Doctors Reveal How They Handle Anti-Vaxxers

Doctors Reveal How They Handle Anti-Vaxxers

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To vaccinate or to not? THAT... is the question. One of the ultimate questions. How much research is enough? Are the vaccines more detrimental than preventative? However MANY of the medical professional population is in solidarity. So what is the war of doctor -vs- parent?

Redditor _quibgobbler asked the docs of Reddit... _Doctors of reddit, how do you respond when you meet an anti-vaxxer?

WHAT DO YOU TELL PARENTS?

I'm an emergency physician. The usual scenario in the emergency department is an unvaccinated child with an infection or a fever and anti-vaccine parents.

What I do is I take good care of the child. I explain things to the parents as I go along including talking about infections that I might be worried about or need to test for or treat. I establish a good relationship with the child and with the parents. Near the end of the encounter I open a conversation about vaccines. Usually I say something like 'Some of the illness' we needed to think about today are preventable by vaccines. I can tell that you are caring parents who don't want your child to get sick. Help me understand what it is about vaccines that has you so worried?'

Sometimes this opens a door, sometimes it doesn't. I think approaching it from the perspective of trying to understand their view is important. We don't do catch up vaccines in the emergency department but if the parents are open to it I send a letter about our visit to their Family Doctor or refer them to the vaccine clinic (which has a special pathway for anti-vaccine parents and is willing to use modified schedules and work with a family over time to discuss and consider the issue).

Finger waving and anger are not productive. They entrench the 'us vs. them' position of people who are not participating in standard health care. As a doctor I see whoever comes through the door, meet them where they are at and try to help improve their situations. Sometimes this means saving a life and sometimes this means having an important discussion.

For those parents who are entrenched in their anti-vaccine position and angry at all healthcare as a result and looking for a conflict I work on getting agreement that we are all invested in the idea of making sure that their child is okay, because a shared expression of caring is the foundation on which future conversations can be built.

I'M NUMB...

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I'm an anesthesiologist in Southern California and I meet Peds patients who aren't fully vaccinated mire often than I'd like. I usually mention some combo of the following:

I start with the fact that as an anesthesiologist, vaccinations have no effect at all on my compensation, and that I vaccinated my own kid.

I then mention the evidence. This usually doesn't help at all.

Then, and most importantly I offer that, for the sake of argument, let's assume that vaccines do cause autism in a small fraction of kids (I believe this is in-line with what the anti-vaccers think). I tell them that I would still have my kid vaccinated due to the consequences of leaving kids unprotected.

Finally I finish with media: I have pictures and video on my phone of: smallpox, whooping cough, rubella etc. and a graph of childhood survival from 1800-2015. I end with a picture of a 2 year-old I treated in the pediatric ICU who almost died of a measles infection (with family permission of course). She was attached to all kinds of lines and tubes.

I've also been asked if anesthesia medications are gluten-free, so yeah..

DO YOU HEAR US?

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The doctors I work with (geneticists) refuse to see patients that are unvaccinated. It's incredibly unsafe to have unvaccinated children around newborns and otherwise immunocompromised individuals. And they're not afraid to sternly lecture any parents who are anti-vax.

HIM OR ME?

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My son's pediatrician said he'll drop people as patients if they don't vaccinate.

THAT'S MORBID...

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i think House's response is the best they make teeny tiney coffins too.

THE LAW IS THE LAW...

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Not a doctor, but a nurse. We don't allow staff or patients into our facility that have not been vaccinated. We are mandated to get a yearly flu vaccine as well. So I don't personally come in contact with them often. If I do I try to have a respectful intelligent conversation with them. However, if they start ranting out monkey fetus cells, mercury, and all other manner of BS being inside the vaccine then I exit the conversation.

TOO MUCH INFO...

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So when my son was still shiny and new we had a pediatrician appointment the week before he was scheduled to be vaccinated. Me being an educated fellow (I don't even need to read the instructions on the Mac and cheese box, thank you) I asked her about the anti-fax movement and is there any reality in what they're saying.

"No. No there isn't."

That was enough for me. Apparently she had dealt with quite a few of them. They honestly believed that that one website they briefly skimmed held more information about vaccines than the former OB/GYN turned Pediatrician.

GUILT IS TOO POWERFUL...

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First, a mental facepalm, accompanied by 7 words in my mind (what the f%&k is wrong with you). Then I proceed to explain why it is important, and refute all the myths they've heard. At the end, if I don't convince the parents with doing what's best for their kid, I tell them to at least do it for the kids with leukemia or other diseases that will be killed by their kid if he doesn't get vaccinated. I work the sense of guilt in them, too.

TAKE A STAND...

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Was on a date with a fellow I quite fancied. Had to bite my tongue so hard in order to not come off as a stereotypical arrogant (young) doctor when he asked what my stance on vaccination is.

After making "my stance" clear in the most humble way I could, he started arguing. I just told him to first explain to me exactly what a vaccine is. He switched topic pretty fast.

NO SHAME BABIES...

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i am the manager at a healthcare clinic. we do see antivax patients. we educate them to the best of our abilities. i do think the shame culture around vaccination is very counter-productive. people should ask what is in any drug they take and make informed decisions. by creating a shame cycle around vaccination people are embarrassed to ask questions and then left with no where to turn but people like Jenny Mccarthy.

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