Under-vaccination is a significant policy problem. As earlier generations knew, people die of measles, and of whooping cough, and of other diseases that vaccines can prevent. Figuring out how to increase vaccination is a challenge. We often rely on education, but it is hard to change people’s minds on this topic, as doctors and policymakers — as well as any parents who have engaged on an internet message board — know all too well.
From a policy standpoint, these findings offer a ray of hope for vaccine proponents. Maybe changing minds isn’t so important. People may not have altered their attitudes about vaccination, but the fact is that these laws actually changed behavior.
In Oregon, parents can opt out of getting their children immunized by completing a 15-minute online “education” module. Many of them do: The share of people in Oregon counties with kindergarten vaccination rates over 95 percent was close to 100 percent in 2000; in 2015, it was about 30 percent. Perhaps lawmakers there and in other states should consider a more stringent exemption policy before, not after, they have their own measles outbreak.
Blogs I Follow
- “Novels are machines for falsely generating belief”… essay on fiction, by Zadie Smith in The New York Review of Books
- The Big Sleep, by Raymond Chandler
- Fiasco, by Thomas Ricks
- Adam and Allison Grant rewrite children’s books and much fiction: “Noble deed doers, you should first lecture the victims and help them help themselves more otherwise you are an enabler…”
- Great article in The New York Times about rural America and public services
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