Can skeptical parents be persuaded to vaccinate?

Apr 28, 2017

By Kai Kupferschmidt

The beloved novelist and children’s author Roald Dahl once wrote an open letter describing how his daughter Olivia suffered from measles when she was 7 years old. Olivia seemed to be recovering, Dahl wrote, and he was sitting on her bed, teaching her how to build animals out of pipe cleaners, when he noticed that she had trouble coordinating her fingers’ movements.

“‘Are you feeling all right?’ I asked her.”

“‘I feel all sleepy,’ she said.”

“In 1 hour she was unconscious. In 12 hours she was dead.”

That happened in 1962, 1 year before the measles vaccine was developed. The virus had caused Olivia’s brain to swell—an often-fatal complication called measles encephalitis. Dahl wrote the letter for the Sandwell Health Authority in the United Kingdom in 1986, hoping it would help persuade parents to vaccinate their children. The letter began circulating again in 2015, when a large measles outbreak that began at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, sickened more than 100 children.

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2 comments on “Can skeptical parents be persuaded to vaccinate?

  • I’ve seen doctors that won’t take patients that haven’t been vaccinated. The schools require a vaccination record for all students before enrolling them. I’ve never seen a child care center that doesn’t have the same requirement.

    Where are all the unvaccinated hiding? None of them go to school, or they’ve all got legit exemptions?

    -scratches head-



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  • @Sean_W

    Where are all the vaccinated hiding? None of them go to school, or they’ve all got legit exemptions?

    In my country Byron Bay a nice seaside area of exquisite natural beauty host of many a folk festival and home to a great many anti-vaccine nut jobs. Latest figures have just over 60% of children under 5 vaccinated in that town. These people believe in all sorts of other natural remedy nonsense. Hippy idiots who give the left a bad name (note* I have no issue with Hippys who believe in science – but many are convinced by this nonsense).

    Federal Governments just need to clamp down, unless these people have specific medical reasons for not being vaccinated then they should be excluded from public schools at the least. This is a genuine case of beliefs causing genuine threat to public health and should be tolerated no more than speeding break and enter or any other threat to public well being. Fortunately there have been some moves in this direction from our otherwise fairly weak willed government here.



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