We live in a paradoxical age, a time when information is more available to the average person than ever before in history, yet the truth seems more elusive than ever. Multiple factors play a role in creating this volatile and anxiety provoking situation. Together these factors challenge even the most diligent of truth seekers, while make many who want quick answers to go utterly mad. It would be easy, and many do take this route, to just stick your head in the sand. While such an approach provides short term relief, reality marches on; it will catch up to such ostriches. Instead, take the time to dissect claims such as those made in this article so you can discern what is best for your health and the health of your family.
A recent open-access journal article in today’s focus reported on their findings regarding the effect of “misinformation” on the rate of vaccine hesitancy (or acceptance depending on your point of view) in America post COVID-19. Their research considered not only the effect on acceptance of the COVID vaccine in adults, but the vaccine in children as well. They are concerned that fewer people are receiving the COVID. They focus on the effects of what they call misinformation on these attitudes towards vaccines as a primary driver of vaccination rates.
A thorough dissection of this paper would require another paper-length post. Today, we simply ask questions to encourage your diligence in discerning truth in age of information over-abundance.
Where reading such a paper with its conclusion that misinformation is driving the hesitancy to vaccinate, one starting point is to ask what presuppositions are in play in the authors’ minds. When doing a study, researchers can intentionally or unintentionally design a trial or survey to find what they are looking for.
This study seems bent on demonstrating that “misinformation” is the key factor in vaccine hesitancy. This can be seen in how they limit their consideration of other potential factors. Of course, they consider race, economic status, education, being a parent, political party and a few other standard factors. They leave out the fact that someone might have chosen against the vaccine due to someone known to the individual having experienced a side effect of a vaccine. This possibility according to them is very rare and thus dismissed as a possibility. They likewise ignore the possibility that a parent may have a child with autism which at least correlated in time with the administration of a vaccine in the past. Instead, they make the blanket statement that vaccines do not cause autism. Finally in this category, they never mention the reality of religious exemptions or objections to the vaccines. To the researchers, those cases do not seem to exist. These are just three plausible factors that are ignored or dismissed. Many others are possible.
We should also considers the aim of this paper. Their conclusion states:
“Misinformation about the safety of vaccines in general is associated with hesitancy toward the COVID-19 vaccines for both adults and children ages 5–11. Greater efforts to reduce these general vaccination misbeliefs as well as those that have arisen during the pandemic may pay dividends since a large segment of those harboring misinformed beliefs are either less than certain in their beliefs or do not know with certainty whether the false assertions about vaccines on which we focused are false. Finding credible sources to transmit these messages will be critical moving forward.”
This clearly indicates that they want more adults and children to be vaccinated. They have made up their minds that this vaccine is the best for individuals and society. They cannot consider that maybe the vaccine has problems or may not be the best for every single person eligible for it. They also believe that “misinformation” stands as a major or the primary factor in vaccine refusal. They believe such “misinformation” is false and deserves to be countered by truth.
So, here we can finally agree on a few points. Misinformation exists. Misinformation is false. False information deserves to be challenged by truth. However, we will disagree on two things. First, we would include different information in this category of “misinformation”. They have only made assertions about what they believe qualifies as misinformation without any proof. They then urge the proponents of vaccines to put forward more evidence. True, for those claiming vaccines are safe and effective, we need to see more evidence. Simultaneously, we need those same proponents to seriously and honestly consider the evidence against safety and efficacy being “settled truth”.
Solving this debate will require more than these admonitions to “stop believing misinformation because I said it is misinformation”. It will require grown-ups to sit down and lay it all on the table without holding on to their presuppositions or their unproven viewpoints. Helping our world live healthier more abundant lives requires honesty, humility, and cooperation, not name-calling.
Daniel Romer, Kenneth M. Winneg, Patrick E. Jamieson, Colleen Brensinger, Kathleen H. Jamieson. Misinformation about vaccine safety and uptake of COVID-19 vaccines among adults and 5–11-year-olds in the United States. Vaccine, 2022; DOI: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2022.09.046
Thanks to Science Daily:
Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. “Misinformation about vaccine safety drives reluctance to vaccinate children, study finds.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 October 2022. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/10/221003090602.htm>.
Sanctuary Functional Medicine, under the direction of Dr Eric Potter, IFMCP MD, provides functional medicine services to Nashville, Middle Tennessee and beyond. We frequently treat patients from Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Ohio, Indiana, and more... offering the hope of healthier more abundant lives to those with chronic illness.