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The anti-vaccination movement and resistance to allergen-immunotherapy: a guide for clinical allergists

Jason Behrmann

Author Affiliations

Programmes de bioéthique & Département de médecine sociale et préventive Faculté de médecine, Université de Montréal Pav. Margeurite d'Youville (7e étage) C.P. 6128, succursale centre-ville Montréal (Québec), H3C 3J7, Canada

Allergy, Asthma & Clinical Immunology 2010, 6:26  doi:10.1186/1710-1492-6-26

Published: 15 September 2010


Despite over a century of clinical use and a well-documented record of efficacy and safety, a growing minority in society questions the validity of vaccination and fear that this common public health intervention is the root-cause of severe health problems. This article questions whether growing public anti-vaccine sentiments might have the potential to spill-over into other therapies distinct from vaccination, namely allergen-immunotherapy. Allergen-immunotherapy shares certain medical vernacular with vaccination (e.g., allergy shots, allergy vaccines), and thus may become "guilty by association" due to these similarities. Indeed, this article demonstrates that anti-vaccine websites have begun unduly discrediting this allergy treatment regimen. Following an explanation of the anti-vaccine movement, the article aims to provide guidance on how clinicians can respond to patient fears towards allergen-immunotherapy in the clinical setting. This guide focuses on the provision of reliable information to patients in order to dispel misconceived associations between vaccination and allergen-immunotherapy, and the discussion of the risks and benefits of both therapies in order to assist patients in making autonomous decisions about their choice of allergy treatment.