Archive | July, 2011

Reasons to Immunize and the Balancing Act

27 Jul

Vaccine safety continues to be a source of worry for over half of American parents. What do they worry about? Take a look at this incredibly creative 2-minute video from the BYU College of Nursing entitled “Reasons to Immunize.”

The creators based their work on speaking with scores of parents who had questions or concerns about vaccinating their children. The messages are easy to grasp. When people say “a picture is worth a thousand words,” you might see this during the part where the risks of diseases are balanced against the common vaccine side-effects. You can’t put everything into a 2-minute video, but you can create an impression.

If you’re looking for more detail, the science journal Nature recently featured a story evaluating the real risks of vaccine safety. Even if you’re short on time, check out the image on page 3. It’s another great example of illustrating the relative risks and benefits of getting vaccinated. When it comes to weighing pros and cons, we owe it to ourselves to consider the very real risks of NOT getting vaccinated: getting a serious disease.

Part of the fear comes from the (incorrect) assumption that everyone is worried—so that becomes our new “normal.” That’s what’s great about the i choose campaign.  i choose gives a forum for regular people to show that they’re happy about their choice to vaccinate.  The balance of opinions online and in the media doesn’t always reflect the actual balance of attitudes out there.  And going back to the “reasons to Vaccinate” video, portraying a more accurate “balance” of information sure seems helpful. If you’ve yet to submit your own i choose poster, consider it as a fun summer project!

How do you weigh risks and choose facts over fear? Don’t be shy, share your thoughts! Until the next blog, enjoy a healthy and fun summer!

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Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation: Vaccines Save Lives

20 Jul

Vaccines save lives. We hear this all the time. But if you’re like us, seeing is believing.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation recently released this video, cleverly animated by the folks at Cognitive Media.  In case you haven’t heard, the Gates Foundation has taken up the cause of bringing vaccines to developing countries where preventable diseases are still rampant. It’s an amazing refresher on the roll vaccines play in giving so many children a chance at life free from disease most of us take for granted. Bill also talks about the work steps being done now to rid the world of polio.

To many of us, it may seem like these diseases are a million miles away. But if you think about it, with globalization and world travel, we’re pretty much just a plane ride a way. And some diseases just need enough older kids and adults without booster shots to make a comeback.  That’s been the case for California’s recent  surge in whooping cough, a preventable disease where 10 California babies died just last year and prompting a get-vaccinated campaign right here at home.

And that’s when the light bulb goes on: it isn’t just “those” children in other countries. Vaccines still help our children, our friends, and our loved ones lead lives free of diseases like polio and measles.

Share your thoughts about the Gates Foundation video. Was there something that stuck with you? We’d like to know.

Stay tuned for the next blog posting next week. In the meantime, enjoy a healthy and fun summer!

i Choose Summer Blog – Measles

13 Jul

Hi all! This summer we’re trying out a new iChoose blog. We’ll be sharing some brief thought-provoking and timely topics every week on vaccine and disease-related stories. Hope you enjoy this new feature!

This week’s topic:  Is measles abroad a concern for Californians?

Unfortunately, the answer seems to be yes. Measles continues to be a problem nationwide. A recent CDC health advisory announced that 156 cases of measles had been confirmed in US communities in the first six months of 2011.

Measles is so serious, people used to say, “Don’t count your children until they’ve had the measles.” Disease can happen in the young and old alike – complications can include pneumonia, encephalitis, or death. Fortunately, measles hasn’t been widespread in the U.S. for many years due to high vaccination rates. However, this isn’t the case for other parts in the world.

Where in the world do we commonly find measles?

You might be surprised! European countries like France, the UK, Spain, and Switzerland are having large-scale outbreaks. Asia (including India) and Africa also have high numbers of measles cases.

How does this affect California?

Investigators tell us that the vast majority of new measles cases come from people traveling overseas. That means Americans traveling abroad and returning with measles or foreign travelers bringing measles into the U.S. The majority of these travelers were unvaccinated. Think about it – in these long transcontinental flights, someone with measles could infect many others just during the journey! Recently, these new airport signs alert overseas travelers coming in to California about measles.

If unchecked, measles is extremely contagious. Because symptoms don’t appear right away, someone who’s been infected can easily spread the disease before they even know they’re sick. The best way to stop the spread of measles is to make sure you and your family members have been vaccinated. If you want to learn more about measles, check out the CDC’s measles webpage.

Have you seen the new airport signs? Still wondering about the recent outbreaks of measles? Post a comment!