How to Effectively Change the Mind of Vaccine Opposers

Vaccines have faced a strong criticism in the past. But the sad part is that even in today’s modern age, a thick cloud of negative commentary surrounds them. People criticize vaccines for various reasons. Some due to religious restrictions, some think they are unsafe, and some simply because of busy lives. People from the last category aren’t really against vaccines. They simply find it difficult to keep up with vaccination schedules which are typically spread across various months/years. A simple solution for these parents is to download a vaccine reminder app. This will make life a lot easier for them as remembering vaccine dates won’t be an issue anymore – the app will do the job for them.

The other two, however, may require a bit of convincing. But the good news is that there are some promising strategies to talk to anti-vaxxers. Here we will mention some of the most useful ones.

Not All Who Don’tVaccinate Are Anti-Vaxxers

The term ‘anti-vaxxers’ is often taken out of context, thinking that everyone who doesn’t vaccinate is against it. But the truth is far from it. in reality, these people are separated into two different types: anti-vaxxers and vaccine-hesitant. Anti-vaxxers are firm in their belief and convincing them can be hard. But the vaccine-hesitant do seem to change their minds. You can reduce their fear of using facts and studies done on vaccine benefits.

Confirmation Bias

Doubts around vaccine safety have existed for decades, but the major rise in them is due to a recent study that connected autism to MMR vaccine. Although the study had later been thoroughly debunked, it was already too late. The idea has taken hold and has not been entirely gotten rid of as of now. That’s mainly because our brain is awful at processing complex information. Instead, it utilizes confirmation bias – shortcuts to perceive information.

Confirmation bias is the main reason behind vaccine hesitancy. It is the tendency to only accept information which confirms our preexisting beliefs and discards everything else that contradicts it. Causal illusions are a good example of it. They encourage us to see things/signs where there are none, like associating autism symptoms to MMR shots which both occur at the same age.

Use Scientific Facts

A common claim from anti-vaxxers is that their doctor couldn’t provide them with a satisfying answer. Sometimes, parents discuss their hesitancy around vaccines with the doctor. But instead of giving a detailed answer, all doctors say is “Nothing is wrong with vaccines. They’re fine.” Needless to say, this doesn’t change their mind.

Many parents who refuse to vaccinate children share the same story. They don’t expect a simple “vaccines are alright.” What they truly need is a better scientific evidence.

Then again, science can be distorted too. There are many techniques anti-vaxxers use to deny the safety of vaccines. One is out of this world expectations, such as demanding 100 percent safety – nothing is ever 100 percent safe.

They also cherry pick certain things out of the studies without putting them into the context to prove their false assumptions. And they prefer their personal opinion on the authenticity of the research.

So, when faced with distorted facts, calling them out can be helpful. Bringing up scientifically proven facts can also be of great help.

Make It Necessary ToUse Vaccines

After you’ve presented the evidence, if parents are still confused, the best response is to use the language that assumes patients must need vaccination instead of treating it as optional.

Another way is to make it harder for parents to refuse vaccinations. Countries that do so have much fewer cases of parent opt-out than the ones that don’t.

Explain HowVaccinations Work

Explaining how vaccinations work adds some extra value. It increases people’s willingness to vaccinate. If you can effectively explain individual as well as social benefits, more people will vaccinate their kids without any concerns.

An interesting technique is to emphasize on potential risks of the diseases, instead of explaining the safety of vaccines. Parents who are shown pictures of children suffering from vaccine-preventable diseases are more inclined toward immunizations than parents who are told that vaccines are safe.

Offering information on vaccine safety, claiming that they don’t cause autism, stories about kids that almost died of a vaccine-preventable disease; none had as much impact on parents as offering pictorial evidence about the harms of diseases. The pictures of children suffering from a serious infection actually increased their beliefs in the vaccines – mainly because it put them in a fearful state of mind.

Introduce to Them Technology

Plenty of parents refuse to vaccinate their kids simply because their lives are ‘busy’. They struggle to follow appointments and often forget about vaccination dates.

This is really not an excuse as there isenough technology available that will take care of vaccination schedules. Youcan simply suggest such parents download a medication reminder app that will notify them on vaccination dates. It will make theirlives a lot easier.

Telling Personal Storiesof Previously Infected Patients

Many healthcare professionals think of this idea as controversial. After all, fighting anecdote with anecdote does no good does it? And even if it does, doctors shouldn’t be playing the role of scaring people into action.

But our view on it is slightly different.

Let’s ask a simple question: what is the main job of the doctor, to inform people or to persuade them?

Usually, it’s a mix of both.

Healthcare specialists want to inform people as much as they want to persuade them. And there’s no better way of changing the patient’s mind than telling stories of patients in a way which makes complete sense to them. It’s all about finding the right balance between stories and stats.

So, these are sometechniques through which you can convert anti-vaxxers into pro-vaxxers. Also,if someone is finding it difficult to follow vaccine schedules, simply suggestthem to use a pill reminder app andthis won’t be an issue anymore.

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