Top 5 Ways to Feel Empowered About Vaccine Decision-Making

Vaccines have been around for hundreds of years and have protected millions of people from disease. They are one of the safest and most effective tools we have to keep ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities healthy.

But there’s a lot of information (and misinformation) about vaccines floating around, and it’s not always easy to know what to do.

Here are five ways to empower yourself about vaccine decision-making.

1. Learn how vaccines are made and approved

Making vaccines can be a long process that involves extensive research and several stages of testing. Only after a vaccine has been shown to be safe and effective can it be licensed or approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Knowing how vaccines work and learning about the vaccine approval process can help break down the sophisticated science behind vaccine manufacturing and help put your mind at ease about their safety. You can watch our easy-to-understand video on the vaccine approval process, and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is also a good resource for information on the vaccine creation and approval process.

See: How vaccines work >>

2. Find out what vaccines you might need

Which vaccines you need at any given time depends on many factors, including your age, which vaccines you’ve already received, and whether you have any pre-existing health conditions. The time of year also matters: the flu vaccine, for example, is seasonal and should ideally be given in the fall.

The CDC is also a great resource here. They provide a vaccine questionnaire This will help you determine which vaccines you need. They also offer advice on how to track your vaccination records if you are not sure about your history.

3. Consider your sources of information

If there is one thing you should keep in mind when making decisions about vaccines, it is that you can’t believe everything you read on the Internet. When navigating the vast sea of ​​vaccine information online, it is important to consider where the information comes from.

Because it is not always easy to distinguish legitimate sources of vaccine information from unreliable ones, the World Health Organization (WHO) created a Vaccine Safety Net — a global network of websites that provide reliable and accurate vaccine information. You can search for information using this site and know that everything you find has been verified as legitimate.

4. Know where to go

You may be surprised by how many different places you can go to get vaccinated besides your healthcare provider’s office. For example, most large supermarket chains and department stores have pharmacies that offer flu and Covid vaccines, among others. His Vaccines will most likely be covered by insurance in these locations, although it’s worth calling ahead to make sure.

Your local public health department is another option, one that can be particularly helpful for people without insurance.

Still not sure where to get Covid and flu vaccines? The federal government has created a website, www.vaccines.govwhich allows you to enter your zip code to find providers near you.

5. Stay informed about disease levels in your area

Another important piece of the vaccine decision-making puzzle has to do with the level of infection in your community. When you know the number of people who are sick with Covid, flu, and other respiratory illnesses near you, you will be able to make more informed decisions about how best to protect yourself.

For example, if you hear on your local public radio station that Covid numbers are rising in your area and you haven’t yet received your updated vaccine, you may want to get vaccinated now, knowing that takes a couple of weeks to provide full protection. Or if your child’s teacher tells you the flu is making the rounds and your family hasn’t gotten a flu shot yet, now might be the time to do so.

Read: Options for Covid vaccines >>

The CDC has a map of current flu activity in the United States that update weekly and a covid tracker They are updated twice a week, which can help you stay on top of infection rates. Your local health department is likely tracking illnesses at the community level as well.

Education equals empowerment

No matter what you’re considering, a general rule of thumb is that educating yourself about your choices can go a long way toward making one. When you learn about vaccines, both on your own and with others, you become empowered to decide what is best for you and your family.

This educational resource was created with the support of Novavax, a member of HealthyWomen’s Corporate Advisory Board.

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