Vaccine awareness project

Topics in Infectious diseases (Vaccines concentration) class taught by Louise-Anne McNutt  was memorable as it was a mix of immunology, behavioral social change theories, staging the National Vaccine Committee workshop, social media application in public health and several group tasks.

I had a pleasure of working with Madhu Anand and Megan Mitchell for a final project where we have designed web-based educational campaign for new or newly expectant mothers basically a health blog called My MMR (measles mumps and rubella vaccine).

Among all vaccines we have chosen Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccination due to recent  anti-vaccination moods and several outbreaks in the US. The summary of the project was made in Prezi, that has allowed us to present the project more vividly.

Our project is meant to provide information, discuss their rights, options, decisions and what they mean for the child and other children in the community.

Benjamin Domenech (editor of Health Care News and a research fellow at The Heartland Institute) in his blog write about his  straightforward opinion about the vaccine choices parents are making today: “Parents who refuse to allow their children to be vaccinated must understand they are deciding to teach their children at home or in schools that will allow unvaccinated children to enroll.The rest of the community should not have to bear the risk of a rise in preventable disease.The role of government in the matter should be to ensure people aren’t allowed to impose their choices on others, which means if we’re going to have public schools and children are required to attend, we can’t allow them to admit unvaccinated children.”

Anti-vaccine movement is hard to address disregarding where it takes place. To support some arguments public health expert can always turn to history of medicine and in the US to the Founding Fathers of the nation, here are some examples from  New York Times essay by  Dr. Howard Markel (a professor of the history of medicine at the University of Michigan): “John Adams was inoculated in 1764. George Washington ordered his soldiers to be inoculated in 1777 because more men were falling to smallpox than to Redcoat muskets. Thomas Jefferson, who avidly followed the scientific literature on the subject, inoculated himself and his children in 1782. Benjamin Franklin was an advocate of smallpox inoculation.”

Other group of students (Lia Gvinjilia,Patel Nimish, Mingzeng Sun) came up with a video for yellow fever vaccine.

These are  academic public health projects, but a demonstration of how various means of mass communication can create awareness as well as provide accurate knowledge for population to make decisions. This is the right time for research, especially when “half  of America is using social networks” and already this week I was reading research by E. Miller and  A. Pole  and their article where they take a close look at  Health blogs, its influence, usage and current perspectives.

Dr. Shah, the current NYS Commissioner of Health is a social media supporter, who gave a guidance speech encouraging to focus on patient-centered approach and use of modern technology.

I hope social media will help bridge the access gaps to health care providers, and to high quality health care services. I sincerely believe it is possible through the combined efforts from committed healthcare and IT professionals.

Finally, I would like to post a video from the Gates Foundation that explicitly explains the history and values of vaccines:

and the most recent Eurosurveillance report that focuses on MMR vaccination in Europe.