NPR had report on an interesting experiment in which they found that if physicians, in their interactions with the parents of children, simply acted as if it was a given that the children would be vaccinated, then over 70 parents went along with it. But when the physicians had an open-ended discussion with parents about vaccinations, 83% decided against it. Of course, this ‘don’t ask, just tell’ policy works only with those parents who are unsure or on the fence about vaccinations. It has little effect on die-hard opponents.
But it appears that requiring parents whose unvaccinated children were exposed to measles to quarantine them is also producing results, finally making some parents realize that there are costs, at lest in the form of inconveniences, associated with not vaccinating.
Parents across the country are being forced to hire sitters or take time off from work or school to stay home with children quarantined because of measles exposure. In Santa Monica, Calif, measles temporarily shut down a high school day care center for teen mothers. Fourteen infants were told to stay home for three weeks, the incubation period for measles. That could leave their teen mothers out of school for three weeks as well.
This inconvenience has spurred some skeptics to decide to vaccinate.
Parents whose children have been quarantined after they were exposed to measles are scrambling for child care or taking weeks off from work. Many who have long resisted vaccinations have a newfound fear of the virus and are flooding pediatrician offices looking for the shots. Some pediatricians are running low of vaccine and others are calling parents to ask them to vaccinate their babies. Some are warning families not to bring contagious kids into crowded waiting rooms.
In the past, [pediatrician Amy] Shapiro had to work to persuade some parents to vaccinate their children on time. Now, so many parents are asking for the measles vaccine that she nearly ran out of shots.
As with smallpox before, successful campaigns to eliminate disease produce complacency and low vaccination rates, and it then takes disease outbreaks to bring the value and benefits of vaccinations back into focus.