Listening vs Coercion on ‘Vaccine Hesitancy’

Listening vs Coercion on ‘Vaccine Hesitancy’

Story Highlights

  • Public shaming of vaccine-hesitant parents has reached new heights.
  • Those who question mainstream vaccine policy tend to be among the most educated, well-informed parents.
  • Respectful conversations about vaccination between health care professionals and their patients is more effective than coercive tactics.

The rhetoric surrounding vaccination has long been dismissive of anyone who questions the safety or effectiveness of vaccines or refuses to follow vaccine use recommendations by public health officials and physicians, but the vitriol has reached new heights of late. On one end of the spectrum is the relentless bashing of a young mother who had the audacity to ask on social media what she might do to protect her unvaccinated three-year-old from outbreaks of measles.1

On the other end of the spectrum is the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) declaration of vaccine hesitancy as “one of the top ‘Ten Threats to Global Health in 2019’, alongside air pollution and climate change; noncommunicable diseases; global influenza pandemic; antimicrobial resistance and infectious diseases such as Ebola, dengue fever and HIV.”2

However, one thing many studies have found is that people who favor exercising their informed consent rights with regard to vaccination tend to be among the most educated and conscientious of parents. Several of those studies are summarized and referenced by pediatrician Paul Thomas, MD.3 Commonalities that arose from those studies indicated that while the parents of incompletely vaccinated children trended toward being single, young, poor and less well educated, those of deliberately unvaccinated children were more likely to be college educated and married, with a higher income and had spent time rigorously researching vaccine information.3  

Other researchers have shown that a prevalence among vaccine-hesitant parents “salutogenic parenting,” defined as those who “practised health promoting activities which they saw as boosting the natural immunity of their children and protecting them from illness (reducing or negating the perceived need for vaccinations). Salutogenic parenting practices included breastfeeding, eating organic and/or home-grown food, cooking from scratch to reduce preservative consumption and reducing exposure to toxins.”4

Another quality identified as common among those who question the recommended schedule of childhood vaccinations or forced vaccination policies is distrust of conventional Western medicine.5

Some mainstream doctors, who restrict health care to use of pharmaceutical products and interventions that conform to the medical model, may attempt to shame caring, educated parents into giving their children every single vaccination recommended by government health officials and medical trade associations. However, this tactic has often met with mixed results. Some parents choose to acquiesce, while other parents dig in their heels and opt to delay recommended vaccinations or stop vaccinating altogether. For the more reluctant or “vaccine hesitant” parents, the preferred methods of persuasion today are to educate them about the dangers of not vaccinating, or to incentivize them by citing insurance premium penalties for not vaccinating, or threatening to exclude them from a medical practice for being “non-compliant.”6

The one thing that hasn’t been widely tried by mainstream medical professionals is listening with an open mind to parents who are hesitant about vaccination and working as partners with them rather than taking an authoritarian adversarial approach. This may be changing. On its list of six recommendations for responding to “vaccine hesitant parents,” the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) first lists listening to “parents’ concerns” and acknowledging them in a “non-confrontational manner.”7

It is unclear whether this recommendation is a serious attempt to be open to parental concerns about vaccination and respectful of the informed consent ethic or merely another tactic to coerce parents,8 but the idea of vaccine providers at least being willing to listen to their patients is a good start toward developing a mutually civil and respectful conversation about vaccination.


12 Responses to "Listening vs Coercion on ‘Vaccine Hesitancy’"

  1. redpill   February 20, 2019 at 6:31 pm

    “listening with an open mind to parents who are hesitant about vaccination and working as partners with them rather than taking an authoritarian adversarial approach”.

    Not going to happen with the majority of Doctors that push vaccines. Why? EGO. The idea that a lay person is trying to tell them about medicine. They think they spent over a decade learning how to practice medicine and no google MD is going to tell me anything. Please note I said how to practice medicine and not how to be a Doctor or a Healer.

    PLUS: Regardless if they agree with the parents and know vaccines cause damage they have to weight money against what’s best for the child. Dr’s practices are given money by the insurance companies when they reach a 100% vaccination rate in their practices. This is one of the reason Doctors were kicking children out of their practices. The family’s vaccine refusal were messing with their averages. Doctors Incentivized by CDC to Increase Vaccination Coverage -

    It is difficult to get a doctor to listen to a parent, when his/her income depends on his/her not “hearing” what the parent is saying.

  2. Stephen   February 21, 2019 at 1:32 am

    Ditto Redpill. Yes, the blue pill would have been the easier path. Keep up the good fight!

