Hero. What comes to mind when you hear this word? A muscled, caped-crusader? A masked vigilante? Maybe someone defeating the bad guy with a BAM! or a POW! But as the adage goes, not all heroes wear masks. And sometimes protecting the innocent has more to do with words said than punches thrown.
We at MOMmunizations wanted to highlight those we consider to be heroes in the world of vaccination by inviting them to share their story as part of our Immunization Heroes series.
Dr. Peter Hotez talked about his time as a young scientist in the laboratory, working hard to lay the groundwork for a future vaccine against hookworm. His path led him to become one of the foremost voices in the development of vaccines for neglected tropical diseases, and a global spokesperson for the promotion of vaccination.
Dorit Reiss shared her story of how stumbling across a comment on a blog set the course for her to become an advocate for science-based information regarding immunization online. And through her blog, she has become a voice for those affected by vaccine-preventable diseases.
Both have faced harsh criticism for being vocal about the need for (and science supporting) vaccination. But that hasn’t stopped them from continuing to use their voice to advocate on behalf of immunization.
And they’re not alone.
Healthcare professionals that ensure their patients receive the proper vaccines on time, and public health professionals working to make certain everyone has access to vaccination, are heroes, too. They are all working toward the same goal – improving the health of our communities and our kids.
As a parent with a child under one year of age, these heroes are invaluable. Spreading the truth about the benefits of immunizations (and the science behind them) saves lives, and protects those too young or too sick to be vaccinated.
Immunization heroes come in many different forms, and I am grateful for all of them. But the title doesn’t just apply to scientists and physicians. YOU, as a parent, can be an immunization hero simply by sharing your support of vaccination with your friends and family. In a world as noisy as ours, sometimes it’s easy to think our voices don’t matter. But yours can. As research has shown, the attitudes and beliefs regarding vaccines in parents’ social networks can play a key role in whether or not they decide to vaccinate their kids.
So speak up. You can show your support and enthusiasm for immunizations by participating in our Proud to Be Immunized project. And by directing your friends and family to trusted, science-based resources.
How do you promote immunization in your community? Let us know! Send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org, or comment below.