Give It a Shot!
By Jim Bender, Executive Director, NEA Health Information Network
I suspect that most of us have never heard the sound of a child with whooping cough. We may never have seen a child covered with chickenpox or swollen from the mumps. So we forget that every year children still contract these preventable diseases and get very sick, and some may die.
So far, 2013 has seen major outbreaks of measles in New York and North Carolina. There also have been major outbreaks of pertussis (whooping cough) in Texas, Oregon, Washington, and other states.
Educators and schools can play an important role in helping families get the immunizations they need.
All members of the school community—educators, education support staff, administrators, and parents—can help to carry the message of immunization for students and adults. Advocacy for Vaccines from NEA Health Information Network provides an overview of what you can do to help build support in your school.
To effectively advocate for immunizations, we must understand our audience and what motivates them. We know there are a number of reasons that people choose not to get immunized. These include:
- Beliefs about the safety and efficacy of vaccines
- Beliefs about the need for vaccines
- Lack of knowledge about vaccines that are available and/or recommended
- Lack of access to immunization.
There are great resources to help address these issues. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers toolkits to help raise awareness. Also, the Immunization Action Coalition (IAC) offers many easy-to-use handouts, such as this Summary of Recommendations. IAC’s Vaccine Information Statements are in 41 different languages.
This fall is a perfect time to come up with your school’s plan. After all, flu season is just around the corner.
Because families have such busy lives and different reasons for not getting vaccinated, aim for a year-round plan to advocate that educators and school families get up-to-date vaccinations.
Consider how to enlist diverse partners in your effort. Immunization coalitions bring together educators, administrators, and parents with health departments, local groups, providers, and vaccine company representatives. These voluntary, community-based groups can provide information on disease trends, vaccine availability, and referral to other resources.
Schools and health departments can work together so that cost of vaccination is not a barrier. Programs that support affordable vaccines include CDC’s Vaccines for Children program, as well as partnerships with health insurance companies, hospitals, and other provider groups.
NEA HIN will welcome hearing about your school’s plan to advance student health. Share your story on our Facebook page.
Click here to browse dozens of Public School Insights interviews with extraordinary education advocates, including:
- Actress/Mathematician Danica McKellar on girls and math
- Best Selling Author Kenneth C. Davis on engaging with history
- Nurse Practitioner Jennifer Danielson on providing health care at school
The views expressed in this website's interviews do not necessarily represent those of the Learning First Alliance or its members.
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