Tell, don’t ask when it comes to vaccination

Posted on: 4:20 pm, November 4, 2013, by , updated on: 04:50pm, November 6, 2013

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — After more than 40 years as a pediatrician, Dr. Kenneth Wible of Children’s Mercy Hospital knows what to say to parents about immunizations.

“Jina is due for a flu vaccine today,” Dr. Wible said to Carmen Hinojos, mother of Jina.

Dr. Wible says by using language that presumes the child is going to get vaccinated, “People will hesitate to disappoint you and they’ll just go along with it.”

But even Dr. Wible is surprised by how much of a difference it makes. In a new study in the journal “Pediatrics,” doctors made a statement like “Well, we have to do some shots.” Or they gave the parents more latitude by saying “What do you want to do about shots?” When they gave latitude, eight out of 10 parents resisted the doctor’s recommendations compared to only one in four when the doctor presumed the parents wanted vaccination.

In the study, doctors continue to push vaccination when parents resisted. Dr. Wible disagrees with that approach. Instead, he asks parents about their concerns.

“If I get them to trust me, pretty soon they’ll say ‘Well, let’s give them just one,’” said the pediatrician.

He says over time, they’ll agree to more vaccinations.

Hinojos said she has no problem with the doctor saying Jina is going to get a vaccine.

“If that’s what the doctor recommends, it’s for a reason. I don’t mind it,” said Hinojos.

And the reason? Dr. Wible says there’s nothing more important in health care than vaccinations in keeping children well.

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