Advocating for Childhood Immunization

Introduction

Based on parents’ attitudes as well as public health opinion, it is possible to formulate the problem in the following way: misconception regarding childhood immunization causes parents to reject it, thus spending more money on health care issues and increasing the risk of the infectious diseases (see Appendix A for the detailed information). The key consequences of parents’ hesitancy to immunization in childhood are the risk of infecting others and disease development per se (Siddiqui, Salmon, & Omer, 2013). According to the study by Tabacchi et al. (2016), current policies are insufficient and ineffective to increase parents’ trust in vaccination safety. In this connection, there is a need for an urgent action.

Decision Criteria, Alternatives, and Assumptions

The study published in The Lancet in 1998, one of the most credible journals, linked autism and inflammation in the intestines in children with the introduction of the vaccine against measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR). The authority of the journal and the media warned the society that vaccinations could be dangerous for children’s mental health and cause autism (Sadaf, Richards, Glanz, Salmon, & Omer, 2013). Plenty of parents have found this as a cause for concern, and fighters with vaccination made sure of their correctness. A series of scholarly studies have shown that to date there is no reliable relationship between vaccination and the development of autism (“Vaccines do not cause autism,” 2013). However, parents still tend to doubt the safety of vaccines.

The thesis statement may be formulated as follows: in order to address the specified problem, it is essential to increase parents’ awareness by assigning a top priority to their education, proper attention from the public health organizations, and increasing professionalism of caregivers. At this point, it should be clarified that vaccine itself contains some infection that encourages the body to struggle against and design immunity (Patel & Berenson, 2013). By causing a patient certain harm in order to avoid more harm that can lead to illness, immunization prevents severe consequences. It is of great importance to explain to parents that vaccines in childhood cannot cause mental problems. The difference between the vaccine and the disease consists solely in the fact that the former is a potential intervention before the latter. Both parents and doctors are often united in the assumption of the fact that vaccination should be introduced later. Those who are aware of the consequences of failure to vaccinate and unfounded medical discharge and those who cure vaccine-preventable diseases often have little collaboration. This leads to plenty of groundless objections of vaccination. Moreover, some health care representatives may encourage parents to avoid vaccination or be overly cautious, as noted by Patel and Berenson (2013). There are several reasons for this: the low level of education of doctors, a lack of time or support from colleagues in the event of negative reactions, and excessive overload leading to burnout. In this regard, it is possible to suggest that health care providers need to be trained, so that they will be able to properly treat every patient and consult parents regarding immunization. The mentioned objective may be accomplished with the help of continuous education, thus meeting the requirements of the modern environment and addressing parents’ concerns.

Along with the enhanced performance of health care providers, it is essential to reconsider the very system of medical education and health care organizations’ recommendations as the alternative (Sadaf et al., 2013). Since parents’ trust needs to be earned, it is possible to assume that this may be a long and difficult process with reasonable orders and clinical recommendations to combat myths and conspiracies. In particular, printed schematized national vaccination calendars are to be shared with parents (Sadaf et al., 2013). The latter are to be encouraged not to hesitate to ask their doctor the following questions: if this disease to be vaccinated for, where is it written, where can one read and make sure that it is so, or what is the role of immunization. Any other questions should be answered appropriately, thus allowing parents to receive the most credible information and comprehend that autism does not threaten their children’s health. More to the point, parents should understand that a doctor is the same person who reads books, studies, clinical guidelines, adapts the written there to a certain case, and constructs his or her judgments (Sadaf et al., 2013). It goes without saying that doctors are more experienced than parents, yet the latter have their integral right to be explained about health issue of their interest. At the same time, it is essential to remember that there are objective reasons for medical discharge from vaccination, and they are all prescribed in clinical and regulatory documents.

Individual learners’ biases may occur in case one has some instances of how vaccines affected his or her family members adversely or how it was presented in the media. Some people tend to fully trust the news or articles in journals without verifying them. At the same time, it seems that some specific perception of the importance of immunization may be a source of bias. However, the rationale for the described intervention is its relevance to the given problem and contemporary misconception around it. The increased awareness of parents is likely to assist in addressing this challenge and improve children’s health outcomes. The fact that the suggested intervention is based on the scholarly literature as well as the consideration of official organizations’ statements also proves the feasibility of the mentioned option. This plan seems to be realistic and achievable due to the fact that it embraces organizations, parents, and care providers – all parties that are interested in the given issue. Such a collaborative approach may be rather successful in eliminating vaccination bias.

My partner revealed similar ideas regarding misconception about immunization and autism in children. He emphasized that he had a couple of examples when children became ill after some time their parents rejected immunization, and the consequences were lamentable. These parents spent significant money and time to treat their children. The only difference in our collaborative work was the fact that my partner considered the introduction of the obligatory vaccination. In my opinion, it is better to explain the role of vaccines rather than to make them compulsory, since every person should have a choice. The value and benefits of the suggested intervention may be described as the attempt to reduce parents’ hesitancy in terms of the collaborative approach. The feedback of the advocacy group or the elected official may promote the discussion, during which it is possible to reconsider the assumed options and alternatives.

