Friday, February 3, 2012

The head and the heart

I just discovered Missouri Medicine - an award winning publication from the Missouri Medicine Association. As a person with some science background but no medical training I find their articles pitched at just the right level.

There's a nice article in the current issue advising doctors how to respond to parents fears of vaccinations.

We in the medical community must acknowledge that, for parents, the idea of allowing their child to be
injected with an agent that might cause harm and will definitely cause pain is, at the very least, unsettling to even the most educated, most rational parent. The genius of the anti-vaccine forces is that they are passionately empathetic toward parents who want only to protect their kids – and they are not shy about the sacrifices that they have personally made in standing up to uncaring physicians and greedy pharmaceutical companies. And how do we respond? Often with a well reasoned, evidence-based argument that dismisses vaccination concerns as unfounded and uninformed.

If we do express emotion about vaccination, it often comes across as either as anger at parents who just do not care enough to do what is best for their children or annoyance on our part for having to waste our time with such nonsense.

The science is clearly, unequivocally, powerfully on our side when it comes to the safety and effectiveness of vaccination, and we must share this information which is at the core of our efforts to prevent disease in children. But we have to remember that parents make decisions about their kids, not from the head, but from the heart.

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