Parental Immunity (to Education) and Vaccine Decision-Making

A recent NY Times editorial by the lead author of a provocative study in Pediatrics (Published online March 3, 2014  (doi: 10.1542/peds.2013-2365) argues that educational efforts to inform parents may not improve vaccination rates in children.

Here’s a link:  and here’s an excerpt:

“we found that parents with mixed or negative feelings toward vaccines actually became less likely to say they would vaccinate a future child after receiving information debunking the myth that vaccines cause autism.

Surprising as this may seem, our finding is consistent with a great deal of research on how people react to their beliefs being challenged. People frequently resist information that contradicts their views, such as corrective information— for example, by bringing to mind reasons to maintain their belief — and in some cases actually end up believing it more strongly as a result….

A more promising approach would require parents to consult with their health care provider, as the Oregon law also allows them to do. Parents name their children’s doctor as their most trusted source of vaccine information. That trust might allow doctors to do what evidence alone cannot: persuade parents to protect their children as well as yours and mine.

Related blog posts:

Save a life with free allergy education

Food allergy affects 4-8% of children and allergic reactions can be fatal.  In fact, the main cause of poor outcome with accidental food allergy exposure is delay in the use of epinephrine.  To improve parental knowledge and overall management of food allergies, a group of allergists, nurses and dieticians has developed and validated educational materials (J Pediatr 2012; 160: 651-6).  In addition, they have made these materials available at no cost online:

To validate their materials, the authors enrolled 60 parents of newly referred children with a prior food allergy.  The measured outcome was demonstration of an autoinjector for epinephrine.  The correct number of steps in the use of the autoinjector increased from a 3.4 to 5.95 score (max score 6).  In addition, at 1 year, the score remained high, 5.47.  Knowledge tests improved as well: from 9.2 to 12.4 (out of 15); at one year, the score was 12.7.  On a practical basis, the frequency of allergic reactions was reduced as well.  The annualized allergic reaction rate dropped from 1.77 (historical data) to 0.42 after the instruction.

The article also relates that some of the material relied on previous educational material, in particular the food allergy emergency plan available from the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (

Materials available include information on specific allergic disorders, avoiding allergens, management in and outside home, and living a safe/healthy life.  In addition, an educational video is available.

Additional references:

  • -Bock SA et al. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2007; 119: 1016-8. Poor outcome with accidental food allergy exposure is delay in the use of epinephrine.
  • -J Pediatr 2011; 158: 578.  Oral food challenges allowed 84% to return foods to diet.  n=125.
  • -Clin Gastro & Hep 2010; 8: 755.  Review of food allergy (vs intolerance) in adults.  Gives list of hypoallergenic diet , pg 758.
  • -Pediatrics 2009; 124: 1549-55.  3.9% of US kids w food allergy.  Nat’l surveys.
  • -NEJM 2008; 359: 1252 Review. Usual age of resolution: eggs  @ 7yr (75%), milk @ 5yr (76%); wheat/soy -rarely cause IgE-mediated allergies 80% resolve by 5yrs>  More  persistent allergens:  peanuts/tree nuts/sesame seeds = persistent in 80-90% at 5yrs, fish = persistent.
  • -Pediatrics 2003; 111: 1591-1680.  (supplement) Pediatric Good Allergy symposium
  • -Pediatrics 2003; 111:829-835. Infants c food-induced enterocolitis often have multiple food allergies (cereal, veggie, poultry, meat)  IgE based tests are negative (skin prick & IgE Abs
  • -Gastroenterology 2001; 120: 1023-25; 1026-40.  AGA position paper; technical review.
  • -J Allergy Clin Immmunol 1999; 103: 717-728 &981-9.  Pathogenesis &  Dx/ mgt.