In 2019, even before COVID-19 brought the world to its knees, the World Health Organization identified vaccine hesitancy as one of the top-10 global health threats.
According to a survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, 16.3 percent of American adults report having some level of hesitancy to getting the COVID-19 vaccine (as of August 2021), and that number skyrockets to over 25 percent in states with the highest level of hesitancy. One of the main causes of this hesitancy, regardless of vaccination type, is misinformation spread by a growing movement of vaccine deniers, or anti-vaxxers.
Now as COVID-19 has been declared “over” as a global health emergency, we can still see the effects of vaccine hesitancy in many places. Essential health services have failed to reach pre-pandemic levels, including routine immunizations which have sustained the largest decline in childhood vaccinations in three decades.
The truth is immunizations prevent 4 to 5 million deaths each year and need to be defended. So, how can you join the fight for vaccines? There are many ways to do your part, from educating friends who have misconceptions about vaccinations, to volunteering at local immunization drives, to dedicating your life’s work to vaccine research in a public health career. Keep reading to see how you can take action, make a difference, and become a champion for vaccines.
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How to Have Productive Conversations with Anti-Vaxxers & Vaccine Hesitant Parents
Most of us know at least someone who is suspicious of vaccines, maybe even a relative or close friend. Doctors and medical professionals see many patients who are wary of vaccinations as well. How do we productively convince them that not getting vaccinations themselves or for their kids is the real danger? It can feel overwhelming to counter the sheer amount of misinformation out there today, but several effective methods exist. Take a look at some of the following strategies for talking to and educating anti-vaxxers and vaccine hesitant parents.
Public Health & Medical Careers Where You Can Champion Vaccines
Ready to make a career out of advocating for vaccines and make a positive difference every day? Regardless of your professional interests, there are plenty of opportunities– from direct patient care positions to jobs in scientific research, community outreach, public policy, and beyond. Some pro-vaccine careers require only a high school diploma while others require a doctorate, providing options at every educational level. We highlight just a few of the possible career paths in this section.
Where to Find Pro-Vaccine Employers
If working for an employer whose core tenets support the promotion and advancement of immunizations, look no further than the federal agencies, nonprofits, and private corporations highlighted below.
The CDC serves as an impartial and science-backed government agency that does much to conduct and publicize research, dispel factual inaccuracies, and educate citizens on vaccination and immunization news. Positions exist for researchers, health educators, data analysts, and immunologists, amongst others.
WHO operates as an international education and advocacy group on myriad health issues, including the importance of vaccinations. The group organizes the World Immunization Week and develops the Global Vaccine Action Plan, among other activities. It also provides a wide range of internships and job opportunities.
In addition to providing access to vaccinations the world over, the American Red Cross created the Measles & Rubella Initiative and works to educate populations on the benefits of vaccinations. Jobs include positions as biostatisticians, vaccine researchers, public health informatics specialists, and more.
Merck currently provides eight vaccines which cover diseases such as MMR, human papillomavirus, Ebola Zaire, and Hepatitis B, among others. Plenty of research and development positions exist, as do roles concerned with public health informatics, immunology, and lobbying.
Another pharmaceutical corporation, Pfizer manufactures several vaccines and is currently focusing its R&D efforts on vaccines for pneumococcal and meningococcal diseases. The group emphasizes providing global impact by offering immunizations to developing countries the world over.
The United Nations Children’s Fund works in more than 190 countries to support children and adolescents through a variety of programs, including inoculations. The group is currently working to eradicate polio and develop immunization programs in more than 150 countries. Both domestic and global roles are available.
Operating as an international medical humanitarian organization, Doctors Without Borders seeks to help those who are most in need. DWB provides emergency response during outbreaks, introduces new vaccines to impoverished populations, books basic preventive vaccine programs, and works to prevent outbreaks across the lifespan.
The Center for Vaccine Awareness and Research serves as a resource for specialists, immunologists, practitioners, and researchers by providing an expanded set of information about the benefits of immunization. Individuals working at this center possess skills in vaccine research, infectious diseases, pediatrics, and adolescent medicine.
Operating out of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, IVAC works to accelerate access to life-saving vaccines across the globe while also providing valuable research on efficacy. The group currently works in 38 countries and seeks immunization professionals across the spectrum who want to work in domestic and global posts.
The NFID focuses on three areas: infectious diseases, immunization, and antibiotic resistance. Users can find valuable insight and research, information on the rise of measles and pneumococcal diseases, reports, and other services.
7 Simple Ways to Advocate for Vaccinations in Your Community and Beyond
If you want to advocate for vaccinations but don’t have a ton of time, there are still plenty of ways to pitch in and make a difference. Here are 10 ideas to get you started.
Additional Pro-Vaccine Resources
Many resources exist to help spread the word about the importance of vaccines, educate skeptics, and stay up-to-date on industry news.
- Talking to Parents About Vaccines
Use this resource to learn more about how to help vaccine-hesitate parents understand the importance of immunizations.
- How to Respond to Vocal Vaccine Deniers in Public
WHO provides this best practice guide on how to successfully engage vaccine deniers in beneficial ways.
- How Do Vaccines Help Babies Fight Infections?
The CDC shares several helpful videos on YouTube explaining the value of vaccinations for babies and children.
- 10 Facts on Immunization
The World Health Organization provides 10 quick facts with graphics to underscore the global crisis related to lack of vaccinations.
- Common Questions About Immunizations
KidsHealth answers some of the most frequently asked questions about inoculations in this helpful article.
- Immunization Action Coalition
The IAC offers a wealth of free resources to educate yourself and others.
- Immunologist Interviews
Immunopaedia provides monthly interviews with immunologists to give you a glimpse into what this fascinating career entails.
- Understanding How Vaccines Work
Even if you’re pro-vaccine, you may still wonder exactly how they protect against diseases. The CDC provides easy-to-understand answers.
- Immunization Memes and Resources to Share
The American Academy of Pediatrics provides a library of helpful graphs and memes to use when sharing information about vaccines online.