The Next Generation

childrens-handsAs a parent I try to pass along life lessons to my children.  I know that at some point my children will choose their own paths and make their own decisions, but obviously I teach them in hopes that they will accept and one day practice what I preach.  As a first time Mom to a four-year-old, I am constantly surprised at just how perceptive and intuitive a Pre-K student can be.  Things that I thought would go straight over his head have often turned into long and even meaningful discussions.  I have quickly come to realize that children learn many important and lasting lessons far sooner in life than I would have ever imagined.

This concept is actually reason for concern when I consider the number of parents who have become part of the anti-vaccine movement.  As the number of vaccine hesitant/resistant parents increases so does the number of children being raised to fear, question, and to one day potentially reject the life-saving power of vaccines.  While I do believe that these parents believe they are doing what is best for their children, the truth is the science simply does not back their misguided views.  Study after study has dispelled myths ranging from an association between vaccines and autism, the flu shot causing the flu, to a list of other debunked misconceptions.

So what could potentially come from this up-and-coming generation of children should they choose to believe the misinformation they are being taught?  According to Dr. Paul Offit, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases and the director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the consequences are already being seen.  According to his experience we are already seeing preventable childhood deaths and community outbreaks of outdated diseases.   Dr. Offit goes on to speak a frightening truth about anti-vaccine parents saying

“They have a belief that is nonfalsifiable.  It’s a belief system.  There is no data that could ever convince them that they are incorrect.”

Basically, their minds cannot be changed.  So what can we do?  We must educate, educate, educate.  As the children of the anti-vaccine movement grow I believe it is important that we put our time and resources to good use.  I’m not an expert.  I don’t know if there is one right answer, but what I do know is that we all need to do our part to spread the message that vaccines save lives.   We need to better educate people of all ages.  We need to open people’s eyes to the devastation and loss that was once part of the world before the use of vaccines.   People need to know and understand the scientifically proven truth instead of believing the gossip and rumors that are just a click away.

It’s never too early, or too late, to teach a life lesson.  Help educate those around you about the importance of vaccination.  Your words may help to ensure the health and safety of the next generation.

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