You can probably name off the top of your head a friend who hates some random food, can’t you? Maybe it’s tomatoes, or brussel sprouts, or possibly pickles. You might have another who has an irrational aversion to the feeling of something — foam rubber, or latex, or the texture of tapioca pudding.
And likely, you know of another person who absolutely stands against the concept of vaccination. And you’ve heard about it.
But if you think about it, can you really identify that friend of yours who likes tomatoes or pickles? Probably not, because there are too many of them.
Do you hear often about that person who tolerates the feeling of foam? Probably not, because that wouldn’t be something we’d brag about on Facebook.
And can you name among your friends the ones who vaccinate their kids? With any luck, there are too many of them, too.
The contrarians tend to make waves. They tend to argue, they tend to highlight their grievances, and they tend to take issue with whatever the issue is at hand.
But today, Immunize Nevada is asking you to make waves about something very common. The anti-vax movement has a lot of faces — people you know, perhaps those in your neighborhood or social group. You can readily identify them.
Now we want to be able to readily identify the masses among us who support vaccination.
You see, here’s the deal: Measles is back in this country, and likely back in this community. It shouldn’t be, but it is. With a vaccine that is between 97 and 99 percent effective, the only way this insidious disease has gained a foothold is because of a very entrenched and vocal minority who are making the decision not to vaccinate.
We know these people. We go to school with them, sit across the table from them on lunch hours, watch our kids’ soccer games together.
So instead of focusing on the negative here — on trying to convince a subset of the population that probably won’t be convinced — let’s focus on the positive.
There are so many of us who vaccinate. And we want you to put a face — your beautiful faces, and the faces of those you want to protect — to the “I proudly vaccinate” movement.
So join us, won’t you? We have started a small grassroots campaign to encourage a strong show of force about vaccinations. We want to proudly glow about our pro-vaccination beliefs and celebrate the inspiration for our decisions.
Kelly Wallace, CNN’s digital correspondent and editor-at-large, underscored the need for positive messaging in her “Open letter to parents: Why you should vaccinate your children”:
“Saying ‘you should vaccinate’ doesn’t work,” she wrote. “But the message that parents should vaccinate their children, a message that has been growing louder and louder in recent weeks, doesn’t necessarily seem to be working, all of the experts I spoke with said. Telling parents what they should do may just have them dig their heels in deeper in their anti-vaccine approach to their children.
“What’s needed, said Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, is more conversation parent to parent.”
And that’s exactly what we’re trying to do.
So here’s our idea: Take a picture of you, your family, someone near and dear to you in the community.
And post it on the Immunize Nevada Facebook page (Facebook.com/immunizenevada) with the hashtags of #IAmTheWhy and #RenoMomsBlog.
Or post it to your own page, and please tag Immunize Nevada and Reno Moms Blog in the post.
So what does #IAmTheWhy mean? Consider the question, “Why vaccinate?”
And then consider the power of the answers represented in the faces you post.
Your family, your friends, your loved ones — we’re assuming — are most likely the “why” to you.
You’re protecting them in your decision to vaccinate. And also, through the power of something wonderful called community or herd immunity, you’re also protecting those around you, most importantly those who are too young or sick to vaccinate themselves.
So please, join us. Post pictures to our page with the hashtag #IAmTheWhy, and then your friends and family benefit by seeing these smiling, serious or silly mugs, and they get to think about why vaccination might be important.
And then we put a very powerful and beautiful face to something that should be common — the decision to vaccinate.
And thank you for joining us in this effort to create a positive way to celebrate something many of us take for granted: the power of vaccinations.
Heidi Parker is the mother of a twelve year old and the director of Immunize Nevada. Heidi leads and engages a diverse coalition of staff, volunteers, member organizations and funders so they are passionate about vaccines and access to preventive health care across Nevada’s rural, urban and frontier communities. Bringing 19 years of experience in nonprofit program management, fundraising and marketing, she has dedicated her career to being able to affect her community in a positive way, whether working with Head Start families, victims of violence, college students or Nevadans needing immunizations. Heidi recently gave a Tedx UNR speech about the HPV Vaccine.