Discussion topic: Would prenatal vaccine conversations help assuage parent fears?

June 11th, 2011 → 11:16 am @ // No Comments

I have a piece in tomorrow’s Washington Post Outlook section titled “An early cure for parents’ vaccine panic.” It outlines some thoughts I have about implementing a standard pre-natal appointment for parents to discuss vaccines and vaccine safety. In a recent post on my blog at the Public Library of Science, I started what I hope will be a fruitful back-and-forth for doctors and parents to share their thoughts on the issue. Check it out — I’d love to hear what you think.

Post: Parents and pediatricians: Do you think a pre-natal discussion about vaccines would help assuage fears? (The Panic Virus Blog, The Public Library of Science.)

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4 Comments → “Discussion topic: Would prenatal vaccine conversations help assuage parent fears?”

  1. Small Town Doc

    12 years ago

    Mr. Mnookin, Your plan is fantastic! I am a small town doctor specializing in internal medicine and pediatrics, and I think your idea could have incredible impact if it were to be instituted on a large scale.

    Thoughts about implementation in a small community:
    1. When women think they are pregnant, often their first stop may be the family doctor (or internal med doctor). They obtain a pregnancy test that is a basic test then a blood test to see how far they are into the pregnancy, and are then referred to an OB/GYN or family doc who delivers. During that visit, the woman could receive info about immunizations, breast feeding, etc.
    2. Pediatricians could talk to the OB/GYN’s in town about handing out vaccine info packets; packets could have office numbers and names of local pediatricians to contact for further info. Packets could include quotations from local pediatricians/family doctors about why to vaccinate. I think a photo of the local doctors could also be included so that the reader sees the people delivering the information.
    3. Perhaps a short video/CD about vaccines could be part of one of the OB/GYN visits: patient could watch the video while waiting for the doctor.

    Thanks for your ideas. Can’t wait to read your books!
    – Small Town Doc


  2. Seth Mnookin

    12 years ago

    Note: There’s a discussion going on about this topic on my post at The Public Library of Science’s Panic Virus blog.


  3. Lori

    12 years ago

    Dear Seth.

    I would like to add one point to this idea (which I think is great!). One of the growing concerns that I have is that the number of vaccines has increased substantially over the years, and that the diseases that they are meant to present are, in my opinion, less life threatening, and less prevalent than the diseases targeted by vaccines in the past. I had no issues giving my daughter a vaccine for Polio & Tuberculosis (having seen and read about the high incidence and ravages of these diseases). But now there are mandatory vaccines for chicken pox (which can have fatal complications, but which is generally a minor illness) and HPV (which has a low incidence in the population, and can be prevented through safe sexual practices). Even my family doctor agreed when we questioned her that there were too many, and helped us walk through the pros/cons of each. We ended up giving about 80% of the vaccines suggested by our health authority, and are quite comfortable with this decision.


  4. John

    12 years ago

    Perhaps you could send them a Big Pharma glossy brochure or alternatively consider this sage advice from the fine paediatricians at Children’s Hospital, Boston.

    Developmen­t of newborn and infant vaccines. July 2011

    “Vaccines for early-life immunizati­on are a crucial biomedical interventi­on to reduce global morbidity and mortality, yet their developmen­tal path has been largely ad hoc, empiric, and inconsiste­nt.

    Immune responses of human newborns and infants are distinct and cannot be predicted from those of human adults or animal models.

    Therefore, understand­ing and modeling age-specif­ic human immune responses will be vital to the rational design and developmen­t of safe and effective vaccines for newborns and infants.”


    As a parent I think I like to take my information from the people who actually have the best interests of my ‘individual’ child at heart.


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