Many parents have different opinions of what they think is best for their child, but what if that opinion includes skipping out on routine vaccinations? Other parents and healthcare professionals alike are often appalled by this dangerous choice, but it’s time to take a step back from your hard-headed beliefs. Before arguing with an antivaxxer out of initial instinct, take the time to educate them on the other options.

Be Open-Minded

As much as you need the antivaxxer at hand to be open-minded to your beliefs, you need to be open to theirs. Hear them out to learn what their worries, concerns, and fears of vaccinating their children are. Do they think it’s unnecessary? Do they believe vaccines cause illness? What exactly makes them feel the way that they do? Once you understand why they feel the way they do, you can begin educating them on your view. Back every statement you make up with verifiable facts for them to review and consider. Many anti-vaxxers think the risks outweigh the benefits of a vaccine, so it’s a good idea to discuss just how different those perceived risks really are.

Be Prepared to Lose

When you aim to educate an antivaxxer your goal should not be to win, because the conversation shouldn’t be a win or lose an argument. Be prepared for them to have reservations still and not entirely agree with the views that you have or the facts that you’ve shown them. If you can walk away from the discussion having educated them and at least getting them thinking about vaccinations in a different light, it’s been a success. Let them know that there are options they can choose to alter the number of vaccinations or the vaccination schedule their kid is on. While this isn’t ideal, it’s better than their child receiving no vaccinations at all.

Most importantly, you should explain to them that the reason the diseases that vaccinations protect from are seen so little in modern day society is that people are vaccinated. If they believe the risk of the vaccination is higher than the risk of the disease itself, they need to understand what has kept the occurrence of the disease so low in the first place. Educating an antivaxxer may take multiple conversations and answering more questions than you thought possible, but all of the work is worth it to protect their child and all other children around them.