There is growing concern among health officials that infectious disease outbreaks are on the rise and will continue to escalate in the United States. This upsurge is not due to climate change, globalization, zoonotic pathogens jumping species or antibiotic resistance. It is due to a rising number of parents electing not to vaccinate their children because they are questioning the safety of the vaccines. The evidence and the science of immunization are not adequately or effectively communicated by public health officials. Both factors contribute to this emergent health issue. The Frontline program you will watch presents both sides of the debate. You are then asked to use the knowledge acquired from the video and the module readings as well as your critical thinking skills to communicate the science supporting compulsory (with exceptions) childhood vaccinations to a young mother. You are challenged to defend and discuss immunization in the face of powerful social media and internet campaigns, public distrust of science and an absent historical memory of deadly, disfiguring and socially disruptive infectious diseases. Are you up for the challenge?
Please view the Frontline special, “The Vaccine War” (Video, 56:34 mins) below.
A young mother rushes her four month old infant to the hospital emergency department and reports her infant gasping for air due to an asthma attack. An ED nurse evaluates the infant and questions the mother. The infant is cyanotic, irritable and experiencing a paroxysmal cough. The infant’s temperature is taken and noted as 103.8°F. The mother reveals the infant has been experiencing a cough and congestion for two weeks or more. The infant was born at home and has not been seen by a family practitioner or pediatrician to date. The infant has been exposed to neighborhood children ill with a mild cough. Chest x-rays are taken and blood samples are analyzed. The laboratory results indicate a highly elevated leukocyte count. Pronounced pneumonia is evident in the radiograph. In your post address the following:
Explain (and justify) to the infant’s mother that this is not an asthma attack and identify the likely infectious agent.
Explain that this is a vaccine-preventable disease and explain how vaccines prevent disease.
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