Why do some people refuse to take the flu vaccine?
#1
Background

We are all aware of the problems caused by hardcore anti-vaxxers. But there are some softcore anti-vaxxer who are OK with the mandatory vaccines but will not take the flu shot even if it is offered free of cost and delivered at a convenient place like the office they work in.

They usually have a bunch of objections like the following.

1) There might be side effects and complications.
2) I might get flu because of the flu vaccine as the vaccine has the virus in it.
3) I got flu-like symptoms even though I took the flu vaccine last year so I will not take it anymore.
.....

I recently tried to convince some of my friends and family to take the flu shot by pointing to the CDC website ( http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/flushot.htm ) which addresses all the typical concerns people have about the vaccine. They simply were not convinced. They were hung up on side effects and complications. The response I got from them was " I don't mind me and my kids being sick for a few days, but I will not risk my kid's life with severe complication from the vaccine." I must add that these people are decently (BS+) educated.

Questions

1) Why do educated people refuse to act responsibly even after reading the FAQ from CDC?

2) What is missing in the CDC FAQ? Can you think of anything else that if added to the FAQ might convince these people?

3) Why is that they (softcore anti-vaxxers) trust the mandatory vaccines but not the flu vaccine?

I have been scratching my head for a while on these questions. Anyone got any ideas.
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#2
1. I believe that some ideas are hard embedded and require a concerted effort to address. It could simply be an event where if information is disagreeable to their worldview they try to reason it away.

2. No comment can be made. The CDC cannot unequivocally state the vaccine will 100% prevent the flu from striking and cannot completely the remote possibility that some sort of negative outcome like fever or a severe allergic reaction can occur. Rather we should laud them that the FAQ covers what sort of mishaps could possibly occur even if the possibility of it occurring is marginally slim.

3. Could be misinformation or a risk-gambling analysis. Something, perhaps along the line of
"If I get bit by a vampire bat, I need the rabies injection because if I don't get a shot within 48 hours, I will DIE. Same with getting scraped by a rusty pipe. I need the tetanus shot, else I will die. There may be an off chance that I might have some sort of problem with that vaccine, but the prospect of death is far worse, so I'll take my chances. On the other hand, a flu isn't such a big deal; I'll just be wheezy and sneezy for a week, some Vitamin C, chicken soup, Zinc and caffeine tablets, bed rest and I'll be fine. The vaccine might not even do anything to stop me from catching the flu anyway...and there is the chance that I may be allergic to something, so why risk it? A week's flu versus a serious complication? Screw it, I'll take wheezy and sneezy!".

That's my two cents on the situation anyway. Huh
"It's alright, I rarely meet anyone who's able to read it properly. Although personally, I never thought that it to be an odd of a name. Once I give people the pronunciation, they tend to remember my name by easily associating me with it. A unique face, a unique moniker."
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#3
Lack of knowledge, general distrust of science and doctors (the big-pharma conspiracy).
And preference to 'natural' , the same reasons people avoid surgeries and seek herbal alternatives.

Ofcourse there is a lot of misinformation and scare-mongering around, but I think all that is motivated by and capitalizes on above points.
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#4
Nick87,

I agree with your #1 and #3. On #2, I agree that CDC has to be truthful but could the same information be presented in a different way and may be some more information is added such that people are nudged to do a slightly different risk-reward analysis resulting in a larger fraction of them taking the flu shot.
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#5
Quote:There may be an off chance that I might have some sort of problem with that vaccine, but the prospect of death is far worse, so I'll take my chances. On the other hand, a flu isn't such a big deal; I'll just be wheezy and sneezy for a week
Oh didn't really think of that before, I guess that explains a lot.

I think one improvement that can be done is a little more detail , about risks, chances of allergies, and chances of contracting even despite a vaccine, an infographic maybe? instead of just textual data.
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#6
(05-Mar-2013, 11:46 PM)nick87 Wrote: ....The vaccine might not even do anything to stop me from catching the flu anyway...and there is the chance that I may be allergic to something, so why risk it? A week's flu versus a serious complication? Screw it, I'll take wheezy and sneezy!

Yes, that is pretty much the argument I heard from my friend. Further discussion along expected lines is presented as a dialogue below.

Me: But it is possible to die of the flu if you are not healthy to begin with. So it might make sense to take the shot.

Friend: But I am fairly healthy so I will not die of the flu. I will just be down for a week.

Me: Yes, but you might spread the flu to someone who did not take the flu shot and who is not healthy to begin with. And this person might die.

Friend: Whose mistake is that? May be this person should have taken the flu shot. It is his responsibility.

Me: But then there might come a time when you are that person. You might be old and unhealthy and forgot/unable to take the flu shot.


But by this time my friend lost interest in the discussion either because he could not follow the line of argument or was just willing to take the chance that he will not end up being that person.

What else could be said to change this person's mind?
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#7
Quote:What else could be said to change this person's mind?

Nothing else. YOU take the shots and stay away from him. then convince any high-risk individuals who he may be in contact with to take their shots without fail.
"It's alright, I rarely meet anyone who's able to read it properly. Although personally, I never thought that it to be an odd of a name. Once I give people the pronunciation, they tend to remember my name by easily associating me with it. A unique face, a unique moniker."
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#8
http://news.discovery.com/human/health/w...130114.htm

http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Ado...ne.0052814

Nice article (comments section is hilarious) and a paper on multi player simulation study on the same topic.

Relevant part from the abstract of the paper.

Quote:The analysis shows that people's behavior is responsive to the cost of self-protection, the reported prevalence of disease, and their experiences earlier in the epidemic. Specifically, decreasing the cost of self-protection increases the rate of safe behavior. Higher reported prevalence also raises the likelihood that individuals would engage in self-protection, where the magnitude of this effect depends on how much time has elapsed in the epidemic. Individuals' experiences in terms of how often an infection was acquired when they did not engage in self-protection are another factor that determines whether they will invest in preventive measures later on. All else being equal, individuals who were infected at a higher rate are more likely to engage in self-protective behavior compared to those with a lower rate of infection. Lastly, fixing everything else, people's willingness to engage in safe behavior waxes or wanes over time, depending on the severity of an epidemic: when prevalence is high, people are more likely to adopt self-protective measures as time goes by; when prevalence is low, a ‘self-protection fatigue’ effect sets in whereby individuals are less willing to engage in safe behavior over time.
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