This month, the “Take Charge of Your Health Today” page focuses on immunizations and busting some of the vaccination myths floating around.  Bee Schindler, community engagement  coordinator  with the University of Pittsburgh’s Clinical and Translational Science  Institute, and Esther L.  Bush, president and CEO  of the Urban League of  Greater Pittsburgh, spoke about this topic.

BS: Good morning, Ms. Bush. I thank you for the chance to talk with you today about vaccinations. As we’re smack in the middle of flu season, the topic of immunizations is interesting to me. Studies show when larger numbers of people are not getting vaccinations, the overall community immunity is less effective and people do not have protection when diseases bubble up.

EB: Yes, Bee. Most people can relate to this topic, too. It’s an issue across the lifespan, starting when parents and caregivers are tasked with getting their children vaccinated. For example, a long-standing myth is  that vaccines have a link to autism. There have been no research studies to support this claim. In fact, the National Institute of Health funded a study that concluded that there
was no evidence that vaccines cause autism. At the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh, we’re committed to dispelling that myth and getting our young people protected.

BS: It’s interesting how  myths can surface. I read that often people think that a vaccine is a live virus, but researchers, like Dr. Zimmerman from the University of Pittsburgh, say that almost all
vaccines are made from a dead virus and are meant to train your body how to defend itself from the real thing. But, outside of the possibility of a bit of pain at the injection site, “dead” vaccinations will not actually infect you.

EB: It’s especially important to dispel myths in the Black community, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that folks in the African American community are less vaccinated than
their White counterparts. We need to increase outreach and awareness around immunization/ vaccinations in communities of color. We need to rally together. The Urban League is committed to

BS: I like the idea of  rallying, especially as Dr. Zimmerman points out that people tend to get their vaccines when people in their circles do. Social influence turns into habit, and the two combined help to shape a  positive attitude about immunizations. More people are likely to get in line for their vaccines.

EB: Thank you so much for having this conversation with me, Bee. We’ve provided some great information and ways that readers can take charge of their health today. I look forward to next month as  we discuss heart health and preeclampsia.