Tag Archives: George Washington University

Triumph of Vaccines Lost to History: MHA@GW Observes National Immunization Awareness Month

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In the interest of promoting more robust discourse around the importance of regular vaccinations for serious but preventable contagious conditions, MHA@GW is hosting a guest post series in honor of National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM).
During the month of August, they featured blogs from thought leaders and advocates who were asked to answer the question “why immunize in 2015?” Read an excerpt from KC Kids Doc Natasha Burgert’s piece here, and read on to explore more posts on their blog. MHA@GW is the online master of health administration from the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University.

“Our generation is losing access to these historically important stories of death and suffering from disease. The memories of lives that were taken away too early by now-preventable illnesses are hidden away in our own family trees. The retelling of the desperate pleas for a miracle is becoming silent.

We are now witnessing the consequences of this fading oral history.

Today’s news does not tell stories about the miracle of vaccines. The narrative has changed from reports of successful vaccines to waves of warning. The opportunity to protect our children from disease is being incorrectly framed as oppressive and dangerous. Meanwhile, the success of public health initiatives is being compromised. Outbreaks of vaccine-preventable disease are increasing. More kids are getting sick.

Today we each have an opportunity to change this trend. We live in a time our grandparents could only imagine — with one click we can reach our families, friends and entire community. We can let others know a way to stay protected and safe from tragedy.” Read the rest of her post here.

Sophia Bernazzani is the community manager for MHA@GW and MPH@GW, both offered by the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University. She’s passionate about global health, nutrition, and sustainability. Follow her on Twitter.

Fighting the Anti-Vaccine Rhetoric with Science

In the interest of promoting more robust discourse around the importance of regular vaccinations for serious but preventable contagious conditions, MHA@GW is hosting a guest post series in honor of National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM). During the month of August,they’re featuring blogs from thought leaders and advocates who were asked to answer the question, “Why immunize in 2015?” You can read an excerpt of Violent Metaphors‘ Jennifer Raff here, and be sure to read on to explore more posts. MHA@GW is the online master of health administration from the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University.

“It’s critical that we continue to talk about immunization, because vaccine opponents are relentless — see the comments on my piece here for many examples of the bad science and provocative rhetoric they employ.

Speaking up is the most important step, letting parents know that their decision to vaccinate is the safest and most common way people protect their children. The anti-vaccine minority is disproportionately loud, partly because vaccines are so safe, so effective and so ubiquitous that they become part of the background landscape of parenting. Fortunately, in reaction to harmful pseudoscientific scaremongering and events like the Disneyland outbreak, people are motivated to speak out in favor of vaccines.

It matters how we talk about vaccines, too. Here is where there is the most room for improvement in 2015. Writers want the discussion to be dramatic and too often try to paint “anti-vaxxers” as demonic or vile. Or they try to use the vaccine debate as a weapon in the larger culture wars. This leads to the media (and many well-meaning science writers) giving too much weight to vaccine opponents, creating the false perception that there is a “growing movement.” Another problem is that the default images associated with stories on vaccinations are often distressed children and menacing needles. These approaches can have the unfortunate effect of recruiting more people to the anti-vaccine community, as Dan Kahan has pointed out in his piece in Science Magazine and on his blog.

Continue reading Fighting the Anti-Vaccine Rhetoric with Science

Immunizing an Aging Europe: MHA@GW Observes National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM)

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In the interest of promoting more robust discourse around the importance of regular vaccinations for serious but preventable contagious conditions, MHA@GW is hosting a guest post series in honor of National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM). During the month of August, we’re featuring blogs from thought leaders and advocates who were asked to answer the question, “Why immunize in 2015?” You can read an excerpt of Vaccines Today Editor Gary Finnegan’s piece here, and be sure to read on to explore more posts. MHA@GW is the online master of health administration from the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University.

“Europe has a lot going for it. Health services are, for the most part, excellent and easily accessible. Immunization is free and childhood vaccine schedules are well established. The trouble is that most Europeans think vaccination begins and ends in childhood. The consequences of this are very real.

Take Europe’s ongoing measles outbreak. There have been 4,000 cases in the European Union and thousands more in neighboring countries. 70 percent of the EU cases have been in German and Italy — two of the most developed nations in the world.Many children have caught the virus and, tragically, a toddler in Berlin died from the disease. But there are also many outbreaks in adolescents and young adults — most of whom missed out on crucial vaccines when the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) uptake dropped in the late 1990s.” Read the rest of his post here.

Sophia Bernazzani is the community manager for MHA@GW and MPH@GW, both offered by the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University. She’s passionate about global health, nutrition, and sustainability. Follow her on Twitter.

Vaccines Change the World: MHA@GW observes National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM)

In the interest of promoting more robust discourse around the importance of regular vaccinations for serious but preventable contagious conditions, MHA@GW is hosting a guest post series in honor of National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM). During the month of August, we’re featuring blogs from thought leaders and advocates who were asked to answer the question, “Why immunize in 2015?” You can read an excerpt of Vaccine Ambassadors Executive Director Jackie Kaufman’s piece here, and be sure to read on to explore more NIAM posts. MHA@GW is the online master of health administration from the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University.

“The absence of disease in our society has made us complacent. Without a direct memory of these events it is difficult to put this medical marvel into context. What many of us fail to realize is that our experience is the exception and not the rule. In many areas of the world where vaccinations have not become “routine,” parents and children continue to fear the very diseases we have forgotten. In 2013, it was estimated that 145,000 people (mostly children younger than 5) died from measles, a disease that has been preventable for over a half a century.

To be honest, it is difficult to find something fresh that hasn’t been said over and over again, whether it is a rehash of vaccine safety (myths versus facts), Andrew Wakefield’s debunked paper, conspiracy theories, or the motivation of big pharma. It occurred to me that we are continually taking the field in a defensive position, pushing back the false claims rather than creating our own narrative. We need to do better in conveying the amazing impact that vaccines have had and continue to have on our world. Parents, health care providers, and the media (no, there are not two sides) should resound with a common voice. Let’s move beyond the tired old arguments and focus on our messaging. The facts are the facts, but the question is how do we convey them so that they are meaningful and effective?” Read the rest of her post here.

Sophia Bernazzani is the community manager for the MHA@GW and MPH@GW, both offered by the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University. She’s passionate about global health, nutrition, and sustainability. Follow her on Twitter.

Photo: Mobile clinic in Deschapelles, Haiti. Jennifer James