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When it comes to vaccines - why are people talking about 'Disease is not serious' ?

Diseases are perceived as mild or even positive for child development and the immune system

People often have a distorted perception of the risk that they or others face from a disease. Specifically, people may perceive that the risk from a disease is low or inconsequential. This can motivate their belief that they don’t need a vaccine or that the drawbacks outweigh the benefits of vaccination. A misperception of disease risk has been found to be related to hesitant attitudes towards vaccination.

One of the reasons that people underestimate the risk from diseases is that vaccines have been so successful. It’s easy to misperceive that the risk from a preventable disease is low when few people, if any, suffer from that disease.

This theme dismisses the severity of the disease. Arguments in this theme may claim the disease:

  • Is not dangerous.
  • Has low risk of complication.
  • Is just a minor infection.
  • Is positive for child development and the immune system.

Overall, the disease is not perceived as a health concern warranting vaccination.

Is there any truth in it?

Since most people do not have regular contact with vaccine-preventable diseases, they may not fear these diseases. People also experience diseases differently, but people tend to think their personal experience of the disease is the norm. So someone who had a mild version of the disease may think it would also be mild for others.

What could I say To someone fixed on this belief?

Dialogue between patients and healthcare professionals is most productive if it is guided by empathy, and an opportunity for the patient to affirm the reasons underlying their attitudes and to express understanding for that. That’s why it is important to understand the attitude roots behind people’s overt opinions. To affirm a person’s underlying attitude root does not mean we need to agree with the specifics of their argument. For example, we can acknowledge that:

Since most people do not have regular contact with vaccine-preventable diseases, they may not fear these diseases. People also experience diseases differently, but people tend to think their personal experience of the disease is the norm. So someone who had a mild version of the disease may think it would also be mild for others.



Having set the stage through this (partial) affirmation, we can then proceed to correct the patient’s particular misconception.

A vaccine protects you against diseases and severe illness. In the worst case, disease can have fatal consequences and can lead to disability and death.

Prior to the introduction of a vaccine, as recently as 1980, measles caused more than 2.6 million deaths globally. As recently as 2006, approximately 290,000 people worldwide died from tetanus.

To date, vaccinations against polio have saved 19 million people from paralysis and 1.5 million people from death from polio. The number of polio cases worldwide has been reduced by 99.9% compared to the 1980s.

Because of vaccines, people have longer life expectancies. Vaccines help people survive.