Rebellion against vaccines isn’t new, it has been around since the 19th century after Edward Jenner created a vaccine for the smallpox virus. Anti-vaxxers during this time believed that mandatory vaccine laws impinged on certain amendment rights, such as freedom of speech.
The fear of a link between vaccines and autism has created a major public health issue. An evidence-based meta-analysis of case-control and cohort studies found that the components in vaccines (both thimerosal and mercury) or obtaining multiple vaccines at once (i.e MMR vaccine) is not associated with the development of autism spectrum disorder.
Nurse Practitioner Dani Stringer describes her story of leaving behind vaccine hesitancy and forging ahead as an advocate for immunizations. She explores a perspective that focuses on tackling the anti-vaccine movement by communicating with kindness.
The World Health Organization included vaccine hesitancy on the list of threats to global health in 2019. Vaccine hesitancy is a complex matter, with reasons for not vaccinating ranging from accessibility to personal belief. While the reasons may vary, the global effect of not vaccinating has created significant issues.
Christopher A. Swingle, DO discusses the importance of understanding each anti-vaxxer on an individual level. Getting to know the fears, concerns, and beliefs is what will help establish a trusting relationship between the provider and patient. It will allow the provider to be a better communicator of facts and evidence-based research on vaccines.