A doctor made up a conspiracy theory in order to persuade an anti-vaxxer to vaccinate her child – and it worked.
Although vaccinations are one of the most cost-effective ways to avoid and prevent disease, many are failing to vaccinate their children due to a mistrust of the medicine.
Enter: the anti-vaxx movement, which has become a growing trend in recent years after hovering in the background for quite some time.
So much so that doctors often struggle to persuade anti-vaxxers to protect their children against harmful (but preventable) diseases, regardless of how much scientific logic they try to reason with.
Hence why one doctor made the decision to make up a conspiracy theory to convince one mum who was refusing to vaccinate her one-year-old child to do so.
In a Reddit post which asked doctors to share their stories of encounters with anti-vaxx parents, one person’s response stood out from the rest.
Reddit user _Haliax_ – a fourth year medical student – reminisced about a time when they were completing a rotation in pediatrics and encountered a ‘classic anti-vaccination parent’.
The medical student explained how the woman was ‘a conspiracy theory magnet’ who chose not to vaccinate her child because she ‘loved the idea of the vaccine conspiracy’.
The post continued:
I relayed all of this to my attending after my exam (I would see the patient first, gather history and do my exam to present to my attending physician). He got this sort of lazy smirk on his face that screamed ‘watch this’.
We go back into the exam room and we cover all of the important bits of a well-child encounter. Growth charts, behavioral milestones, nutrition, sleep…
And then we get to vaccines. She lists approximately 15 reasons why vaccines are more dangerous than the disease they protect against (lol) in addition to the various evils of the pharmaceutical industry.
Then comes the kicker: once the mum had finished talking about vaccinations, the doctor interjected with a made-up conspiracy theory which made her question her entire beliefs.
The doctor said to the mum, as per the Reddit post:
Have you considered the possibility that anti-vaccine propaganda could be an attempt by the Russians or the Chinese to weaken the health of the United States population?
After which the parent eventually agreed to a modified vaccine schedule, with the medical student saying that although the end result was ‘amazing’, they still weren’t sure whether the medical ethics of the situation were totally palatable.
Clearly, it’s questionable whether the doctor should have lied to the parent about such an important topic.
However, although there was no truth in his fake conspiracy theory, it can’t be denied vaccines prevent avoidable deaths and must be given to children to protect both themselves and the health of others.
We’ve seen what happens when parents don’t vaccinate their children; measles cases double globally, major outbreaks of preventable diseases bring cities to a halt, and ultimately, childrens’ lives are put at risk.
Vaccination is key.
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A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).