Follow Your Heart: Vaccine Stories That Make an Impact

When talking with vaccine-hesitant friends or relatives, it’s tempting to list and cite the overwhelming evidence that vaccines are safe, effective, and vital to public health. But for many, this is an emotional issue, not a scientific one. Acknowledging and addressing the emotional side of the vaccination conversation (in addition to the cold, hard science) can go a long way in demonstrating to our loved ones how important immunizations are. Here’s how:   

Choose Your Facts Carefully
The facts overwhelmingly state that vaccines are safe and effective, but it’s important to be judicious when choosing facts to make your case. The goal should be to make this issue personal. A study about vaccine safety isn’t as likely to be effective as, say, the number of deaths vaccines prevent each year, or the infant mortality rate before the advent of modern vaccines. By using data about the human impact of vaccinations, you’ll touch their brain and their hearts.

Tell a Story
Stories are one of the best methods to bring life to the data and statistics. By going past the logical parts of our brain, a compelling story can often be more convincing than any study. Stories of individuals and families affected by vaccine-preventable diseases—like those available on ShotByShot.Org— can be powerful arguments in your favor. Stories can linger in people’s minds long after they’ve forgotten the scientific sound bites.

Provide Photos
Another great way to help facilitate an emotional tie-in? Pictures. Descriptions of the symptoms of measles are unlikely to sway opinions, but a picture of the red eyes and rashes it causes might make someone think twice. The CDC has a section on its website devoted to photos showing the damage vaccine-preventable diseases can cause.

Give Them a Solution
An emotional appeal works best when it can be paired with a simple action; luckily, vaccines provide just that. Once you’ve chosen which facts to highlight, and provided stories and photographs to augment those facts, it’s time to present the “call to action”:  Get up to date on your vaccine schedule as soon as possible!

2015 Year in Review: TIP’s Top Accomplishments

Screen Shot 2015-12-16 at 2.30.47 PMAs we move into 2016, we take a look back on The Immunization Partnership’s amazing year. Thanks to the support of people like you, we were able to advocate, educate, and pass immunization-related legislation like never before. Here are some of our favorite accomplishments from the last 12 months. 

Remember: We want to do more work like this in 2015, but we need your help! Donate here!  

We Got The Message Out
Digital or analog, TIP reached Texans wherever they were in 2015.  Our online presence was up 139 percent from 2014 and 883 percent from 2013; plus, almost 4,500 people were reached through in-person, science-based presentations regarding vaccination. We had press releases, op-eds and interviews appear in outlets with national profiles, like the Houston Chronicle and the Washington Post.  Our message—vaccines are vital to public health—was heard like never before.

We Passed Important Legislation
Our biennial TIP Day at the Capitol was a massive success. Forty-two vaccine advocates from across Texas came to Austin and received advocacy training. Then they hit the halls, sharing their knowledge and concerns with Texas lawmakers. Thanks to their hard work, TIP successfully passed two pieces of immunization-related legislation in the 84th legislature.

We Helped Prevent HPV
Here at TIP, we know what a breakthrough the vaccine for Human Papillomavirus is. The virus can cause cancer in both men and women; we’ll do everything we can to prevent it. HPV vaccination rates in Texas are alarmingly low, so we hosted two Lunch and Learns to educate medical professionals on advocating for the vaccine. We’re thrilled to empower medical professionals to help those in their community.

We Helped Lay the Groundwork to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases
When we weren’t busy helping Texans receive essential vaccinations, we were pushing into the next frontier of the vaccination movement. In July, we hosted a webinar on Neglected Tropical Diseases—deadly diseases that disproportionately affect low-income areas at home and abroad, many of which are not yet vaccine-preventable. Dr. Peter Hotez explained the work that’s being done, the work that still needs to be done, and what we as immunization advocates can do to help.

We Let Loose!
And we know how to have fun! Our Golf, Glamour & Games of Chance fundraiser—held at Top Golf in Houstonlet participants master their swing at the driving range and test their luck with blackjack and poker. We all got to see Houston artist Taft McWhorter create an original work on the spot, that was then auctioned off to a lucky guest. The best part? All proceeds went to our mission of vaccine education and advocacy.

We want to do more work like this in 2015, but we need your help! Donate now (and write it off on your 2015 taxes). 

For more information about TIP’s programs and events, check out our website: www.immunizeUSA.org

Holiday Survival Guide: How to Talk about Vaccines with Vaccine-Hesitant Relatives

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No one wants a holiday ruined with a big argument, but if you have a vaccine-hesitant relative, it’s hard to let the comments slide. So, how can you be a vaccine advocate and keep the peace around the table? Follow these steps to engage your vaccine-hesitant relatives and still make it to dessert in one piece.

Set realistic goals
It’s important to know just how vaccine hesitant your relatives are. Is your cousin just having a few doubts? Or is your aunt dead-set on keeping her kids unvaccinated? Knowing where your relatives stand will help you keep your goals realistic. You might not be able to reverse someone’s opinion in one night; understanding that will save everyone some headaches. If someone’s mind is not going to change, the goal should be to keep the door open for future discussions.

Have a discussion, not an argument
And the word discussion is key. Attacking your brother for his opinion doesn’t make for a pleasant holiday or effective vaccine advocacy. Asking open-ended questions (that will guide them towards a pro-vaccine standpoint) will make your relatives feel respected and appreciated—and ultimately more receptive to your message.

Be armed with relevant, high-quality information
Try to find out what your relatives’ vaccine concerns are beforehand. That way, you can prepare information that is targeted towards their worries. Is there a specific vaccine they have issues with? Research its safety, efficacy, and side effects. Is there a certain vaccine myth they find especially compelling? Understand where the misconception comes from and what the truth of the matter is. If you address their specific concerns, they will know that they’re being listened to; that way everyone’s less likely to lose their temper.

Be armed with emotionally compelling stories
Consider telling the story of Megan, a young mother, who took her baby to the pediatrician—where the infant caught measles in the waiting room. A routine doctors visit (to protect her child’s health) turned into a painful battle with a preventable disease. This is an emotional issue for many, and stories like Megan’s can be just as helpful as accurate science in convincing vaccine hesitant individuals. In addition to reliable info, ShotByShot.Org has a number of personal stories that show how real people are affected by vaccine-preventable diseases.

Keep your cool
These conversations can be frustrating. You might not be able to convince your relatives of much, and it can be hard not to get angry when that happens. But blowing up at your relatives will not only make for a tense celebration, it can also leave them even more entrenched in their position than they were before. Showing that you know what you’re talking about, can have a calm discussion, and share some cranberry sauce with them? That might get you somewhere.

Have you had these conversations with your friends and family? What strategies, studies, or stories have you found the most helpful? Share your experiences in the comments below!

Read more about vaccine myths and advocacy:

Protect Those Who Can’t Get Vaccinated: A Holiday-Season Guide

Skipping the Flu Shot? We Bust the Top Excuses

Separating Fact From Fiction: 4 Signs an Immunization Site Is Spreading Misinformation

8 Excuses for Skipping the HPV Vaccine: Debunked