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Medical Professionals Reveal How They've Successfully Changed An Anti-Vaxxer's Mind

To Vaxx or not to Vaxx? That is the question....

The question of whether or not to vaccinate your children, or any of us for that matter, has been a hot button topic for quite some time. This is a fiercely debated issue. Many firmly believe it is imperative that we vaccinate for the greater good of humanity as a whole.

Major disease have been eradicated due to vaccinating, but at what risk? Those on the opposite end of this quarry are in passionate belief that these vaccines do more harm the long run. So that leaves us with the advice of medical professionals. Apparently people can be swayed when enough science is presented to them.

Redditor u/happysquidsrus wanted to see what the latest consensus on vaccinating was by asking.... [Serious] Medical professionals of Reddit, have you ever successfully changed an anti-vaxxer's mind? How?


Debunk Away....

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Yes. I did it slowly and in a stepwise process. It helped that they were educated and had a degree in the sciences.

  1. I empathized with her. I agreed that Big Pharma sometimes does sh!tty things and creates medications that don't really help people. This helped her feel more comfortable with the idea that I wasn't mocking her beliefs and her passions and I wasn't accusing her of being stupid.
  2. I explained the complexity of medications: how side effects are inevitable and all drugs carry risk, even vaccinations. Medicine is not magic. It's just science done with the best tools available and sometimes it can be crude.
  3. I then showed her raw numbers and statistics from multiple sources, showing how much vaccines have helped save tens of millions of lives.
  4. We talked about the original study and how it was rejected and debunked. She didn't know that.

By the end she wasn't entirely convinced that vaccines are harmless... but she was fairly convinced that they didn't cause autism. PhillipLlerenas

The Lecture. 

I did once. Saw a 8-mo old in the ER with a chronic cough. Spent a while with Mom talking about what pertussis actually looks like and why there is a vaccine for it. She agreed to get her child vaccinated at the end of the talk.

I listened to a great lecture once where the speaker said that people aren't afraid of the diseases anymore because they don't see them. They see autism, and that's concrete. They can't describe tetanus or pertussis, so they don't fear them. That's why they refuse vaccines. Good food for thought. geriatric_gymnast

You'll Survive. 

I pointed out to a co-worker who was on the fence that the only reason her kid had such a good chance of surviving childhood in the first place was that generations of parents before her assumed the risks associated with far less developed vaccines. I suggested that she owed them all a great debt, and that she should really consider paying it forward. VivaNOLA

Think Forward. 

Yes. It takes time. I have been in practice about 20 years now so I have built up a lot of trust with my patients. Changing a mind on something like this usually takes years. I start with the usual... listen to their fears, explain how vaccines actually work and how they are made, go over safety data. This is just the start for most people. Many will come back for more visits and ask more questions.

Eventually I always get around to explaining the idea of protecting yourself/family from impurities. Sanctity/Impurity is one of our human moral foundations so I try to take advantage of that (see moral foundations theory by Jonathan Haidt). In the case of vaccines, the anti-vaxxers have it backwards. You have to slowly help them understand that vaccines are not some foreign dangerous substance being injection into the body (which is how they view it and why they are so horrified by the idea of vaccines). They have to learn of the dangers in the environment and develop an appropriate fear of them, then then can see the vaccine as a way protect the body from the many foreign dangerous substances in the environment. outsideohio

Cured!

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My aunt actually had polio. She made a full recovery but she had to relearn how to walk. She absolutely loses her mind when people talk about not vaccinating kids. Deusbob

Stray from the Cult... 

I'm not a medical professional, but this is according to me pretty spot on:

Most people who join these anti-intellectual movements and who believe in conspiracy theories are thought to have a very bad world view, that governments and people with power enjoy messing with everyone else solely for profits. They believe in their own reasoning so much that you can disprove them with science time and time again, yet they will explain it all away in a way that is logical for them.

It's comparable to being in a cult, they are so submersed in their way of thinking because they do their 'research' almost every moment they have for themselves and they have a hard time to break trough this veil of false information.

Broken Trust....

If they could disconnect from their own reality for a few months by not reading, researching or even talking with people, just anything related to these matters, and just focus on themselves for a while and doing what makes them happy, they have a chance to break out.

But even if they do so, the world that they've thought to be true shatters and this is a very hard realization to cope with.

People treat them like idiots, dumba**es and what not, but in reality, you ought to have sympathy for them. What happened in their lives that caused them to have such a broken view on the world? And what can we do as a society to help people get out of this state of mind, without completely obliterating their own self-esteem? Neferashu

Some sad encounters I had were parents who had not vaccinated their children when they were babies, but now the parents needed government assistance (and to get child care or other funding in Australia your children must be vaccinated) and so they decided money was a good enough incentive to give up their antivaxxing beliefs.

This in itself isn't the saddest part, it was then being responsible for having to vaccinate children with multiple injections at multiple visits at an age where they understood pain enough to create a negative association with doctors and nurses and vaccinations. ChanandlerBong-25

Self Truth...

You cannot reason people out of positions they didn't reason themselves into. hiddenuse

I'd say there are exceptions to this. I was raised anti-vaccination, I believed what I had been raised to believe and was proud that I was healthy despite.

Exposure to new (to me) information reasoned me out of my old beliefs. MrReyneCloud

Just the Facts....

My father is an MD has been practicing for the past two+ decades. I've asked him his opinion antivaxx/plague enthusiasts and drug addicts and severely overweight (like one patient he had recently was BMI 110+ and weighed over 700lbs) because it's just so interesting. He told me throughout the years he offers explanations that that patient has the mental capacity to understand at the time he sees them, explains why he is telling them to do this or that and what could be likely to or will happen if they don't follow his treatment plan. According to him, the people that want to change once they hear a person who has been in the medical field will try to and the ones who won't, he will see soon. Traummich

It's all in the Prepping!

