Addressing Vaccine Anxieties and Combatting Anti-Vaxxers

Saturday, February 13, 2016: 1:00 PM-2:30 PM
Marriott Balcony B (Marriott Wardman Park)
Mark A. Largent, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
The last decade has witnessed a growing number of parents who refuse to fully vaccinate their children according to their states’ mandated vaccine schedule.  Most of these parents are able to under-vaccinate their children because their states offer non-medical exemptions, which allows parents to send their under-vaccinated children to schools and licensed daycares.  In public and professional discourse, the parents of these under-vaccinated children are often described as motivated by anti-science sentiments.  However, when we examine these parents closely and without the prejudice that they are apparently under-educated or anti-science, we learn that in fact they are relatively well-informed about science and have high levels of trust in scientists and medical authorities.  Recognizing these parents’ actual concerns will force vaccine proponents to abandon claims that the parents are anti-science and develop more effective strategies for maintaining high levels of childhood vaccine compliance.