2015 has been good to Voices for Vaccines, even though the year started with the Disneyland measles outbreak that spread to seven states as well as Mexico and Canada. The outbreak touched the lives of many people, including baby Mobius Loop, whose mother wrote a VFV blog post talking about his battle with measles.
But we saw the tides turning as more people became fed up with the false fears promoted by the anti-vaccine movement, and also as the media began to frame the story well. Voices for Vaccines was happy to represent the pro-vaccine majority voice in the media–the voice of the parents and others who want vaccine-preventable disease out of their communities.
In the aftermath of this outbreak, Voices for Vaccines helped connect California parents who worked on a grassroots campaign to eliminate non-medical exemptions to vaccine requirements for school entry in that state. We also continue to connect parents to the Put Kids First campaign and the Vax Advocacy portal so that advocates can come together to promote sensible vaccine legislation in their own states.
But connecting parents to policymakers and legislative activity is not the only advocacy opportunity Voices for Vaccines helped create in 2015.
Each month, Voices for Vaccines hosts a free conference call that is open to the public, and then puts the recordings of these conference calls online.
We believe that inviting all stakeholders–parents, providers, public health workers, and students–to the conversation, we can come together to make a real difference. Our conference calls in 2015 featured some of the biggest voices in the vaccine world:
- Dr. Paul Offit gave updates about the latest immunization news
- Brendan Nyhan discussed what does, and does not, change the mind of a vaccine hesitant parent
- Gretchen Chapman talked about crafting immunization policies around why people refuse vaccines
- Melody Butler discussed how nurses can be vaccine advocates
- Patsy Stinchfield gave us a behind-the-scenes look at ACIP
- Tara Haelle talked about media coverage of immunization
- Sundari Kraft and other parents revealed how parents can be involved in legislative activity concerning vaccines
Our most popular conference calls featured Dr. Paul Offit and Gretchen Chapman. If you were unable to listen to them, check out our archives and listen to the recordings! And contact us if you’d like more information about our January 7 conference call–featuring Dr. Nathan Boonstra discussing HPV vaccine uptake.
A few of our most loyal members, including Nurses Who Vaccinate’s Melody Butler, helped us create our All About That Vax video, which went gangbusters on YouTube and can be seen in a few pediatric waiting rooms. How have you used our video to spread enthusiasm about speaking up for immunization?
Our toolkits make advocacy easy, and emphasize that advocacy is more than just engaging in social media and writing your legislators (although those forms of advoacy are crucial!).
- Our False Balance Toolkit helps anyone become a media watchdog by giving advoactes the information they need to spot poor reporting about immunizations and the language they need to contact a reporter and protest the story.
- Our Community Immunity Toolkit gives parents and school officials the information and the handouts they need to help inform their schools about herd immunity and whether or not their communities are protecting from vaccine-preventable diseases.
Playgroups are always fun for parents and young children, but these pro-vaccine playgroups help promote vaccination as a social norm and a community value by showing that parents are willing to come together in the name of keeping children disease-free. These playgropups are always forming, and you can contact us to put one together, too!
Telling your stories:
Our blog is one of the most important portals for parents who want to project their voices in support of immunization.
- This year we published two stories about influenza: one story about a new mother’s battle with the disease that kept her from her new baby for two months; the other a story about a young boy who was hospitalized in his battle with H1N1.
- We published a story written by a woman who, in childhood, lost her sister to chickenpox and another woman whose sister was permanently disabled by measles.
- We published videos and a blog post from students studying to become pharmacists.
And so many more blog posts. When it seems as though one person’s pro-vaccine voice is shouted down by the anti-vaccine movement, we use our blog to get the majority voice heard.
Looking forward to 2016:
Voices for Vaccines is working on two large projects to launch early in 2016. Our next toolkit will be a guide to advocates who have vaccine hesitant friends or loved ones. We will also be working on setting up local networks of parents who would like to raise the immunization rates in their cities and towns. Our first to networks will be located in Coeur d’Alene ID and Upstate New York. We are also looking at a campaign to involve college students in advocacy work! If you would like to be involved in any of these ventures, contact us.
You can help right now.
To achieve our goals and keep our current work rolling, we need your help. Currently, Voices for Vaccines exists only because of the generous donations from individual members like you. If you want to be part of our movement, consider donating today.
We also hope to do more extensive work where you live, and we have a grant we are working on getting funded. If you have connections to people who help fund grants, please contact us to help us out!
Thank you for helping us make 2015 a successful year. We look forward to working with you in the years ahead!