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I was Anti-flu shot.

Until I was in the ER with the Flu and the doc told my dumb butt that even if the shot didn't match the "strain" it still prepped your body way better. Elpacoverde

REDDIT

BAM!!!! 

I do private duty nursing. I convinced a family to vaccinate their toddler.

  1. I understand you're worried because your daughter has a history of a compromised immune system. That is a good and valid worry to have.
  2. the pediatrician is saying it's ok to have her vaccinated now.
  3. Were having a measles outbreak, which would kill her.
  4. your daughter won't get autism. If she didn't get autism from [the thing they wrongly blame her disability on], then she definitely won't get it from something as simple as a vaccine. It took a heavy hitter to give her a bad reaction- this is kids play for her strength and fortitude!

Bam. Shots done. MistCongeniality

That's It and That's All! 

Wasn't me in particular but, we had a dad bring his two year old son into emergency three times in one week because he was having trouble breathing. I saw them their first and third visit. After the third visit dad says "that's it I don't care what your mom says we getting you vaccinated." Poor little guy was only two and got whooping. boarqing

The Un-informed Professional! 

I had my son at 17 years old he ended up having autism. My doctor told me it could be from his first set of immunizations. I was young and believed her since you know .... she was a doctor. I'm embarrassed to say I was an anti-vaxxer till I decided to do my own research and couldn't find a reliable article of evidence to prove that immunizations caused autism in my son. I believe it was genetics as autism runs in my family. I'm actually pissed that a doctor made such an impression on me that I looked like a fool for 15 years! (I'm 33 now and am NOT an anti-vaxxer any longer 😂) fashionMommyof3

I took care of a patient who is super conspiracy theory.

I asked him why we would bother putting microchips in the flu vaccines when we already know what he's doing based off his Facebook, Instagram, and other various social networking accounts for his conspiracy theories. I was able to tell him what he had for lunch within 30 seconds on my work computer by Googling for his conspiracy theory account.

" well, shit. I guess that does make sense. Go ahead and start me up fresh."

Just Google...

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I took care of a patient who is super conspiracy theory.

I asked him why we would bother putting microchips in the flu vaccines when we already know what he's doing based off his Facebook, Instagram, and other various social networking accounts for his conspiracy theories. I was able to tell him what he had for lunch within 30 seconds on my work computer by Googling for his conspiracy theory account.

"well, damn. I guess that does make sense. Go ahead and start me up fresh." DaveBeard

Zero Percent! 

I have never seen a true anti-vaxxer in the sense it is used today (anti MMR, Tdap, etc) but I have seen many people who did not understand how the yearly flu vaccine worked. Most of them were people who had gotten the vaccine in the past and still got the flu, thinking the vaccine gave them the flu. I took the time to educate them about the vaccine and the 0% chance of getting the flu from the vaccine. Once they understood they could possibly get the flu even if vaccinated, but that the chances were much lower, most would get the vaccine. cee_gee_ess3000

Common Ground....

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Medical student in the United States here. It all depends on where they fall on the anti-vaccination spectrum. If a patient or parent is misinformed but willing to discuss, it's not too difficult to have an open dialogue and try to ease their concerns about vaccination. If they're a little more firm in their position, it's much more difficult to provide recommendations. Ultimately, it comes down to respecting the patient and earning their trust rather than spewing facts at them. I've had the most success when I provide personal anecdotes. For instance, my father required a bone marrow transplant a number of years ago and was unable to receive any vaccines afterwards due to his weakened immune system. If he came into contact with an unvaccinated individual that carried a disease that we prevent with vaccines, he could have contracted the disease. I was able to connect with an anti-vax parent in a similar situation and convince her to get her kids vaccinated. It's rare to have success but it does happen, especially when you have the time to foster a relationship built on mutual respect.

For instance, my father required a bone marrow transplant a number of years ago and was unable to receive any vaccines afterwards due to his weakened immune system. If he came into contact with an unvaccinated individual that carried a disease that we prevent with vaccines, he could have contracted the disease. I was able to connect with an anti-vax parent in a similar situation and convince her to get her kids vaccinated. It's rare to have success but it does happen, especially when you have the time to foster a relationship built on mutual respect. swags789

ost Limbs.....

When I was a medical student, I met a pediatrician who was missing most of her fingers and toes. She had gotten the flu when she was younger, and had gotten so septic that her body shut down blood flow to her extremities, and her fingers and toes died and had to be surgically removed. She said that after sharing that story, most of her anti-vaxxers change their mind. wakawakathealpaca

Pre-existing conditions... 

I was able to once. This woman was anti-vax because her daughter had gotten reactions from the vaccines on more than one occasion and that led her to believe that all vaccines were bad. As it turns out, the girl had a rare condition that caused her to react badly to vaccines. I was able to explain to the mother that rather than trying to remove vaccines, she should be advocating for them as her daughter falls under the group that requires herd immunity. I told her that her daughter would be exempt from vaccines due to medical necessity and that she would now depend on the protection of the vaccinated. The mom was able to understand my points and is now on the pro-vax side. awkward_brownie

A Valid Coaxing... 

I'm a Mental Health Nurse, Every flu season I teach a class to my clients on vaccines, most of my clients have a diagnosis of schizophrenia with altering specifications. I can usually get a good bunch to take the vaccine, it often requires incentives and assurance. Facts are less substantial. crestwoodOT

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