Experts suggest doctors discuss risks, virtues of vaccines

Oct. 5, 2013 at 1:47 AM
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TEL AVIV, Israel, Oct. 5 (UPI) -- Nearly all pediatricians in Israel strongly support infant vaccination, but most do not believe their role is to force treatment on parents, researchers say.

Dr. Ayala Maayan-Metzger of Tel Aviv University's Sackler Faculty of Medicine said the study recommended pediatricians use the art of persuasion, with the help of communication experts, as they discuss the risks and virtues of vaccination with parents.

"Our advice is that pediatricians find ways to communicate their views to parents in a respectful way that doesn't discourage them from seeking treatment for their children," Maayan-Metzger said in a statement. "This is something experts in modern communication could help with."

Every major medical body in the world including Israel's Ministry of Health, the American Medical Association, and the World Health Organization recommends a battery of infant vaccinations, Maayan-Metzger said.

However, over the past decade, an increasing number of parents have chosen not to comply and studies showed various reasons for this trend, including: a growing distrust of professional expertise, unproven theories about a causal effect for autism and the parents' insistence on their own right to decide on medical care for their children.

The study, published in the journal Acta Paediatrica, found 92 percent of the 376 Israeli pediatricians agreed vaccinations widely available free of charge in Israel, were in infants' best interest, while 71 percent expressed negative feelings toward parents who refuse to vaccinate their infants.

But 37 percent agreed that parents have a right to decide about child vaccinations, another 37 percent agreed vaccinations should be officially enforced and 2 percent said they would object to treating children who had not been vaccinated.

"The findings show how strongly doctors here support the vaccination program and stand behind the Ministry of Health," Maayan-Metzger said. "It's not a decision handed down from on high. We feel passionately that it's the right thing to do."

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