Vaccinating Children
Public Trust and Health


While the majority of Americans vaccinate their children, there are many parents who selectively choose the vaccines to be given or who decline vaccinations altogether. This Forum event, held a few days after the September 10 airing of the NOVA film Vaccines: Calling the Shots, examined the drivers of public perceptions of vaccinations, the threats that vaccine-preventable illnesses pose, and the steps to be taken to restore trust in one of public health’s greatest weapons against infectious diseases.

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Presented in Partnership with Tangled Bank Studios, a film production company of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and in Collaboration with NOVA, PRI’s The World & WGBH

Background Articles

Image Credit: © Jamiehooper | - Writing A Message For You Photo

  • Vinko Ivo Milić Díaz

    Of course, this NOVA episode are awesome! This is interesting for all the people who knows all about vaccines or shots. Also for kids, I recommend an episode of SID THE SCIENCE KID called “Getting A Shot: You Can Do It!” available on YouTube. A game about shots and anti-bodies are available on Everybody needs good health… but we need a shot!!! Hurts a little bit… but you are healthy at last. Support PBS for more science shows like NOVA.

  • zavoj

    Just a clarification…Hep B is not only transmitted through sexual activity. Babies and children can get hepatitis B at birth from their infected mother, from bites from an infected person, by touching open cuts or sores of an infected person, through sharing toothbrushes or other personal items used by an infected person, from food that was chewed (for a baby) by an infected person, from ear piercing needles that were not cleaned well. More information on Hep B and other diseases (along with information on the vaccines that
    them) can be found on Every Child By Two’s website at Other science-based websites –;;

  • Kristen Lally


    KSR (guest): Do you know anything about how fear of the unknown and unfamiliar affects skepticism among parents?

  • Kristen Lally


    Guest561 (guest): What are the rights of citizens who perhaps can’t be vaccinated to not be exposed to unvaccinated individuals who can spread a disease? Is it analogous to nonsmokers not wanting to be exposed to the cigarette smoke of others? In this case,laws have been passed so that smokers can’t inflict their smoke on others.

  • Kristen Lally


    Guest121 (guest): To what extent are increases in pertussis due to waning efficacy of Tdap, over a very short period of time?

  • Kristen Lally


    How do we address health care providers opposed to vaccinations (e.g., nurses opposed to flu vaccines)?

    • lilady R.N.

      As nurses, we work within the system to implement mandatory seasonal influenza vaccine for every health care worker.

      On a local and national level, we work with the American Nursing Association, lobbying the membership to promote mandatory seasonal influenza vaccines as a condition of employment or condition of continued employment (with the exception of the rare HCW who has a true medical contraindication…as verified by his/her physician).

  • Kristen Lally


    Other vaccines are named after the dz they prevent- MMR, DTaP, rather than by the contagion ; could we do the same for HPVvax?

    • lilady R.N.

      the HPV vaccine prevents 70 percent of the strains of the Human Papilloma Virus which is implicated in precancerous lesions, cervical cancer and vulva cancer. It really does represent those diseases…and to a slightly lesser percentage…PPV prevents oral, throat, penile and anal cancers.

  • Kristen Lally


    How high is the risk for viruses that have been historically defeated due to the use of vaccines, to mutate to a new strand within communities that tend not to vaccinate, and thus trigger a need for mass re-immunization for the whole population?

  • Kristen Lally


    It’s my understanding there are several strains of the human papilloma virus that can cause cancer.

    does the current recommended hpv vaccine prevent ALL types of hpv caused cancer? if not, which strain, which cancer?

  • Kristen Lally


    my parents are 84 and 68 years of age and have not been vaccinated for many years, I asked after watching the NOVA presentation.

    my parents visit their physicians regularly, and receive NO recommendation for boosters of any kind.

    why is this population not targeted for continued vaccinations agains measles for example, while the flu shot is routinely promoted seasonally to them?

    this seems to me evidence of an emphasis on compliance with childhood vaccine schedules with a neglect of equal emphasis on adult continued vaccination. It’s as if this population (adult) does not also contribute to a weaker “safety net”. The pediatric community would like us to believe the unvaccinated childhood population (approx. 10% according to the NOVA piece) weakens the “safety net” on its own.

    Don’t grandparents come into regular contact with their grandchildren and therefore also pose potential risk?

  • Kristen Lally


    Pharmaceutical corporation to physician relationships has come under greater public scrutiny in recent years. Did the pharma industry influence the drafting of the current childhood vaccination schedule?

  • Kristen Lally


    How can pediatricians be open to families with concerns and questions without giving away the advantages of a “presumptive” communication style?

    Thank you for considering this question.

  • Kristen Lally



    How would you respond to critics who contend that vaccination in general (and especially within today’s frequent vaccination schedule) is harmful due to the priming and overstimulation of the brain’s special immune system resulting from vaccine adjuvants (i.e., mercury, aluminium, formaldehyde, monosodium glutamate, etc…)? Microglial priming leads to an over-response of the harmful neurodegenerative effects of cytokine storms, chemokines, RNS/ROS, and the like, the implications of which can be basically indistinguishable from a diagnosis of autism.

