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Video: Anti-vaccines Who Learn More About The Pain Of Infectious Diseases Often Change Their Beliefs
Anti-vaccines who learn more about the pain of infectious diseases often change their beliefs
Most of the anti-vaccine students who interviewed people with vaccine-preventable illnesses changed their stance to provocative. Overall, 75% of anti-vaccine students changed their minds about vaccination, with 50% fully moving into the pro-vaccine camp.
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Many people around the world have never seen iron lungs, smallpox scars or measles-induced blindness. Without these physical reminders, some find it difficult to weigh the risks and benefits of vaccination, according to American researchers from Brigham Young University.
An emotional reminder of a threat resonates much more often than dry numbers in tables and graphs. Meeting someone who has had a vaccine-preventable illness leads to a rethinking, a study published in Vaccines found.
“Vaccines are victims of their own success. They are so effective that most people have no experience with vaccine-preventable diseases. We need to re-educate people about the dangers of these diseases,”said lead author Brian Poole, associate professor in the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Biology.
The study participants were college students in Provo, a town in a part of Utah with one of the lowest vaccination coverage in the country. According to a preliminary survey, out of 574 students, 491 were in favor of vaccinations and 83 were against.
The pooled sample was randomly divided into two groups. Each of the members of the first group interviewed a person with a vaccine-preventable disease (for example, polio), and the second (control) group interviewed a person with an autoimmune disease. In addition, some of the students attended courses that included an intensive curriculum on immunity and vaccination.
Both groups asked the same 9 questions to find out details about the type of disease, its impact on life, family and finances. The answers received had a significant impact on many students.
For example, a student interviewing a woman with shingles, an intractable consequence of chickenpox, recalled: “The pain was so severe that she ended up in a pain management clinic where she was injected with steroids into her spine. Pain remedies, however serious, did not relieve her pain. For several months she could not leave the house."
Another student who interviewed an elderly woman suffering from tuberculosis shared, "I don't like the idea of physical suffering, so the rumor that someone was getting sick made the thought of getting sick if I didn't get the vaccine more real." …
The researchers found that nearly 70% of the students interviewing people with vaccine-preventable disease changed their stance to provocative (even those who did not attend vaccination intensives). Overall, 75% of anti-vaccine students changed their minds about vaccination, with 50% fully moving into the pro-vaccine camp.
After the vaccination intensive, all former anti-vaccination students have significantly improved their attitude towards vaccines, with most of them supporting the need for vaccinations.
“If your goal is to influence people's decisions about vaccines, this process works much better than trying to combat anti-vaccine information,” Poole said.