With recent outbreaks of measles and pertussis in this country, vaccines are a big topic of conversation—one that’s been going on for months, with no signs of abating. What’s refreshing is the amount of lucid information now circulating through extremely popular channels. Jimmy Kimmel and Conan O’Brien have taken a pro-vaccination stance through humor. The CDC and many state health boards have become more active in their support of vaccines and the importance of vaccination. And most recently, The New Yorker has entered the fray.
In his recent piece called “Why Doctors Give in on Vaccines,” Michael Specter takes the debate a step further, pointing out that physicians are complicit in our nation’s falling vaccination rates and the corresponding rise in the numbers of preventable diseases.
We have come a long way since the time when police and public health officials forced vaccination at gunpoint. But it is troubling that two thirds of physicians at least occasionally acquiesce to a parent’s irrational request to delay or spread out childhood vaccinations—physicians who are very much aware of the individual and population dangers of doing so.
The wealth of vaccine information now available online can be a great resource—but it can also be confusing and overwhelming. And it doesn’t absolve healthcare workers of their responsibility to educate patients and parents and actively support vaccination. The more misinformation that circulates, the more trained individuals we need to be the voices of reason. Which presents a conundrum. As more and more individuals enter the US healthcare system, fewer primary care physicians and nurses are available to spend quality time with patients for these types of vaccine re-education chats.
Where does all of this leave us? Perhaps its time for healthcare marketers and advertisers to do more to help pediatricians and primary care physicians take a strong stance on vaccines. Check out Specter’s New Yorker article and see what you think.