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First Contact With Vaccination Facts Makes All the Difference

First Contact With Vaccination Facts Makes All the Difference

In the 1996 Star Trek film First Contact, Captain Picard needs to travel back in time to save Earth after the Borg has traveled back and taken over all of Earth’s nine billion inhabitants. The movie makes it clear that first contact with the collective is rough going. But that danger is nothing compared to the risks of first contact with false info about vaccinations—and the resulting possibility of first contact with polio, pertussis, diphtheria, measles, mumps, rubella or chicken pox.

A study in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology reveals that people without previous information about vaccines are less likely to vaccinate their children if they are introduced to anti-vaccination conspiracy theories before they are presented with the solid facts about vaccine safety and effectiveness.

The good news is that the converse is also true. Uninformed folks who are given the factual/actual information first are resistant to conspiracy theories and more likely to vaccinate.

Nationally, it’s estimated that almost 9 percent of parents refuse at least one vaccine and 3.3 percent refuse all vaccines for their children. That puts children too young to be vaccinated, older folks, those with compromised immune systems and the unvaccinated children themselves at risk for life-threatening diseases! Maybe we need a public health campaign that makes first contact with people about the importance of vaccinations. And talk to your friends and neighbors about immunizations and let them know the benefits outweigh serious risks by 40,000 to 1.

Medically reviewed in August 2019.

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