Letters to the Editor

Conversations About Vaccines Should Underscore Their Public Health Benefits to Patients


Am Fam Physician. 2017 Apr 1;95(7):413-414.

Original Article: Strategies for Addressing and Overcoming Vaccine Hesitancy [Editorial]

Issue Date: July 15, 2016

Available online at: https://www.aafp.org/afp/2016/0715/p94.html

to the editor: In their otherwise excellent editorial “Strategies for Addressing and Overcoming Vaccine Hesitancy,” Drs. Loehr and Savoy write, “In the United States, the parent or patient has the right to make medical decisions….” Vaccination is a public health intervention, however, and not simply a medical one. Parents are required by law to immunize their children in order to send them to school, and as the editorial points out, the American Academy of Family Physicians opposes policies that allow nonmedical immunization exemptions. In the United States, we respect a person's right to travel freely; but, this does not mean we condone the running of red traffic lights, because doing so puts others at risk. This is precisely the point with immunization. A parent's refusal to vaccinate his or her child puts every other child at risk.

The public health rationale for vaccination and the community responsibility to have one's children vaccinated are critical messages that physicians for too long have failed to deliver to parents. In doing so, we have inadvertently contributed to a public failure to fully understand the rationale for recommending vaccines.

Author disclosure: No relevant financial affiliations.

Send letters to afplet@aafp.org, or 11400 Tomahawk Creek Pkwy., Leawood, KS 66211-2680. Include your complete address, e-mail address, and telephone number. Letters should be fewer than 400 words and limited to six references, one table or figure, and three authors.

Letters submitted for publication in AFP must not be submitted to any other publication. Possible conflicts of interest must be disclosed at time of submission. Submission of a letter will be construed as granting the AAFP permission to publish the letter in any of its publications in any form. The editors may edit letters to meet style and space requirements.

This series is coordinated by Kenny Lin, MD, MPH, Associate Deputy Editor for AFP Online.



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