Monday, March 10, 2014

Parents not bluffed by scare stories

A published Pediatrics study attempted to figure out what persuades parents to vaccinate kids:
METHODS: ... Parents were randomly assigned to receive 1 of 4 interventions: (1) information explaining the lack of evidence that MMR causes autism from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; (2) textual information about the dangers of the diseases prevented by MMR from the Vaccine Information Statement; (3) images of children who have diseases prevented by the MMR vaccine; (4) a dramatic narrative about an infant who almost died of measles from a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention fact sheet; or to a control group.

RESULTS: None of the interventions increased parental intent to vaccinate a future child.
We should be encouraged by consumers not being fooled by unscientific and anecdotal pressure tactics.

A better experiment might have been to present parents with actual evidence that the benefits of vaccination exceeds the risks, or with recommendations by an open and neutral panel of experts. But the pediatricians are unable or unwilling to do that. (A CDC panel does recommend the vaccines, but it is neither open nor neutral. It has secret meetings and it is controlled by vaccine industry lobbyists.)

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