How to Educate Others on the Importance of Immunization

Three Methods:Explaining the BasicsEmploying the Right ToolsTaking Action

Immunization education is an important part of ensuring that public health is protected and maintained. When educating individual about the importance of immunization, start by explaining the basics of the process. Be clear about what immunization is and how vaccines can keep people healthy. Deploy videos, posters, and pamphlets to help people understand the immunization process and the consequences of not getting immunized. Invite questions and direct people to outside sources if you don’t have the appropriate information on hand.

Method 1
Explaining the Basics

  1. Image titled Educate Others on the Importance of Immunization Step 3
    Explain what immunization is.[1] Before getting a vaccine or agreeing that vaccines are important, people must understand what a vaccine is and how it works. Clarify the difference between three related terms: vaccine, vaccination, and immunization.[2]
    • A vaccine is the medical product (usually in the form of a shot) that protects against certain diseases. Vaccinations are created using dead or weakened disease-causing agents (parasites, bacteria, or viruses).
    • Vaccination is the process of receiving the vaccine. Once vaccinated, you’ll begin the immunization process that will allow your body to identify these diseases.
    • Immunization is the process that follows vaccination, in which the body learns to fight a disease using its immune system. Immunization can also happen naturally, without a vaccine, when a person is exposed to and recovers from a disease. A person immunized against a certain disease cannot contract it.
  2. 2
    Illustrate that Immunization is safe.[3] Much of the anxiety and confusion surrounding vaccination is premised on the belief that vaccines can lead to negative outcomes. Assure people who you are educating about vaccines that vaccines have been proven safe in numerous trials and studies.
    • Federal Law Requires that everyone who gets a vaccine also receives a Vaccine Information Statement describing the benefits and risks of each vaccine. Let people know that they have the right to use these statements to make an informed decision.
    • Opponents of vaccination might draw attention to the “Vaccine Injury Court” (the Office of Special Masters) to establish that vaccines are unsafe. However, you should calmly explain that no medical procedure is ever entirely safe, and that the court exists to adjudicate those rare cases -- literally less than one in a million -- where vaccines do result in some harm.[4]
  3. 3
    Debunk the autism myth. Multiple studies from both pubic and private medical agencies and organizations have established that vaccines do not cause autism.[5] You could cite, for instance, the Institute of Medicine report that rejected any correlation between autism and vaccination, or the 2013 Center for Disease Control study that likewise showed vaccines do not cause autism.
  4. 4
    Emphasize the consequences of not getting immunized.[7] Children -- whose immune systems are not as strong as those of adults -- are at risk for developing illnesses that could be prevented by vaccines. These diseases could result in prolonged illness, disability, undernourishment, or death.[8] Furthermore, if many people have not been vaccinated against a particular disease, the likelihood of an epidemic increases. The more people who are walking around without immunity to a disease, after all, the easier it will be for a virus or disease to spread. Immunization is therefore important to protect public health.
    • Use the importance of the HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine to illustrate the consequences of not getting immunized. You might explain that most people get HPV at some point in their life. HPV can cause cancer of the cervix, anus, vulva, vagina, and throat. Without this vaccine, women are at much greater risk for these cancers.

Method 2
Employing the Right Tools

  1. 1
    Use pamphlets.[9] Handing out pamphlets is an effective way to promote your message and educate other on the importance of vaccines. While you should already be familiar with the most relevant facts about the importance of vaccinations, you might not have the time or authority to convince someone to see the importance of immunizations.
    • Handing someone a pamphlet saves time, allows people to take in information at their own pace, and verify the authenticity of what you’re saying by checking the sources cited within the pamphlet.
    • If you are a doctor or public health official, you could make pamphlets available for individuals to take in the front office or lobby of your facility.
    • If you are a friend of someone thinking about getting vaccinated, you could obtain pamphlets in order to help educate your friend about the importance of immunization.
  2. 2
    Use posters.[10] While pamphlets usually have excellent visuals, the increased size of the images on posters can lend them greater impact. If you’re a doctor or public health official, you can hang posters with facts and images relating to the importance of vaccination in the lobby or waiting room of your facility.
  3. 3
    Show videos.[11] Video can be a powerful educational tool, especially with those who process audiovisual information more efficiently than written information. There are many videos available for free streaming online or for order as DVDs.[12]
  4. 4
    Provide coloring books.[13] If you’re trying to help children better understand the importance of immunization, there are coloring books available to help understand the basics of vaccination. Coloring books and other resources for children are available online, and can be printed for use.

Method 3
Taking Action

  1. 1
    Publish an article about the importance of vaccines.[14] Popular articles in reputable newspapers, magazines, and online have the potential to reach more people than public service announcements and statements issued by medical organizations. Write a thoughtful, accurate article about your experience with immunization and how it helped you or your family to demonstrate the importance of immunization. Talk to your local newspaper about the possibility of publishing it.
    • If your op-ed or article is not selected for publication, you could easily self-publish on your blog or social media page.
    • If you do not have time or ability to construct a full-length article, you could still educate people on the the importance of immunizations by writing a letter to your editor.
  2. 2
    Provide relevant materials.[15] The information you provide should be tailored to the individual’s situation. Parents with babies should receive information that is unique from information provided for parents of teens.
    • Similarly, you should always provide information specific to certain diseases. If someone is considering vaccination against diphtheria, do not provide them with information about shingles vaccination.
  3. 3
    Encourage questions.[16] Armed with accurate and scientifically verifiable information, you should have no reason not to invite and answer questions. Immunization can be confusing, and people might have questions about what vaccines they need, when they need them, and what the manufacturing process behind vaccines is.[17]
    • If you cannot answer a question, be honest and admit that you don’t know. However, you should add that you’ll find out and get back to the person, or direct them to a medical professional or another reputable source that can answer their question.
  4. 4
    Provide follow-up materials. Instead of expecting people to take you at your word, you should always redirect them to other, reputable sources of information about immunization. There are a wide variety of public and private agencies and organizations that specialize in providing accurate information about the importance of immunization, including:[18][19]
    • The American Association of Family Physicians, which offers policy statements and recommendations about getting immunized. They are online at
    •, a website run by the Department of Health and Human Services that provides information on many vaccines and when to get immunized.
    • The Immunization Action Coalition, a nonprofit dedicated to improving public health through education on the importance of immunization. Check them out online at
  5. 5
    Recognize the limits of education. In many cases, more information or education that dispels anti-vaccination myths can push people -- especially those who are already suspicious about immunizations -- to more extreme positions.[20] Go into any conversation with an understanding that some people are immune to education, and don’t blame yourself for failing to change their mind. Know when to give up the fight.

Sources and Citations

Show more... (17)

Article Info

Categories: Allergies and Immunization