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Talk: Overcoming Adolescent Vaccine Hesitancy

Date: 17th July 2017

Speaker: Prof Paul Van Buynder

Slides: click here


Vaccine hesitancy is unfortunately common in Australia, and has lead to a decline in vaccination rates. Our local area has one of the worst vaccination rates in Australia.

Prof Van Buynder and his team have implemented a number of tactics, including:

  • Mass media campaigns. These include the #VaxMe campaign, "crunchy" parents campaign and stories from parents whose children have suffered because those around them have not vaccinated, or they themselves chose not to vaccinate their kids. They even got Jennifer Lopez on board.

  • Shorter and more usable form for the HPV vaccine for parents. This has been particularly successful in increasing HPV vaccine completion rates among high school children.

We were horrified to hear that the movie "Vaxxed" was going to be aired somewhere in our local community, despite being banned by the numerous councils in the area. Three days ago the film (which is nothing but a bunch slick anti-vaccine propaganda) was aired at Miami State High School after being told it was promoting "organic produce". Nine news reports that the "Education Minister Kate Jones also slammed the group, calling them “liars”. “They lied on the (venue hire) form, they lied to the school and they lied to the community,”" What a bunch of twats.

I'm not going to do a blog post here debunking the various anti-vaccination myths, as there a numerous others that have already done this; however I will leave a few take home messages I got from Paul's talk:

  • Just about every horrible thing you've heard about the HPV vaccine is not true. This includes becoming infertile, sudden death, promoting promiscuity and turning into a toadstool (ok - I made up the last one, but is almost as true as the other claims). These are all things I heard as a young female when the vaccine first came out, but it didn't stop me from working out it's all probably a load of BS, which is it, and getting fully vaccinated.

  • For those engaged in the anti-vaccine community, the power of the personal message is huge. Unfortunately, reason seldom works, but rather the personal messages are far stronger. This is why these types of campaigns have been so successful. It also helps if you're a crunchy vegan-tree-hugging-organic-food-eating-animal-loving mum who is telling your mates that you vaccinate your kids - we need people like you to help us spread the message within your communities. I found this one particularly powerful:

  • Meningococcal W has his our shores and is, plainly put, scary. It's different to other meningococcal disease in that it doesn't cause the classic symptoms as other strains but is more likely to be fatal. The good news is, there is a vaccine available.

  • The influenza vaccine is safe, and everyone should be getting it, including kids.

If you have any questions regarding vaccination in the Gold Coast area, or in general, you can contact Prof Paul Van Buynder


Twitter: @paulvanbuynder

Phone: + 61(0)7 56879000 +61 (0)414278031

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