The anti-vaccination movement has been able to grow in part because those who support vaccines have not been vocal. Those who do not support vaccinations have largely been written off as a fringe movement, and it has allowed their numbers to swell at the risk of public health.
To be sure, there are several health organizations dedicated to promoting vaccines as safe and effective. There are those out there trying to reach vaccine hesitant parents who might be unsure of who to trust. But at the parent level, we are largely only just beginning to fight back against misinformation that endangers us all.
What can one person do? Turns out, one person can do quite a lot. Here are some ideas on how to advocate for vaccines in your area.
- Speak up! Whether it’s in the Facebook comments section or in a local moms group, if you hear something wrong, say it. The people on the sidelines need to know that vaccines are safe, effective, and necessary to protect our communities.
- Write and call your state representative and senator. Let them know that you support vaccines and that you know the way to increase our vaccination rates is through the elimination of non-medical exemptions.
- Meet with your elected officials and their staff. Ask them to support a bill similar to California’s SB277. In South Carolina, we have religious exemptions, not personal or philosophical. California is not the only state to do away with non-medical exemptions. Both Mississippi and West Virginia allow only medical exemptions, and their definitions of what constitutes a medical exemption are fairly narrow. Follow up with the staffer, thanking them for the meeting and recapping your discussion.
- Write letters to the editor detailing the risks of not vaccinating, especially if you are the parent of a child or an individual who cannot be immunized.
- Find like-minded people in your area and organize campaigns to do steps 2-4 as a unit. Numbers matter to elected officials and newspaper editors. The more people who are vocal about vaccines, the more consideration your request will be given.
This list is by no means all-encompassing, and if you have other ideas, shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.