When it comes to misinformation, what a person believes is less about what they’ve read and more about whom they trust. If that someone in your life is preparing to become a parent, you can help stop them from falling down the anti-vaxxer rabbit hole.
One way is spreading positive affirmations, like NPR reports Kim Nelson of South Carolina Parents for Vaccines did in Facebook mum groups. She’d post “Great job, Mum!” if somebody said their baby got shots today.
But that doesn’t mean you should wait until your friends have kids to make comments like that. People start forming their opinions about baby care when they’re still pregnant, or even when they’re thinking about getting pregnant.
It’s rare that somebody’s obstetrician will start a conversation about vaccines, and by the time a new parent shows up at the paediatrician’s, their mind is often already made up. Which is a shame, because paediatricians are a great source of information about the risks and benefits of vaccines.
A few fringe anti-vaxxers aside, most parents are just trying to do their best for their kids. So if somebody they sort-of trust (their friends in a natural parenting group, for example) starts talking about the risks of vaccines, they may focus on those risks. That could result in turning down some or all vaccines, or being unsure of what to do and stalling on making the decision.
(It’s best to get vaccines on time; spaced-out schedules do more harm than good.)
So if you have kids of your own, talk about their shots (on social media or in person) as a normal, happy milestone. Heck, talk about your dog’s rabies shot, or your own flu shot, as a way of reminding the lurkers on your timeline that vaccines are important to you.
And if you have the knowledge and patience, offer to talk with the parents and parents-to-be in your social circle about the risks of not vaccinating. Telling how you made a thoughtful decision for yourself or your child is a powerful story that almost any parent-to-be would be grateful to hear.