Friday, December 12, 2014

What's the best way to convince flu vaccine skeptics?

Debunking myths about the flu vaccine may not be the best way to get vaccine skeptics to get their flu shots.

According to a recent study, 43% of Americans believe that the flu vaccine can actually cause influenza. When offered corrective information that the flu vaccine cannot give them the flu, respondents were less likely to report believing in this misperception, but their willingness to get the flu vaccine did not change. Researchers believe that when skeptics hear corrective information, any people with fears about potential side effects bring other concerns to mind and actually reduce their intention to vaccinate. Similarly, information on the dangers of influenza had no effect on the respondents' beliefs about vaccine safety or their intention to get vaccinated.

In all, the medical community must find an alternative way to effectively promote immunization. Simply addressing unfounded information does not appear to be an effective way to rally public opinion.

-Nick Simon

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