Argument: "If there were any problems with the vaccines, if they were unsafe or ineffective, doctors would know about it. But there is currently almost complete scientific consensus - vaccines are safe and effective. After all, doctors, with their long years of formal training, have probably studied vaccines much more than you could ever read on the Internet".
My wife also thought vaccines were safe and effective. She was taught this. I asked her how many hours during the whole period of her education had been devoted to vaccines studies. It turned out that it was only a few hours. Of these, they learned the vaccination schedule for two hours, and another two hours had been dedicated to a lecture on "how to respond to anti-vaccination arguments." By the way, after this lecture, almost all the students said that the lecturer's arguments did not convince them, and that the anti-vaccinations arguments were more convincing. They, of course, didn't think that the anti-vaccine proponents were somehow right. They decided that the lecturer simply did not prepare well for this lecture.
But maybe the approach is different in other universities? Well, that's how much they teach about vaccines in the most prestigious American universities. Of the 6,700 pages that a medical college student must learn, only 4 pages are dedicated to vaccines.
Doctors have a financial interest in vaccinations. The more vaccines they sell, the higher their bonuses are.
The insurance company Blue Cross Blue Shield, for example, pays the pediatricians $400 for each fully vaccinated child. But only if the percentage of vaccinated in their practice exceeds 63%. This is the main reason pediatricians in the United States refuse to treat unvaccinated children.
Argument: "But I talked with several doctors, and they all say that the vaccines are safe. Moreover, doctors would not have vaccinated their own children if they considered the vaccines unsafe ".
Most people believe that a doctor can treat patients as he sees fit. The reality is far from it. For example, if a doctor read several scientific articles and came to conclusion that it is better to treat a certain disease in some way other that the approved protocol, he has no right to do so. The doctor must follow the approved treatment protocols, otherwise he will lose his license. If the doctor advises the patient to use unapproved medicine, for example, to treat whooping cough with vitamin C instead of an antibiotic, and something happens to the patient, the doctor will have to defend himself in court. If the doctor prescribes antibiotics (which are not particularly effective for the whooping cough), and something happens the patient, the doctor will not bear any responsibility. So, what would be the point of the doctor advising the patient something that is not covered by the protocols?
Similarly, the doctor, by and large, does not have the right to advise the patient not to get vaccinated. He may very quickly lose his license (especially in the USA), and even if he doesn't lose it, his career will not go far.
Nevertheless, there are many doctors openly opposing vaccinations. Of course, these doctors always manage their own private practice, contrary to being employed by medical institutions.
If you ask my wife, as a physician, whether she advises you vaccinate your children, and she doesn't know or trust you, she will answer that she does advise it. She will recite that the vaccines are the greatest gift of medicine to humanity, they saved millions of lives etc.
If you ask her whether she vaccinates her own child and she trusts you completely, she will explain that she will scratch out the eyes of anyone who will approach her child with the syringe, and will advise you to do the same.
Therefore, it is important to ask the right question. Even more importantly, in order to get a truthful answer, it is vital that the doctor you refer to trusts you and knows for sure you wouldn't file a complain against him, or publicly expose his advice.
Of course, most doctors are likely to vaccinate their children. But that's only because they are taught almost nothing about vaccines. Therefore, it is also important to ask the doctor how many scientific articles about the safety and efficacy of vaccines he or she has read. Ask them to also give you an opportunity to read at least one study proving the safety of the vaccine he is about to inject.
And yet many doctors still take risks and do not advise their patients to get vaccinated. Here are a few studies:
Despite awareness of recommendations, why do not health care workers not immunize pregnant women?
Am J Infect Control
Despite the fact that 93% of doctors are aware of Ministry of Health recommendation to vaccinate pregnant women against flu and whooping cough, only 70% of them follow these guidelines. One third of the physicians believes that both vaccines are either dangerous, or that their safety is questionable. 40% of the doctors who believe that these vaccinations are dangerous, would still recommend them to their patients. (Israel)
How do physicians immunize their own children? Differences among pediatricians and nonpediatricians.
5% of non-pediatric doctors do not vaccinate their children against measles, mumps and rubella. They believe that combined vaccines are unsafe, that it is safer to have the disease than to get vaccinated, and that homeopathic treatment works well for these diseases.
10% postponed the DTaP vaccination for a later date, 15% postponed the MMR vaccination.
One third of the doctors did not vaccinate their children against hepatitis B and Hib. Only 12% chose to vaccinate against the flu, and only 3% chose to vaccinate against chickenpox. 34% of pediatricians did not vaccinate their children according to the vaccination schedule.
The survey involved only the InfoVac subscribers, that is, doctors who are actively engaged in the vaccinations issues. Hereby the actual fraction of doctors who do not vaccinate their children is probably much higher. (Switzerland)
Vaccination practices among physicians and their children.
21% of pediatric specialists and 10% of total pediatricians will refuse at least one vaccination for their child.
19% of specialist pediatricians and 5% of general pediatricians will delay MMR vaccination until 1.5 years of age.
18% of specialist pediatricians will not vaccinate their child against rotavirus, 6% will not vaccinate against hepatitis A. (USA)
Physicians who do and do not recommend children get all vaccinations.
J Health Commun
11% of the physicians did not recommend their patients to vaccinate their children with all the scheduled vaccines.
Therapists did not provide recommendations to vaccinate twice as often as pediatricians (therapists' vaccines-related earnings are lower).