    How would you respond to critics who contend that there is no scientific evidence to support the false label of “vaccine-preventable” illness of any kind, as every illness irradication credited to vaccines actually occurred almost entirely prior to the introduction of any vaccine for the disease:

    If vaccines are effective, then why do vaccine-promoters get hysterical over those who choose not to vaccinate? Why should it make any difference to the vaccinated what others do?

    Why do most modern outbreaks of “vaccine-preventable” diseases occur among the vaccinated? Further, how is even possible that there are in fact variations of certain diseases which are referred to in the literature as “vaccine-induced” (e.g., vaccine-induced polio)?

    If vaccinations and public policy thereabout are sound scientifically, why do most vaccine-promoters in the media refuse to discuss the science behind them in any detail, but rather unscientifically seek to close off all scientific debate thereabout as not only unnecessary about harmful to public health?

    Rather than attempt to keep up with the seemingly endless diseases that require vaccination to develop specific antibodies thereto, but which damages the body’s natural immunity defenses, why not rather promote a public policy of subsidizing healthy nutrient-rich, plant-based, organic diets which promote vigorous healthy non-specific immunity that can handle any infection, especially the unknown?

    • lilady R.N.

      See my replies above and please do not use as a reference.

      Scopies Law:

      Scopie’s Law states:

      “”In any discussion involving science or medicine, citing as a credible source loses you the argument immediately… and gets you laughed out of the room.”

  • Kristen Lally


    Many people believe vaccinations are contributing to the alarming rise in autism. This is making new parents fearful of having their children Vaccinated. It is so important to protect our children and population from these potentially devastating diseases, but I have to say, having children of child-bearing age and knowing several people struggling with autistic children, I have a concern that the way we are manufacturing our vaccines needs to be changed.

    What are your thoughts on this?

    • lilady R.N.

      We as health care professionals respond by linking to hundreds of studies, completed by thousands of researchers who are scientists, doctors, epidmiologists and medical research statistician, which have been published in first tier, peer-reviewed medical journals and science journals.

      The immunization records of millions of children were examined and matched with their clinical records and no link was every found between any vaccine, any ingredient in vaccines, the spacing and timing of vaccines and the onset of autism.

      We also support research into the chromosomal and genes linked to autism development, as well as the intrauterine environment, parental ages at time of conception, families histories, to find, that not all kids with autism have mutations, but most do and we further encouage additional research to identity the preconception factors and the antenatal environment to discover more about these factors.

      What we do know, as a result of hundreds of research studies is that vaccines do not cause autism.

  • Kristen Lally


    Why universally give the Hep B vaccine at birth when it is largely a sexually transmitted (or needle-sharing) disease and the vaccine only lasts approximately 15 years? This vaccine is known to cause lupus, and it contains a fair amount of aluminum, which is never 100% excreted. If the worry is vertical transmission from mother to child through birth, the vaccine isn’t even indicated — in those cases wouldn’t the immunoglobulin be given?

    • lilady R.N.

      Where to begin…when just about every statement in your post is not just wrong…they are spectacularly wrong.

      Every pregnant woman should be tested during every pregnancy for the presence of the hepatitis B surface antigen…indicating she is either an acute case of the virus or a chronic carrier of virus. At birth her child will require a hepatitis B vaccine and the HBIG (Hepatitis B Immune Globulin) shot to prevent vertical transmission of the virus to the newborn.

      Children whose mothers are not acute ill or chronic carriers of the hepatitis B virus, should also be fully immunized (starting with the birth dose of hepatitis B) against the virus to protect the infant from horizontal transmission of the virus, from close family members and from playmates (where we have no knowledge of their hepatitis B status)

      90-95 % of children under the age of five who contract the hepatitis B from their mothers via vertical transmission or through contacted with chronically infected family members or playmates with remain as chronic carrier of Hepatitis B…at high risk of fulminant liver disease and at high risk of hepatocellular carcinoma.

      The serum derived vaccine (Heptavax) and the rDNA hepatitis B have been used since 1980 and they provide protection to the early recipients of these vaccines. Even those who have a lower level of surface antibody to the virus, have protection, because the body mounts an anamnestic response, when confronted with the actual virus.

      The hepatitis B vaccine affords protection against the virus for at least 34 years post vaccination and the protection is believed to be lifelong.

  • Anne Dachel

    Actually, this panel discussion is nothing but any exercise in futility.
    In the real world, parents know that there are convincing reasons they should be
    scared to vaccinate their children according to the CDC schedule. Our children
    are the most vaccinated on the planet and some of the sickest. Exploding rates
    of autism, learning disorders, diabetes, seizure disorder, and bowel disease
    plague our kids.

    Tens of thousand of parents report their children were fine until they were
    vaccinated. Suddenly they got sick, lost learned skills and regressed into
    autism. Many stopped talking altogether.

    Experts tell us that this was all coincidence. They have lots of studies
    showing no link to their ever-expanding vaccination schedule.


