Viewpoint: 4 vaccine misconceptions physicians should address with patients

Physicians have a responsibility to provide patients with a solid foundation of information on vaccines, Amitha Kalaichandran, MD, a resident physician of pediatrics at Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario, wrote in an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times.

She outlined four vaccine misconceptions providers should address with patients:

1. Physicians must explain how vaccines work. Dr. Kalaichandran cited a father who viewed vaccines as medicine for sick children and questioned why his healthy child would need a vaccine. After she explained that vaccines are actually tools to prevent future ailments, the father agreed to vaccinate his child.

2. Autism diagnoses often occur around the same age that children receive vaccinations, said Dr. Kalaichandran. Yet timing is not enough to draw causal relationships; there must also be a rational reason to connect one occurrence to another. Physicians should explain that rigorous research has shown no connection between autism and vaccines, said Dr. Kalaichandran.

3. People are poor judges of risk, said Dr. Kalaichandran. They may tend to fear rare vaccination side effects over vaccine-preventable conditions, even though they are at a far greater risk for the latter.

4. Vaccines only represent a small portion of pharmaceutical profits. Therefore, it is incorrect for patients to assume that vaccines are only promoted for large profits, Dr. Kalaichandran said.

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