Every legislative session, there’s a flurry of activity. Hearings are held. Debates are had. And decisions set in motion changes that can have a profound impact on our communities, our families and even our own health. When it comes to immunization policy, it’s critical that those decisions be based on sound science and research.
Most Americans agree. The majority of us support vaccination requirements and understand the very real consequences of letting vaccination rates slip. Even still, policies regarding vaccination are rarely passed without heated discussions or commotion.
But amid the headlines and talking heads, there’s a voice missing in the conversation: yours.
We know you’re busy. You have a job, a family, a social life, hobbies – myriad competing priorities. But supporting science-based legislation doesn’t have to be hard or take up a ton of time. Here are 5 ways you can help support science-based immunization policy in your state:
- Be informed. There’s a lot of misinformation out there about what pending legislation will or won’t do. Be sure you understand what legislation is being proposed and what it will mean for you and your loved ones. If you aren’t sure where to start, try contacting your local immunization coalition. They will likely have their finger on what immunization-related legislation is being proposed and how it will impact the prevention of vaccine-preventable diseases in your state.
- Tweet at your legislators, or post on their Facebook page. It might not be as personal as a phone call or a letter, but communicating with your legislators on social media has the added benefit of being, well, social. Other people might see your messages and chime in. It’s a small action that can help gather more support for what you’re trying to accomplish and engage those who might otherwise have stayed on the sidelines.
- Write an e-mail or mail a letter to your legislators letting them know where you stand on certain immunization-related bills. If you live in Texas, you can find out who represents you by going to The Immunization Partnership’s website (there’s even a ready-made e-mail you can send in support of science-based legislation), or for those outside of Texas (but inside the U.S.), you can find out who represents you by going here. In your e-mail, be sure to share your story about how the proposed legislation will impact you and your community. You don’t have to write a lot – a few paragraphs are enough – but sending them a note is a good way to let your voice be counted.
- Make a phone call. The simple act of picking up the phone can go a long way. Often all it takes is 2-3 minutes to let your legislators and/or their staff know why it’s important for them to support science-based legislation when it comes to vaccination policy.
- Schedule a visit. It might not always be possible to visit with your legislators in person, but if you can, it can really make an impact. As former British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli said, “History is made by those who show up.” A face-to-face conversation with legislators demonstrates that you cared enough to take time out of your busy schedule to talk about these issues, and that carries a lot of weight.
If you support science-based immunization policy, please don’t stand on the side lines. Your voice matters. Make it heard.
Have anything to add to the list above? Let us know in the comments below!