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Doctors Break Down Their Craziest Experiences With Anti-Vaxxers

Knowable

There are some people in the wold who cannot be vaccinated for legitimate medical reasons. People who have certain allergies, sensitivities, genetic conditions, etc. may not be in a position to be safely vaccinated like the vast majority of us. Those are not the people this article is talking about.


Well... they kind of are, but not really. You'll see what I mean.

So Reddit asked a pretty interesting question recently:

Doctors of reddit, have you ever encountered an anti vaxx patient? What happened?


And it turns out medical professionals dealing with anti-vax patients is pretty common. There were a few mentions of people who could not be vaccinated, but what we really found interesting is that there wasn't anywhere near as much "studied under anti-vaxx professor Jenny McCarthy" as we expected.

According to the doctors who responded, most of the anti-vax patients they meet are just scared and misinformed. It may take some time to gain their trust, but they typically come around and are open to whatever is safest once that trust is established.

Then there are the parents who think diseases are God's way of punishing a child for sins committed in a past life. Yeah... not much to be done for that one.

So Reddit asked a pretty interesting question recently:

Doctors of reddit, have you ever encountered an anti vaxx patient? What happened?

And it turns out medical professionals dealing with anti-vax patients is pretty common. There were a few mentions of people who could not be vaccinated, but what we really found interesting is that there wasn't anywhere near as much "studied under anti-vaxx professor Jenny McCarthy" as we expected.

According to the doctors who responded, most of the anti-vax patients they meet are just scared and misinformed. It may take some time to gain their trust, but they typically come around and are open to whatever is safest once that trust is established.

Then there are the parents who think diseases are God's way of punishing a child for sins committed in a past life. Yeah... not much to be done for that one.

Uninformed V True Anti-Vax

Many times. It often depends on the situation, if I have to do something to help the child that is unrelated to vaccines, I usually won't say much because I need to maintain a working relationship to help the child. It's also important to separate people who might be vaccine hesitant due to hearing or ready something, they are often willing to listen. True anti-vaxxers don't want to hear anything that contradicts them.

If I get an opportunity to talk to them more about vaccines I do so very carefully. Simply telling an anti-vaxxer the facts about vaccines doesn't work, so you have to move slow and ask them what their concerns are and try to answer them thoroughly.

99% of the time it doesn't work, so I fully document their refusal and then move on to the next patient. I just don't have time to sit and talk to someone for an hour about something they are ignorant about and are refusing to acknowledge.

The worst one recently was having to tell some parents that their 14 year old died from meningitis. They had declined the vaccine at school 3 months earlier.

- TerrificMoose

Still Believes

Surprisingly the only time it was an issue was when I was a medical student, an Anti-vaxx mother refused the Vitamin K injection for her newborn due to anti vaxx propaganda.

Newborn had an intracerebral haemorrhage and is now a vegetable for life. Completely avoidable if the mother had accepted the Vit K injection.

Worst part for me was she didn't accept that it was preventable and still firmly believes she made the right call by refusing the Vit K.

- DrCocktopusMD

Playing The Long Game

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I've had several patients who didn't vaccinate any of their kids. While many practices turn these people away, I consider it an opportunity to respect their wishes and gain their trust, but on every visit I ask them to compare data and have an open conversation about what they know. I do this in as non-confrontational and as genuine and helpful a way as possible. I've converted a number of anti-vaxxers in this way, while turning them away likely would never have resulted in the same outcome.

- TerranceMightingale

Forging Records

My father is a pediatrician in California, where you can't send your child to school if they're not vaccinated.

During a physical, my father asked the mother of two children when the last time the children got vaccinated. She answers " I don't believe in vaccination. It causes autism." She then proceeded to ask him to forge the vaccination records.

Long story short, he presented the facts declaring her claim to be a myth, she cursed him out, and then he responds with "Ma'am, you're an idiot. Now get out of my office."

The family moved to Nevada so the children could go to school unvaccinated.

- sonofthedevil666

Ye Olde Photos

Keep the talk of whether or not the vaccines themselves are dangerous to a minimum; presenting facts to someone coming in with an argument based largely on emotion is a losing effort.

Instead, focus on the negative outcomes of actually contracting the diseases vaccines are designed to prevent (eg, immunosuppression, SSPE, ADEM, encephalitis, etc. with measles). Old pictures of little children suffering from the disease can put an exclamation point on the discussion, too, and help redirect parents' focus to the real source of potential harm for their children.

- Beboptiger

Invested But Misguided

As a pediatrician, this is my bread and butter. In all honesty, most of the anti-vaxx parents are that way because they have done some research and want to protect their kids.

Just because they don't have the training or inclination to separate real science from fake science isn't their fault.

It's my job as their pediatrician to make sure they know we both want the same thing, their child's health and safety. Once you develop a trusting relationship I've found a good 90+ percent of my anti-vaxxers will convert. I'd much rather have invested but misguided parents than parents that don't give a sh!t about their kids.

- K_mon2244

Told You So

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Yeah they happen

It's disappointing, but you ask a few questions, see what stage they're at (disinterested, defensive, paranoid, sheeple) give a bit of information and move on: If your mums group and 20 minutes of googling makes you that confident if your decision making so be it.

What does make me feel righteous is when I get to say "This happened because your kid was not vaccinated" and yes that might sound sad or evil but it's true, and deep down no matter what they say they know it's true - and the vast majority ensure their other kids are vaccinated.

- raftsa

Past Life Punishments

I did, but the scenario was so bad that I didn't have the mental energy to get angry at the parents.

Their 12 year old daughter presented with diphtheria, which doesn't exist anymore in my region thanks to a National Immunization Schedule. Their explanation for not vaccinating her was simple.

"Vaccines are drugs given to make people infertile to stop population explosion."

I couldn't explain to them in a way they would accept. I knew things were hopeless when they started saying God was punishing their child for doing something wrong in her previous life. Thankfully, the child could be saved - this time.

- abhinadahv

Disadvantaged

I'm a medical professional working in a very disadvantaged community. We deal with anti vaxxers constantly. In my workplace they are typically anti-vax for some religious reason or "just because."

I'm never happy about it but it only really upsets me when a parent denies vaccines for their child or when the IV drug users and addicts refuse them. It's like "Sir you inject crazy dangerous sht into yourself every day. What's a vaccine gonna do?"

- DrBarnowl

Very In Depth

My brother is a doctor. He's told me and my family that when he encounters patients like these, he sits them down and goes very in-depth as to the possible dangers of remaining anti-vaxx or raising their children anti-vaxx. He says that in a fair amount of cases, this works very well and they decide to go ahead with vaccinations. A lot of the cases he sees that involve anti-vaxxers are people who are just scared and misinformed.

However, there are the occasional patients who absolutely believe they're right. Some of these are helpless, and he definitely feels exasperated by them, but he's got a job to do. As for some, the trick is done by naming and explaining many of the terrible diseases/consequences of remaining anti-vaxx, and sometimes there are success stories :)

I can only imagine how frustrating it would be, though. I definitely look up to him as I am seeking to enter the healthcare professions in the future as well.

- loveg2pens

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