How to Change the Mind of an Anti-Vaxxer

How to Change the Mind of an Anti-Vaxxer

According to a recent Gallup Poll, 50% of Americans say they won’t get the COVID-19 vaccine once it becomes available. Although healthcare experts say that the vaccine is essential to containing the virus, there are many skeptics and self-identified anti-vaxxers who will not heed the call.

According to The Atlantic, some people believe that they need to take responsibility for their own health and “train their bodies to fend off diseases without the help of vaccines.”  Some vaccine-hesitant people mistrust the government, especially when the vaccine is being fast-tracked. Even infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said he felt Operation Warp Speed, the name the Trump administration gave to the accelerated pathway to a COVID-19 vaccine, is “unfortunate terminology” suggesting “subliminally reckless speed,” according to MSN.

Experts say that one way to convince the American public that vaccination is essential is to emphasize the devastation and potentially deadly nature of the virus. Doctors could show skeptics pictures of intubated patients or x-rays of damaged lungs, according to The Atlantic. A Brigham Young University study found that exposing people to the pain and suffering caused by vaccine-preventable diseases worked much better than combating them with vaccine facts. 

“Vaccines are victims of their own success,” said researcher Brian Poole, associate professor of microbiology at BYU. “They’re so effective that most people have no experience with vaccine preventable diseases. We need to reacquaint people with the dangers of those diseases.”

Nearly 70% of vaccine-hesitant students in the study who were assigned to interview people with polio and other diseases that have been essentially eradicated by vaccination, changed their minds, and become pro-vaccine.

Experts say that another strategy, especially in the case of children, is for pediatricians to directly tell parents that these are the vaccines he or she will be giving at the next appointment in a matter-of-fact, direct manner, according to The Atlantic.

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