Vaccines are miracle of science.

They handily beat all other medical procedures in lives saved and disabling illnesses prevented.

From poliomyelitis & tetanus to diphtheria, tuberculosis, measles and meningitis, vaccines have eradicated a whole host of crippling diseases from most parts of the world.

They are the frontline of our defense and maybe the single biggest reason for doubling life expectancy rates globally.

They are also all the rage now.

So let’s use the vaccine analogy to see what it would look like to ‘vaccinate’ teenagers against financial illiteracy.

Financial illiteracy affects 33 percent of adults worldwide. This means that around 3.5 billion adults globally, most of them in developing economies, lack an understanding of basic financial concepts.

The effects of this are serious and far-reaching — crippling credit card debt, lack of savings, lack of emergency funds, inability to budget effectively and an increased susceptibility to financial scams and fraud, to name a few.

This would be bad enough but it gets worse. These problems then lead to financial stress & anxiety.

And high levels of financial stress and anxiety then manifest through a host of physical symptoms like sleep loss, headaches/ migraines, digestive issues, high blood pressure, heart arrhythmia, compromised immune systems, fatigue and depression.

Definitely not a path we’d like our teens to venture down.

What if we could ‘vaccinate’ them early on, with a dose of financial education?

This ‘fin-ed vaccine’ would trigger the body to produce antibodies that would help fight off the serious effects of financial illiteracy — bad debt, lack of savings etc.

As in a real vaccine, the first time this happens, it takes time for the body to respond and produce antibodies. But if the body is exposed more than once, the antibody response is much faster.

Giving teens the vaccine would prevent them from falling into serious financial pitfalls or at the very least ensure that they don’t suffer too badly and can recover quickly.

As in a real vaccine, they might need multiple doses, given weeks or months apart. This would train them to fight off the illiteracy effects rapidly, if and when they are exposed to it in the future (and they very likely will be).

And then there’s herd immunity.

If we manage to vaccinate the majority of teenagers, even those that aren’t vaccinated can still be protected if they live in and amongst those who are.

This is because the pathogen (financial illiteracy in this case) will have a hard time circulating as most of the teens it encounters are immune and will be making smart financial decisions that the non-vaccinated teens will notice and emulate.

If everyone’s doing it, it must make sense. (Yes, teens think this way)

That’s herd immunity at its’ best.

For those worried about harmful side-effects, there aren’t any, except for a slight irritation at being enrolled in a program.

An ice pack helps.