The One Thing That May Actually Change Anti-Vaxxer Parents’ Minds

While anti-vaxxers are a relatively small portion of the population, they are growing. Since 2001, the number of unvaccinated kids has quadrupled, which puts not only those children at risk but also anyone around them who is too young or too immunocompromised to receive vaccines themselves. The anti-vax movement is also growing more vocal both on social media and in real life. While there have been attempts to change people’s minds with fact-based campaigns, maddeningly, they don’t seem to work. Instead, as a recent studies indicate, what does change their minds is exposure to the very diseases vaccines are meant to eradicate. As Healthline reports, the journal PLOS ONE published a study that shows vaccine-hesitant adults are more likely to have their minds changed if they live near an outbreak.

This reflects similar findings this spring from a team of researchers at Brigham Young University. While participants in the study did not have to live near an outbreak, they did have to interview someone who had suffered from a vaccine-preventable disease like polio.

“Researchers found nearly 70 percent of the students who interviewed someone with a vaccine-preventable disease moved from vaccine-hesitant to pro-vaccine by the end of the study — even when they had NO vaccine curriculum,” BYU wrote about the findings.

While information may not help vaccine-hesitant parents, misinformation is part of the reason they become hesitant in the first place. Pinterest announced Wednesday that searches for vaccine-related words like “measles” and “vaccine safety” will now only return results from reputable health institutions such as the World Health Organization. The pins also won’t be able to display comments, CNN reports.

In a statement, the WHO notes that social media “will likely be major sources of information for the next generations of parents.” They also urge other social media platforms to follow Twitter’s lead and stem the flood of misinformation at the source.

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