Vaccination is one of the most effective public health strategies we have, helping to protect not just ourselves and our little ones, but the community in which we live. That doesn’t mean, however, that you shouldn’t ask questions.
Looking for additional information about any health topic is always a good thing. So too is finding out your options, staying informed by studying science, and talking to your health professional team.
Vaccines are among the most carefully studied and monitored medicines on the market today. But they are also the most controversial. Almost everyone has an opinion and something to say online, so how do you know which information you should be reading?
Kidspot offers a few suggestions for online browsing…
- Pay attention to references
Misinformation sources “cherry pick” the bits they like from studies and ignore the bits they don’t like. Any references to studies should include all relevant information and be linked to the actual findings, so you can study the findings in more detail.
- Check for other sources
If you read a piece of information that you believe is of value, check to see if other reputable sources say the same thing. If multiple legitimate sources say the same thing, it’s more likely that what you are reading is accurate.
- Use the right search terms
When looking for information, searching the term “immunisation” as opposed to “vaccination” can help to filter out some of the less helpful and less scientific information out there.
- Are there content details for the author?
What other information is offered by the source? Is there contact information for the person/organisation that wrote the article? Does it state their mission in writing the article?
- Keep your logic hat on
If the author of the article makes a claim that suggests hundreds of thousands of scientists, researchers and medical professionals around the world are part of some giant conspiracy, keep your logic hat on. If something seems a stretch, find another source.
- Is the author trying to sell something?
Many sites that offer anti-vaccination information are trying to sell you something in its place. If the source suggests you forget about vaccines and instead purchase a super immune supporting supplement or sign up to a weekly immune-boosting newsletter, find another source. Regardless of whether or not they think they are offering you valuable information, there’s a conflict of interest.
- Look at the terminology
The term “pro-choice” is used a lot in anti-vaccination information, and while it may seem logical, it’s actually not that accurate. Choosing not to vaccinate may seem like pro-choice, but it doesn’t support the wider purpose of vaccination, which is bigger than just self-protection. Vaccination choice should also be about disease control, elimination and hopefully eradication.
- Does the story overplay emotion?
There are known risks to vaccines but they are vastly outweighed by the benefits to both the individual and the wider community. If the story only focuses on the negatives or uses scare tactics to make you fear for your child’s safety, it’s overstating the risks.
- Look at the type of website
Pay attention to the kind of website you are pulling your information from. Generally speaking, websites with a .org. gov. edu. info or .net are more informative than those ending in .com.
- Know where to start
As a parent, you are well within your right to research everything that affects your child. But it’s crucial that you use the right sources to do this. Good places to start include:
- Healthy North Coast
- Northern Rivers Vaccination Supporters
- Northern NSW Local Health District
- The World Health Organisation
- Immunise Australia
- National Centre for Immunisation Research & Surveillance (NCIRS)
- Immunisation Foundation of Australia