Physicians trust medical journals more than the CDC and the FDA. They trust the pharmaceutical companies less than the Internet. (USA)
Paediatricians knowledge, attitudes, and practices for immunizations for infants in Italy.
BMC Public Health
Only 10.3% of the paediatricians participating in this survey had a very favourable attitude towards the utility of the recommended vaccinations for infants
60% of the paediatricians would like to know more about vaccines.
Only 25% of the paediatricians administered "recommended" (as opposed to "mandatory") vaccines to their patients (whooping cough, measles, mumps, chickenpox, rubella, Hib, pneumococcus, meningococcus). (Italy)
Factors associated with vaccination for hepatitis B, pertussis, seasonal and pandemic influenza among French general practitioners: a 2010 survey.
27% of general practitioners were not vaccinated against hepatitis B, 36% were not vaccinated against whooping cough, 23% were not vaccinated against influenza. (France)
Knowledge, attitudes, beliefs and practices of general practitioners towards measles and MMR vaccination in southeastern France in 2012.
Clin Microbiol Infect
13% of general practitioners do not consider measles a dangerous disease. 12% of general practitioners consider the second dose of MMR to be useless.
33% of general practitioners do not believe that MMR vaccination should be mandatory for children under 2 years of age. (France)
What lies behind the low rates of vaccinations among nurses who treat infants?
After Israeli nurses had been asked for 3 months to receive vaccines against whooping cough, only 2% (two percent) consented to do so. The nurses in question have been employed by Mother and Child Centers, and their primary duty is to vaccinate children.
Most nurses do not trust the health authorities, and desperately resist compulsory vaccinations. They fear the vaccines adverse effects and assume the hazard of influenza and whooping cough to be less severe than of the vaccines.
They believe that the parents should have the choice whether to vaccinate their child or not, and they demand the same respect for their own rights.
The nurses distinguish between their work and personal lives. While those nurses' duty is to vaccinate other's children, they consider their own vaccination status to be their private business, and do not assume that informing the parents of their opinion about vaccinations or their own vaccination status is necessary.
The authors of the study concluded that the nurses who do the vaccinations are, in fact, opposing vaccinations. (Israel)
This is probably the most important study of all those presented herein. In most of the other studies, data was collected from answers of medical doctors to surveys. Doctors perfectly understand that they are expected to not refer to vaccinations in a negative way, therefore it is reasonable to assume that the real proportion of doctors who do not vaccinate their children is much higher. The data in this study on the other hand is not based on surveys but rather on factual immunization records. 98% of nurses whose main duty is to vaccinate children refuse to be vaccinated themselves!
Israeli doctors, notwithstanding, also refuse to be vaccinated against the flu.
Influenza vaccination among healthcare workers in Italy.
Hum Vaccin Immunother
Health workers are refusing influenza vaccination, despite ten years of efforts to increase the vaccination rates. Only 30% of doctors, 11% of nurses, and 9% of clinical staff have been vaccinated against the flu. (Italy)
Vaccinating health care workers during an influenza pandemic.
Occup Med Lond
41% of healthcare workers refused to vaccinate against the swine flu during the 2009 pandemic. They believed that the vaccine was ineffective, and there were side effects, and in general, this disease usually passes easily.
57% of healthcare workers refused to get vaccinated against the "regular" flu. (London, Great Britain)
Influenza vaccination amongst hospital health care workers in Beijing.
Occup Med Lond
Only 13% of the doctors and 21% of the nurses received vaccines against influenza.
40% of health care workers believe that the flu vaccine can actually cause flu. (Beijing, China)
Seasonal and Pandemic A (H1N1) 2009 influenza vaccination coverage and attitudes among health-care workers in a Spanish University Hospital.
More than half of the health-care workers refused to be vaccinated against influenza, and only 16% received the vaccine against swine flu during the 2009 pandemic. They doubted the effectiveness of the vaccination and were afraid of the adverse effects. (Madrid, Spain)
Influenza vaccination compliance among health care workers in a German university hospital.
For more than 20 years, German health care workers have been pushed to be vaccinated for influenza, but only 39% of doctors and 17% of nurses are vaccinated. They are afraid of adverse effects, believe that the vaccine can cause the disease, and do not believe in its efficacy. (Berlin, Germany)
Influenza vaccination attitudes and practices among US registered nurses.
Am J Infect Control
41% of nurses are not vaccinated against the flu. They were afraid of the adverse effects, they believed that the risk of the infection was low, and in general, they did not consider this vaccine to be effective. (USA)
Skepticism towards Emerging Infectious Diseases and Influenza Vaccination Intentions in Nurses.
J Health Commun
Swiss nurses are skeptical of infectious diseases and the vaccine against influenza.
Outbreaks of diseases are always less dangerous than being announced by public health authorities and the media, reducing public confidence in the reliability of expert sources of information. Conflict of interest between public organizations and private corporations also reduces public confidence.
Are Recent Medical Graduates More Skeptical of Vaccines?
Recent graduates of medical faculties have lower belief in vaccine efficacy and safety. More recently graduated health care providers also oppose compulsory vaccination and believe vaccines do more harm than good.
Australian doctors who help to their patients to get exemptions from vaccinations are prosecuted. More.
Indian Doctors receive gifts from a pharmaceutical company if they order a large amount of vaccines.
Here is an example of a physician who was sued for recommending a low-carb diet on Twitter.
Regardless of how much they'll explain doctors and nurses that the vaccines are safe and effective, not all of them will believe it. Scientific evidence suggests that the "medical consensus" on vaccines safety and efficacy isn't more than a myth.