from the and-the-oscar-for-vaccine-education-goes-to... dept.
Catherine Saint Louis reports at the NYT that according to a survey of 534 primary care physicians, a wide majority of pediatricians and family physicians acquiesce to parents who wish to delay vaccinating their children, even though the doctors feel these decisions put children at risk for measles, whooping cough and other ailments. One-third of doctors said they acquiesced “often” or “always”; another third gave in only “sometimes.” According to Dr. Paul A. Offit, such deference is in keeping with today’s doctoring style, which values patients as partners. “At some level, you’re ceding your expertise, and you want the patient to participate and make the decision,” says Offit, a pediatrician specializing in infectious diseases. “It is sad that we are willing to let children walk out of our offices vulnerable to potentially fatal infections. There’s a fatigue here, and there’s a kind of learned helplessness.”
Part of the problem is the lack of a proven strategy to guide physicians in counselling parents. “Unfortunately, we don’t have a solid evidence base in terms of how to communicate to patients about vaccines,” says Saad Omer adding that although he does not sanction the use of alternative vaccine schedules, he understands why primary care physicians keep treating these patients — just as doctors do not kick smokers out of their practices when they fail to quit. Dr. Allison Kempe, the study’s lead author and a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital Colorado, thinks the time has come to acknowledge that the idea that “vaccine education can be handled in a brief wellness visit is untenable” and says that we may need pro-vaccine parents and perhaps even celebrities to star in marketing campaigns to help “reinforce vaccination as a social norm.” "Whether the topic is autism or presidential politics," says Frank Bruni, "celebrity trumps authority and obviates erudition."