exemptions in 2011:

    In short, the “Wild West” is bright green. This town needs a sheriff–I just hope the AAPC is fast on the draw.

  2. April 10, 2012 at 10:02 PM

    Interesting. Personal belief needs to be supplemented with a damn good reason!

  3. Dawn
    April 17, 2012 at 5:12 PM

    My daughter has full body sand paper rash reactions after each vaccination. Is that a good enough reason?

  4. Chew
    April 17, 2012 at 8:28 PM

    It is a good enough reason to get your daughter tested for allergies and then asking for an alternative vaccine that doesn’t contain whatever she is allergic to.

  5. Sarah
    April 20, 2012 at 5:28 PM

    That’s a nice idea, but that option doesn’t exist. While the CDC does have a published list of vaccine “ingredients”, there are undisclosed components. Your doctor would have to know everything involved in making all parts of the vaccine in order to do a fair evaluation. Also, “alternative vaccines” don’t exist. There’s no vaccine compounding pharmacist. Vaccines are only available as is, from the manufacturer. There’s no picking and choosing what goes into them.

  6. Sarah
    April 20, 2012 at 5:33 PM

    If you remove a vaccine component, your immune system may not make sufficient antibodies. Adjuvents exist to coax the immune system into mounting a very strong response.

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