Assignment: Deliberate Exposure

Assignment: Deliberate Exposure

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What Piper finds most troubling is not that the “herd immunity” was compromised, though that does trouble her. Worse, in her opinion, was the fact that members of the anti vaccination community were distributing fliers and talking to families in the affected community. The anti vax activists reportedly told people that the measles outbreak had been created by the government in order to pressure immigrant parents to vaccinate their children. One of Open Arms’ primary goals has been to counter the fear and misinformation that anti vaccine groups have been spreading in the community for nearly a decade. That misinformation specifically promotes the purported vaccine autism link, despite extensive research disproving those claims. This is troubling, because there is a high incidence of autism within the community and parents are justifiably concerned.

Despite her frustration, Piper hasn’t given up hope. Religious leaders and trusted health care providers in the community have been enlisted by clinic staff members to convince parents to protect their children by getting the measles mumps rubella vaccine.

At a staff meeting, Piper asks for insights to the situation. Felicia Cruz, the clinic pediatrician, expresses optimism about the situation. “Since the measles outbreak, I’ve seen several parents who’ve refused to inoculate their children come in,” she says. “They’re still nervous — very nervous, in fact — but they’re more open to believing us than I’ve ever seen.”

Nasra, an intern at the clinic who is working toward a master’s degree in public health, adds “I was recently talking with a woman who said that the imam at her mosque has been very blunt. He said If you care about your child, you must vaccinate. I think it’s important to make sure parents know how devastating these diseases are. I heard that the anti vaxers were trying to set up measles parties to deliberately expose unvaccinated children to children with measles. We need to explain to these parents that they are playing with fire.”

“I wonder how many parents would make different choices if they could actually see the effects of these diseases” says Emily, a clinic nurse. “People have forgotten how devastating these diseases used to be. They think that if they feed their children a nutritious diet, then these vaccine–preventable diseases will be mild. Sometimes I wish I could take them to the cemetery and show them all the little headstones from when we didn’t have vaccines.”

Piper is encouraged by these comments, and by the fact that the clinic has been administering almost twice as many vaccines since the measles outbreak as they had the previous year. Still, she worries about how to counter the information being spread by the anti vaccination activists and respond in an ethical way to parents who don’t want to vaccinate their children.

Credits

Subject Matter Expert:

Joan Vermillion

Interactive Design:

Lori Olson

Media Instructional Design:

Felicity Pearson

Instructional Design:

Alan Carpenter

Project Manager:

Nakeela Hall

Image Credits:

iStock, WikiMedia Commons