To convince anti-vaccines you don’t have to overwhelm them as much with data as you use dialogue and empathy

To convince anti-vaccines you don't have to overwhelm them as much with data as you use dialogue and empathy

The anti-vaccines do not believe in science, or rather: they do not believe in scientists, much less in multinationals. It is not enough to throw scientific data or evidence in their faces.

What seems most effective is that the physicians in whom they place their trust , who have shown them an honest, peer-to-peer approach and treat their children as individual patients and not generic, use dialogue and empathy to change attitudes about vaccination.


Studies and meta-analyzes overwhelmingly conclude that vaccines are safe. Scientists already know this. The problem is that there is a class of parents who do not trust scientists, least of all companies that enrich themselves by marketing vaccines .

To demonstrate which strategy was the most effective in persuading anti-vaccine parents to vaccinate their children, in 2014 the journal Pediatrics published a study evaluating four different strategies applied to 1,759 undecided parents :

  1. It was reported with data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the United States on the lack of evidence in the link autism and vaccination.
  2. The danger of the diseases prevented by vaccination was reported.
  3. Explicit images of children suffering from the aforementioned diseases were shown.
  4. The real case of an unvaccinated child who almost died of measles was explained in detail.

The conclusion was bleak: neither strategy had a significant effect on anti-vaccination attitude. As Pere Estupinyà concludes in his book To live science :

In the second subgroup, the belief that vaccines cause autism declined, but those who denied vaccination continued to do so. And as if that were not enough, the images of sick children and the case of the little boy who almost died caused distrust in parents and increased their fear of the side effects of vaccination. The conclusion of the researchers is that the current messages used to promote it do not work and in some cases can be counterproductive.