Sunday , November 17 2019
Home / zimbabwe / 4 ways to talk with a sceptic vaccine

4 ways to talk with a sceptic vaccine



Your neighbor is telling you about his new baby. He feels nervous about vaccinating, and says he's considering delaying Lucy's vaccines.

Your mother's group is chatting about vaccines. One mother tells Jimmy's group not to be vaccinated, and she's using the Immune-Strengthening Diet instead.

In a Facebook parenting group, someone comments we should not trust pharmaceutical companies because they are covering up studies showing vaccines cause autism.

Debating anti-vaccination messages on social media can backfire.

123RF

Debating anti-vaccination messages on social media can backfire.

These and similar scenarios may sound familiar. So what do you do when you are faced with someone who questions vaccination? Do you try to convince them to vaccinate? Do you ignore them? Or might something else work?

READ MORE:
* The underground network of Kiwis who fight anti-vaxx propaganda
* Threats, scaremongering, not the answer to higher vaccination rates
* Measles outbreak: How would 'No Jab, No Pay' work in New Zealand?
* Babies who travel may need a measly shot at six months, not 12

Talking about vaccination can be really difficult. Vaccination touches on strong values, such as child protection, social responsibility, and respect for science.

STUFF

There's a string of myths about vaccinations online. So we're debunking them.

So, if you are a vaccination supporter, you may feel perplexed, even angry, when people do not vaccinate their children. If you are a parent who has had minor worries and vaccinated your child, it can be galling when another parent refuses vaccination, putting others at risk.

But talking about vaccination can also present pitfalls. Attempting to convince someone with strong views that they are wrong can strengthen their commitment to their position.

Our work, with a team of researchers, clinicians, and the National Center for Immunization Research and Surveillance, shows the best way to respond depending on the situation. Your approach will be very different to a person who has a negative view on vaccination, compared to someone who is cautious. How you respond also depends on what is most important in your relationship.

HERE ARE SOME OPTIONS

1. Don't go there

This approach is handy if you encounter a person with fixed beliefs. They may say, "I've done my research."

Your automatic response may be counter to their claims, saying, "The science is clear. Vaccinate your kids."

But if the relationship with this person doesn't matter to you, or their emphatic pronouncements are unlikely to do harm, then little is gained by engaging. People with fixed beliefs don't budge much.

You may encounter active opposition to vaccination on social media. A small number of anti-vaccination activists colonize online forums.

So avoid protracted conversations. Facebook's algorithm privileges posts with high engagement, so your interactions may bring them even more attention. Energized by the response, anti-vaccination activists may coordinate and bomb you or your organization.

This is what happened to the US clinic Kids Plus Pediatrics in Pittsburgh. The clinic eventually produced a guidebook on how to handle anti-vaccination attacks.

Increasing the visibility of anti-vaccination posts may have other drawbacks. Onlookers may come to see vaccination as riskier, and vaccine refusal as more popular than it really is (in reality, only about 2 per cent of Australian parents decide not to give their children some or all of the vaccines).

But countering anti-vaccine views can also bring benefits: it can reduce these negative effects, and affirm vaccination for sensitive onlookers or "fence-sitters".

So which option is best? If this person's posts are getting exposed anyway or they are influential, then you may decide that responding is worth the risk. Just keep any interactions brief, factual and polite. Otherwise, don't go there.

2. Agree to disagree

Agreeing to disagree may be an option when you are with friends and family who hold firm views and whose relationship is important to you.

There could be a family get-together with your cousin who steadfastly rejects vaccination and the topic comes up in conversation. Family members start debating it. With strong views on either side, this could be explosive. Here you could say, "This is a topic we all have strong opinions about. We could only argue, but I propose that we leave this one alone."

Discussing vaccination would not change your cousin's mind. Her views are deeply held. Don't let arguments get in the way of these relationships.

3. Affirm vaccination and move on

This option can be useful when you want to avoid conflict, but also advocate for vaccination.

Parent group situations might warrant this approach. For example, a couple at your antenatal class declare their plan to delay vaccination. While you may feel annoyed, try to focus on a strategic goal: showing other parents it's not a norm to delay vaccination.

You could say, "We're planning to vaccinate our baby. We think it's really important." While this probably won't persuade the couple, it may reduce their influence on others.

4. Listen, affirm and recommend

This approach may be appropriate when you are with family and friends who are hesitant about vaccinating. For example, your daughter and son-in-law are hesitant about vaccinating their child – your grandchild.

These relationships may be important to you, and you probably want to encourage them to vaccinate.

We and others recommend several steps:

Understand people's concerns and motivations

Listen to what people are saying and asking clarifying questions. This helps you better understand their reasons. Avoid the temptation to jump in, and keep a check on your emotions.

Affirm them as parents

This means acknowledging their concerns, as well as their care as parents. A person who feels respected is more likely to listen to your viewpoint. It's how we all like to be treated. You could say, "I can see you're trying to do your best."

Offer to share information

Sharing information means providing factual information relevant to that person, explaining your view, and why you believe it. Use quality information, such as the World Health Organization's Vaccine Safety Net portal. Personalize it: "I believe vaccination is important because…"

Close with a plan

This creates opportunities for future conversations. Some parents review their decisions, such as during a localized outbreak or when the child is older. It is also good to have an exit strategy because vaccination discussions can go on and on. You might ask, "Can we talk about this again some time?"

Decide how you want to spend your energy

Responding to people who have questions about vaccination can be difficult. So be judicious about where you spend your energy.

If you really want to make a difference, avoid temptation to reflexively correct what you believe is wrong and get embroiled in lengthy vaccination debates or scientific ping pong games.

Jump in without thinking, and you risk wasting your time, affecting relationships with family and friends, or even inadvertently amplifying anti-vaccine views. Instead, evaluate the person's position on the vaccination, your goals and what is most important in your relationship.

Jump in without thinking, and you risk wasting your time, affecting relationships with family and friends, or even inadvertently amplifying anti-vaccine views. Instead, evaluate the person's position on the vaccination, your goals and what is most important in your relationship.

Information for parents who have questions about immunization is available here.

Julie Leask is a professor at the University of Sydney and Maryke Steffens is a PhD candidate at Macquarie University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article. The Conversation


Source link