Sometimes, families are given no information or wrong information about immunization.
Let’s start with a true story:
There is a chemical substance that kills thousands of people every year. It can wipeout entire ecosystems, along with the plants and animals that live there. Inhaling it can kill you. Even in small quantities, it will suffocate you. Touching it can cause burns and permanent skin damage. It’s found in all cancer cells. It’s used in making styrofoam and pesticides.
This chemical substance is known as Dihydrogen Monoxide, or DHMO for short. There have been attempts to ban DHMO in New Zealand and the USA.
Knowing all this, if you had a cup filled with DHMO, would you drink it?
Would you be surprised to learn that you’ve definitely have had a drink of DHMO in your lifetime?
Probably even today.
You might even have some in your bag right now. Or in your mouth!
This is because Dihydrogen Monoxide is actually just the scientific name for water.
If you’re you surprised by this, that’s perfectly normal. Many people (including many adults) have been tricked by the DHMO hoax. Nothing listed above is a lie: hurricanes and floods cause damage, boiling water can burn your skin, and adults have tried to ban it because they were fooled by the hoax!
Now imagine that we didn’t tell you that DHMO is just water. How long would it have taken you to find out?
What if you didn’t have a teacher or a textbook to tell you the truth? What if you couldn’t use the internet or the library to find out more information? What if you couldn’t read?
Perhaps it would take days, months, or even years to find out the truth!
This is why it’s important to make sure that people have access to accurate information. Even though the science is clear that vaccines are safe (and saves millions of lives), there are many misunderstandings and half-truths about vaccines. This can make people unsure or scared about getting vaccinated.
Unfortunately, because of poverty, some people in countries around the world are illiterate (unable to read). This makes it more challenging to access accurate information and educate people about why immunization is important.
Without accurate information, people can’t find out that vaccines are available, where they are, and when to get them. Watch this video from Pakistan to learn more about how UNICEF is using local leaders to help mothers become more aware of the importance of getting their children vaccinated against polio.
Religious leaders help in changing misconceptions about the polio vaccine: