Doctors, you have a problem. Some of your patients think you are on the payroll of Big Pharma, seeking to fill their children’s bodies with toxic chemicals, so they won’t let you immunise their children. Your problem is increasingly becoming everyone’s problem as vaccine-preventable diseases return. Perhaps you feel powerless to challenge the phenomenon of parents thinking they know your job better than you do.
The Immunisation Alliance of WA seeks to support your professional integrity and protect public safety by promoting immunisation. We believe that a decline in herd immunity will have devastating consequences. We’re a not-for-profit organisation made up of parents and health professionals, funded by donations, the WA Health Department and industry.
In 2013, we will be implementing the “I Immunise” campaign targeting low immunisation rates in the Greater Fremantle area. I proposed this campaign to the Alliance after realising that the informal “caring circle” I had joined after having a homebirth was a biohazard, putting my newborn son at risk of infectious disease.
Humans are herd animals. I was taught about cloth nappies by my home-birthing friends. I was encouraged to home-birth by my natural-birthing friends. These practices are packaged together to form a collective mentality and, ultimately, a stereotype. Unfortunately, not vaccinating is framed within this community as virtuous. Outsiders unwittingly buy into this stereotype; my fantastic GP and my local State MP both expressed surprise that I was pro-immunisation.
The “I Immunise” campaign is a series of posters targeting the alternative community. These posters will be displayed long-term in your surgeries, maternity hospitals, child health clinics, schools, swimming pools, libraries and private businesses. They will also appear on billboards, bus shelters and newspaper advertisements, for a month-long campaign that will also target social and traditional media. A website will provide additional information.
The posters feature beautiful, natural parents and list their credentials as breastfeeders, homebirthers, vegetarians, organic eaters and more, simultaneously stating their support for immunisation. The role models in the “I immunise” campaign will de-couple non-vaccination from ethical parenting practices.
Please help us by displaying the posters when they’re produced; not just on your notice board but also in your treatment rooms. Talk to your patients about them, and don’t assume that all ‘alternative’ folks are anti-vax. Some may turn out to be our greatest supporters, and can be directed to the Alliance to get involved.
The Alliance is conducting research as to the efficacy of the campaign, and its applicability for roll-out in Denmark and Margaret River. If you are in these areas or greater Fremantle, please publicise this research to your patients who are concerned about immunisation (see below). It is an opportunity for them to have their views taken seriously. They will also be able to advise us on how to best target the campaign.