  3. Mark   February 21, 2019 at 10:36 am

    I recall the story that Stanley Milgram relates in his famous book, “Obedience to Authority”, where he sees that those people who disobeyed had to have a kind of psychological “break” in themselves where they gave up their allegiance to the perceived authority of the experimenter. This is what I think many of us have done as parents and patients ourselves with modern medicine. We fit in for a number of years until something happened that was just too much for us at which point we “broke” the unwritten, unspoken “contract” of “honoring” the authority of the doctor. For me it was being prescribed one antibiotic after another for Strep infections until, after 12 terrible respiratory infections in 18 months when I was in my 30’s, I decided, “No more antibiotics. I’ll either die of the terrible complications the doctors try to scare me with, or I’ll get over it on my own.” It’s 20 years later and I haven’t died yet, and I stopped getting sick so often. It was after that “break” when I started down the path of improving diet and looking in other places to find “health”. Now I know a cardiologist who has done something similar. After decades of performing heart surgeries, he flew the coop to become a doctor of palliative care. Now he says he voraciously reads all of the alternative/complimentary medical information he can find to try to find the most evidenced based ideas to suggest to his patients. It is happening, and likely won’t be a linear, but an exponential curve after we reach the “tipping point” where people start abandoning authority based medical care en masse. Perhaps it will be part of nothing less than an evolution of consciousness where we give up worshiping “science” as the gold standard of knowledge and begin to access other ways of knowing at levels “above” that of science.

  4. Mary   February 21, 2019 at 11:00 am

    It is not necessarily ego. Sometimes doctors are given $$$$ by the pharmaceuticals for a high percentage of vaccinated patients.

    See any motive there?

  5. Maria   February 21, 2019 at 1:39 pm

    Well said Mark

  6. Maria   February 21, 2019 at 1:40 pm

    Well said!

  7. binid   February 21, 2019 at 2:28 pm

    On the other end of the spectrum is the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) declaration of vaccine hesitancy as “one of the top ‘Ten Threats to Global Health in 2019’, alongside air pollution and climate change;

    WHO is the biggest threat to world health. Vaccination is a eugenics program.

  8. Steve Sanborn   February 21, 2019 at 4:04 pm

    I wonder what reaction a Mother would receive if she asked the nurse or doctor insisting on giving the vaccine if they would be willing to sign this first:
    I,________, assume full responsibility for any and all damage to this child resulting from this vaccine I am administering to him.

  9. Karen   February 21, 2019 at 4:17 pm

    We can promote ourselves as VACCINE RISK AWARE folks. I’m especially enjoying the clarity in the above statements, a reminder of the truth in one of the biggest complaints from the ‘pro-vax’ bunch: ‘The folks who oppose (vax) are educated, intelligent, thoughtful and articulate!’ (How outrageous of us!)

  10. David   February 21, 2019 at 5:41 pm

    Mainstream media banned from reporting case which proved there is no such thing as a measles virus…

  11. Jeanette McKee   February 24, 2019 at 1:34 pm

    I believe if parents were given true “informed consent”, meaning handed all the documentation by Pharma verifying vaccine injuries, like I was back in 1978, no one would want to take the risk with vaccinating. I believe if Pediatricians actually read the inserts provided with the vaccines, they themselves would be more hesitant to shame parents into vaccinating.

    When vaccine injury had reached the point that Pharma was pulling out of the vaccine industry, back in the late 1970’s and 1980’s, the idea was to protect the vaccine manufacturers and doctors, AFTER PROVIDING PARENTS WITH ALL THE POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS, aka “TRUE INFORMED CONSENT”. If parents, after reviewing all the possible side effects, decided to vaccinate, they would have little recourse in vaccine court. “Informed consent” today is merely doctors informing parents how their child and every other child will suffer disease and death if they DON’T vaccinate. I believe that if parents are not handed a copy of all the vaccine inserts demonstrating side effects, including all documented “Vaccine Court” cases, they should be able to take their Pediatrician or whomever their care provider is to court for not providing informed consent. The simple key to this problem is lack of “Informed Consent”. If parents still want to vaccinate after understanding all the possible outcomes, it should be their choice. Just like it should remain my choice to decline.

    I believed in vaccination until the Health Department made me read all the possible side effects back in 1978. I was told back then that all doctors were now required to tell parents this information. I was the only person I knew who decided not to vaccinate. My first two children both suffered high fevers, screaming for hours and experienced seizure activity, which I was told was normal. After reading what the Health Department provided, I knew I should never allow my children to be vaccinated again.

  12. Irena   February 24, 2019 at 10:35 pm

    Redpill, and Mark, and Everyone here – you people are amazing!
    Elsewhere, I see comments that vaccine hesitancy is being anti-science, and that it is OK if some babies die for the “greater good”…
    As a mother of vaccine injured child with two disabilities, I stand with you, and am proud to stand up.


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