While working for STChealth in 2015, Michelle Bonjour and Lara Popovich were tasked with selling software to numerous public health departments and pharmacies. The software they sold helped ensure immunization records were recorded in a database called an “Immunization Information System” or “IIS”, which are systems used by state public health officials to determine if a population is sufficiently protected against possible diseases and disease outbreaks. As Michelle and Lara, who were both young moms at the time, learned more about IIS they realized that a mass amount of people did not have access to the same understanding about vaccines and the diseases they protect against.
“Before I had my two girls, I really didn’t give much thought to vaccines,” Lara recalls. “Then I had my first baby and the doctor was scheduling a six-week appointment to give her the first round of many rounds of shots. While I didn’t question the need for these vaccines, the number of doses and diseases they protected against was staggering and I wanted to know more!”
Like many new mothers, Michelle and Lara were faced with their first opportunity to either support or shy away from vaccines while holding their newborn babies in their doctor’s offices during a very emotional and vulnerable time in their lives. And this gave them an idea!
“What if we created a group of vaccine influencers, similar to any other brand influencer out there?” Michelle asked. “Maybe we could make talking about and learning about vaccines ‘cool’ and give people potentially lifesaving information about vaccines to empower them to make major decisions about immunizing themselves and their families. Through the power of community, we could amplify those messages and help drown out some of the false, fear-provoking messages that are out there.”
Thus, Immunization Ambassadors was born, as well as the #WhyIVax movement.
To learn more about Immunizations Ambassadors and their growing community of influence, follow us on Instagram (@immunizationambassadors), Twitter and Facebook (@WhyIVax) and listen to the Ideas Start Here podcast episode featuring Michelle and Lara.
And don’t forget, it’s easy to apply to become an Immunization Ambassador!