Vaccine Education Programs May Not Be Effective

The study's lead author told Reuters Health that the research is an extension of his work in political science that found it is difficult to correct people's misinformation.

"We found political misinformation is often very difficult to correct and giving people the correct information can backfire," said Brendan Nyhan, a political scientist at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire.

"We were interested in seeing if the messages public health agencies were putting out were effective," he said.

Specifically, Nyhan and his colleagues examined public health campaigns about the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine.

Although national U.S. MMR vaccination rates are high, the researchers write in Pediatrics that there are states where the rate dips below 90 percent, which is a commonly used threshold for so-call herd immunity. Herd immunity is the point where high vaccination rates within a population may also offer protection to the unvaccinated.

They also write that maintaining high levels of MMR vaccination is important because of the increasing number of measles cases reported in the U.S. and recent outbreaks in the UK. Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease that can lead to death.

Another study published by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) researchers in the same journal found that vaccinating U.S. kids born in 2009 according to the routine immunization schedule will save about $70 billion and prevent over 40,000 early deaths and over 20 million cases of disease.

Image: Vaccine, via Shutterstock

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