Whenever I talk about my research on how parents come to decide to reject vaccines for their children, my explanations are met with a range of reactions, but I almost always hear the same questions.
What is wrong with those parents? Are they anti-science? Are they anti-expert? Are they simply ignorant or selfish? Are they crazy?
The year is not half over, and the number of measles cases has now exceeded highs not seen since the U.S. was declared measles-free in 2000. Given the indisputably large role unvaccinated individuals are playing in it, parents who reject vaccines are increasingly vilified. Some people call to have these parents arrested or punished. Many are asking states to tighten laws that make exemptions to school enrollment without vaccines too easy.
Others dismiss these “Whole Foods moms” as harming others and call for them to be socially ostracized.
As a sociologist, I have spent most of a decade talking to parents, pediatricians, policymakers, lawyers and scientists to understand competing views of vaccines. In my research, I find that parents who reject vaccines – by which I mean mostly mothers – work hard to make what they see as an informed decision to do what they think is best for their children. They also want to make a decision that best aligns with their belief system.
Experts, at least of their own kids
Many “anti-vax” parents see themselves as experts on their own children, as best able to decide what their children need and whether their child needs a particular vaccine, and better qualified than health experts or public health agencies to decide what is best for their family.
Source: What’s wrong with those anti-vaxxers? They’re just like the rest of us : The Conversation