More than One Way to Vaccinate a Cat

No, this isn’t about cat vaccinations, but you should make sure all your pets’ shots are up to date, too. It is what we like to call, in the business, word play (technically, the term is “god-awful, hacky word play”).

With the focus placed on vaccinations by the measles screwing with Disneyland, there has been a lot of pessimistic coverage of the research showing that there is not a single, magic bullet, public service message (out of an exhaustive set of four options) that will convince everyone to vaccinate.

Over at Science News, Bethany Brookshire has an excellent post discussing the many ways to persuade people to vaccinate and why certain strategies are more likely to work for some, but not for others.

Research has begun to examine why people fear vaccines, and what can be done about it…But in all of the research, one thing is clear: There is not a single, foolproof way to convey that the benefits of vaccination far outweigh the harms.

Bethany Brookshire at Science News

In the conclusion, Bethany raises the critical point that our public health approaches to vacccination have actually been pretty effective. Vaccination rates remain high, even if they have slumped a bit recently.

We may be at the limits of what can be achieved through public service messaging and need to focus on one-on-one interactions, while keeping the public pro-vaccination message strong.

Luckily, parents who adamantly refuse to vaccinate are in the minority. Unluckily, as the Disneyland outbreak shows, that tiny minority is still needed to keep infectious diseases from rising again. “The reality is that most people do get vaccinated, “Wilson says. “Maybe it’s 90 percent, but you need 95 or 100 percent. It’s challenging to get 100 percent of the population to agree to something. It’s not that there’s a disastrous failure of messaging. It’s that the threshold for success is so high.”

Bethany Brookshire at Science News

Having been in many men’s restrooms, I can state confidently that we are doing a better job on vaccination than we are on hand washing.

Distribution

At current levels, not only does the rate of unvaccincated individuals in the population matter, but their distribution, including which vaccines they are missing (ie, clusters are bad).

Vaccinated – Like a Boss

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Wanted: Leadership

In the wake of Chris Christie and Rand Paul pandering to the anti-vaccine crowd using bankrupt personal liberty rhetoric (coherent libertarian ideology requires one to admit that externalities* exist), Sarah Despres, former Congressional staffer, connects Congress’ abdication of leadership on the vital health initiative of vaccinations for political expediency to the current revival of measles as something parents have to fear:

Few legislators were prepared to stand up for science…As for the others, the antivaccine evidence presented might have been shaky, but the science is complicated. And most members of Congress — on the committee and off — did not feel comfortable opposing the advocates and parents armed with heartbreaking stories of children whose autism seemed to come on just after they received their routine immunizations.
Sarah Despres in Politico Magazine

*The economic version of the basic concept parents not named Ron Paul teach their children that their actions affect other people and that you are responsible for the effects of those actions.