Rahul K. Parikh, MD
We need our academy, along with other groups such as the American Academy of Family Physicians and, yes, the CDC, to be more potent when arguing as to why vaccines are safe, effective, and necessary. They can do this by getting behind a clear and assertive campaign. If opponents to vaccines put a celebrity on Oprah, then we need to take out a full page ad in national newspapers to show parents what a child with tetanus looks like, or air an ad with a parent telling the story of how their child died from Haemophilus influenzae meningitis. Images and stories like that bear much more emotional weight than graphs that show the decline in tetanus or H influenzae meningitis since vaccines for both of these diseases became available. We also need to craft effective language when we address antivaccine groups’ accusations against the medical community. In short, we need to defend our beliefs and ourselves more strongly.
Such a stand is not without its risks. Some will criticize us for using fear and anxiety to manipulate public opinion. Such”negative messages” are okay if they are done ethically and tell a truth, that truth being that vaccines save lives. Others may suggest that we urge proxy organizations to spread the word instead of putting our own reputations at stake. However, those people should realize that we physicians still hold the kind of stature that can endorse and affect change. Thus, we should thrust this responsibility on ourselves.
PEDIATRICS Vol. 121 No. 3 March 2008, pp. 621-622 (doi:10.1542/peds.2007-3235)
This whole thing got me thinking a lot. Isn’t it kind of funny that we can think all sorts of things, yet not be able to explain them or have words define them? That’s has been the case here. I will try to get it all out in another post soon.