Advocacy Letter

Subject: Letter to the Elected Official Supporting the Importance of Immunizations

Dear …

As an advocate for public health, I am writing to express support for childhood immunization as a safe intervention. It is one of the most effective ways to eliminate infectious diseases in the United States and all over the world. The current problem is associated with the fact that parents tend to hesitate immunization and connect it to potential autism. Therefore, there is a risk of growing rates of infectious diseases as well as their severe consequences. It is essential to emphasize that no medical intervention can be totally risk-free, yet timely vaccination has a capacity of preventing infectious epidemic. The fact that the association between immunization and autism is rejected by the CDC, Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Public Health, and other official organizations proves its safety.

The misconception regarding immunizations is based on several factors, among which there are parents’ mistrust, insufficient professionalism of health care workers, and a lack of parents’ awareness. Therefore, it is vital to implement behavioral health interventions to address the specified health issue (“Vaccines when your child is sick,” 2014). In particular, Positive Behavior Support (PBS) and the cultural interaction theories are to be taken into account while developing and implementing the suggested intervention. The option to be proposed refers to parents’ education. It turns out that without confident knowledge of vaccination issues and a high personal interest in timely vaccination of parents, a child will almost certainly be vaccinated only partially or with great delay. Therefore, it is critical to dedicate much time to talk with parents about the schedule of vaccinations.

The alternative intervention focuses on the relevant training of health care providers. In particular, consistent with the existing literature, it should be stated that proper training is to increase knowledge and skills of health care workers, who would be able to provide the required information and answer parents’ questions (Shen, Fields, & McQuestion, 2014). When doctors contradict each other, a patient has nothing left but to take a circular defense and trust no one except other patients – fellows in misfortune. The above option seems to be rather important to ensure trust of parents to the safety of vaccination. At this point, health care representatives should strictly follow methodical instructions and other regulatory and clinical documents and do not provide medical guides without objective necessity. Being professionals in their field and remaining careful not to go beyond the boundaries of their specialty should compose the paramount goals as discrepancy can cause great harm by wrong advice. Health care providers have to act in terms of the professional ethics.

I am writing to urge you to support childhood immunization. The lack of support is likely to deteriorate the current situation and lead to the decreased health outcomes in children. In case parents would remain unaware of the great role of vaccines and their safety, their children would be at a high risk of infectious diseases. More to the point, the decision to leave children unvaccinated not only threatens their health, but also presents risk to others. Together, we can protect children and make their lives easier. It is important to collaborate to ensure high health indicators and support them despite rapidly changing environment.

Thank you for your quick and considerate attention to this rather significant matter. I look forward to hearing from you with regard to this request.

Best regards,

Your Name.

References

Patel, P. R., & Berenson, A. B. (2013). Sources of HPV vaccine hesitancy in parents. Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics, 9(12), 2649-2653.

Sadaf, A., Richards, J. L., Glanz, J., Salmon, D. A., & Omer, S. B. (2013). A systematic review of interventions for reducing parental vaccine refusal and vaccine hesitancy. Vaccine, 31(40), 4293-4304.

Shen, A. K., Fields, R., & McQuestion, M. (2014). The future of routine immunization in the developing world: Challenges and opportunities. Global Health: Science and Practice, 2(4), 381-394.

Siddiqui, M., Salmon, D. A., & Omer, S. B. (2013). Epidemiology of vaccine hesitancy in the United States. Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics, 9(12), 2643-2648.

Tabacchi, G., Costantino, C., Napoli, G., Marchese, V., Cracchiolo, M., Casuccio, A.,… Esculapio Working Group. (2016). Determinants of European parents’ decision on the vaccination of their children against measles, mumps and rubella: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics, 12(7), 1909-1923.

Vaccines do not cause autism. (2013). Web.

Vaccines when your child is sick. (2014). Web.

Appendix A

Public Health Issue Assessment Checklist

Checklist Questions Answers
Who is affected by it? Children and their parents under immunization decision-making
What is the nature and magnitude of the target health problem? This is the growing health issue all over the globe
What are the risk factors for the problem? Delayed or rejected vaccination may lead to the infection of others. Others factors are mistrust to vaccines and their efficiency and low trust to medicine
What are the economic and social consequences of the problem? Parents spend more money to treat their children and mistrust raises
What and how are the policies in place impacting health outcomes? Policies regarding children immunization allow choosing or rejecting it
What and how are ethical, cultural and / or faith perspectives shaping health outcomes? Ethical and cultural perspectives refer to vaccine safety and parents’ trust to information provided regarding it. Parents fear that immunization may cause autism
Why should action be taken? The action should be taken to increase parents’ trust in the role of immunization for children.
How important is the problem and the level of urgency to resolve this issue? Is the public health crisis occurring? This problem is urgent, since the rejection of vaccines may cause epidemic or even health crisis
Learners individually analyze health belief models to determine:
What are the public health’s assumptions about the issue? There is a need to apply new policies and increase parents’ awareness
How are their assumptions supported? Scholarly studies and official statements of public health organizations
What/who are their sources of information? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Public Health, etc.

Problem statement: misconception regarding childhood immunization causes parents to reject it, thus spending more money on health care issues and increasing the risk of the infectious diseases.