    Recent revelations from a whistleblower (a top expert at the CDC) casts
    serious doubts on the studies used to debunk a link between vaccines and autism.

    Senior government scientist breaks 13 years of
    silence on CDC’s vaccine-autism fraud


    CDC whistleblower William Thompson admitted
    that health officials omitted research findings on the MMR vaccine that showed a
    340 percent higher incidence of autism among Black children. Hiding these
    results meant that Black children were at risk for developing autism. Meanwhile
    officials have not deviated from their claim that there is no link between
    vaccines and autism.

    Media editor: Age of Autism

    • White_and_Nerdy

      Wow where to start….

      Actually courts have been very clear that don’t think the issue is coincidences.

      Rather they have characterized those that claim vaccines cause autism as being liars out for money.

      Not really surprising….after all the courts have detailed how the children were not “normally” developing and have revealed how the anti-vaccs try and deceive parents into believing in non-existent vaccine adverse reactions.

      Funny how you didn’t mention that Hooker’s bogus paper has already been withdrawn by the publisher… is completely trivial to learn on-line–but not at Age of Autism–how it is completely dishonest.

      BTW: even ignoring the fact that Hooker’s “data” is completely bogus, anyone that can do ~4th grade math and looks at the data will immediately see that he did NOT find a 340% increase
      in risk.

      Here we are a month later and the entire combined Age of Autism/anti-vaccs still can’t do the most basic math correct…

      Unbelievable, but there you are….


    • lilady R.N.

      Must you post you off-topic spamming articles on every science blog, Ms. Dachel?

      Neither you, who is a retired social studies teacher, nor any other your fellow “journalists” at Age of Autism, are qualified to discuss vaccines and the consequences of not vaccinating infants and children according to the CDC/AAP/AAFP Recommended Childhood Vaccine Schedule.

      The heroes of your group are the disgraced and discredited former medical doctors Andrew Wakefield and Mark Geier, whose medical licenses were revoked by the respective medical licensig boards which found their “studies” were junk fraudulent science and found them guilty of the egregious harm they visited on their study subjects.

      Furthermore, your group sells advertising space for bogus biomedical autism treatments, which are painful, invasive and dangerous and which lack any clinical indications for “recovering/treating autism or an other developmental disorder or childhood disorder of disease….such as chemical castration, chelation for imaginary heavy metal toxicities, industrial bleach enemas and IV intrathecal stem cell transplant in filthy, unregulated offshore clinics.

      You and your colleagues make a mockery of professional journalism with your libelous defamatory articles about respected scientists, researchers, doctors, science reporters and science journalists and you have yet to publish any study, any where, to support your bizarre claims about the supposed links between vaccines, the ingredients in vaccines, the spacing and timing of vaccines….and the onset of autism.

      Please stop spamming every science blog and every science article with your pseudoscience and your utterly off-topic comments about vaccines.

      Please stop referring to autistic children as “vaccine-damaged”, “trains wrecks” and “soulless”. It is an abomination.

    • The Forum Moderator

      Just a quick note to Forum visitors that the CDC posted a statement about the 2004
      Pediatrics paper here:

      That statement states, “Additional studies and a more recent rigorous review by the Institute of Medicine have found that MMR vaccine does not increase the risk of autism.”

      In addition, CNN has reported that the study referred to in the video to which the above post links, suggesting that African-American boys are more at risk for autism from the MMR vaccine, has been removed from the public domain pending further investigation.

  • lilady R.N.

    Yes. We as health care providers/health care educators must find a way to reach young men and women before they even contemplate starting a family.

    We need to appeal to high schools and colleges to teach critical thinking skills in the science classes, by expanding basic science courses to include preventive medicine, fetal development and human physiology as well as the very real need to protect infants and young children from serious, sometimes deadly, vaccine-preventable diseases…if we ever hope to have young parents who accept childhood vaccines as the best and safest preventive medicine that modern science has to offer, to protect their babies.

    Yes, to providing Vaccine Information Statements in the obstetrician’s office…and yes to providing other reliable information which is parent friendly and which has telephone contact numbers to reach their local health department’s trained immunizations staff, to answer any and all questions about the Recommended Childhood Vaccine Schedule….as well as the Vitamin K shot provided to all newborn babies to protect them from experiencing deadly brain bleeds.

    We are up against a small, but powerful and loud number of anti-vaccine, anti-science groups whose sole purpose is to spread Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt, to their credulous unschooled-in-basic science group of expectant parents.

    Time is long since past, for professional groups (the AMA, the AAP, the ACOG and the ANA) to become proactive and to coordinate their joint efforts to dispel the myths laid down by the anti-vaccine groups. To do otherwise is not acceptable and we fail to protect our youngest and most vulnerable patients…the infants and children entrusted to our care.

  • The Forum Moderator

    Greetings Forum visitors — we’re pleased that you found our site and hope that you find the on-demand video useful. Just a reminder that we ask our visitors to be respectful. We will remove comments if necessary, but we’d rather encourage a thoughtful discussion around this topic. Thank you all.