Vaccination saves lives.
Yet, resistance to immunization has become entrenched in some sociodemographic strata. Wealthy, educated liberals who care about organic food and "natural" products among them.
Under-immunization of school-aged children in turn has led to outbreaks of measles and other transmissible infections, and contributes to thousands of preventable influenza deaths in children each year.
It's not enough to tout the benefits of vaccines, and then stand back with syringe in hand. Potential vaccines want to know vaccines are safe, and hear misconceptions about the low risks of vaccines. A seminal article by my Dartmouth colleague Brendan Nyhan showed that trying to disabuse vaccine skeptics of their misconception too may fail.
Many states and countries are piloting various incentive programs designed to enhance immunization rates without engaging in potentially polarizing debate. From making immunizations mandatory to attend school to linking welfare benefits to vaccine receipt and even straight up cash incentives, lots of experiments are happening. Some of them even work.
Check out this great article by Susan Scutti of CNN and its accompanying video. I was proud to be quoted in it.