Why anti-vaxxers won’t ever change their minds

PARENTS who choose not to vaccinate their children at all are "never going to change their minds", according to a psychology researcher conducting an Australia-wide study of the issue.

Dr Bronwyn Harman from Edith Cowan University in Perth is investigating the views of parents on why they choose to fully vaccinate their kids, partially vaccinate, or not at all.

Live for just six days, it has already generated 450 responses on the emotive topic.

Dr Harman has previously conducted a pilot study of non-vaccinating parents in the anti-vax hotspot of Denmark, WA and explained why they were unlikely to shift their position.

Based on that study, she said the most common reason parents refused to vaccinate their children was the belief that vaccines could be harmful.

"Vaccination is a very emotive topic because you're dealing with children's lives," Dr Harman said.

Parents also held a belief there was no research to prove the effectiveness of vaccination.

They cited a lack of evidence that vaccines worked, harboured a suspicion that the government and private industry were profiting from vaccinations, and also believed a healthy lifestyle negated the the need for immunisation.

Dr Harman said the survey showed such thinking was entrenched in the anti-vaccination community and was unlikely to change.

While she said that she was openly biased towards vaccination, the point of the study was to understand the motivations of people who felt otherwise.

"I have an opinion like everyone else, but that doesn't mean that my opinion is (automatically) right," Dr Harman said.

"I can understand that [non-vaccinators] have an opinion and a viewpoint and they deserve to be listened to without vilification.

"My overall agenda ... is understanding other people's parenting and why they parent that way."

Dr Harman said for her national study she was particularly keen to receive views from parents on both sides of the issue living in Mullumbimby, the national anti-vaccination capital.

At last count, Mullumbimby has less than 50% of children under five years old vaccinated, compared to the state average of more than 90%.

The survey is appealing to all parents of children aged four or younger, whether they are fully or partially vaccinated, or not at all.

To complete the survey go to www.tinyurl.com/vax2016

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