Vaccines and the Social Good

As discussions around the COVID-19 vaccine take center stage, VUMC’s leading voices in immunology and infectious disease are front and center promoting a greater understanding of what vaccines are and how they strengthen community health. In “Pandemics versus Prosperity,” episode two of the Vanderbilt Health DNA: Discoveries in Action podcast, the experts praise this pillar of modern medicine and describe the countless ways the science has improved lives, from eradicating smallpox to virtually eliminating polio mellitus to decreasing the destructive effects of measles and other infectious diseases around the world.

During the podcast, the panel of world-renowned physician-scientists—Drs. James Crowe, Buddy Creech, Mark Denison and William Schaffer—explain how vaccines work in the body and detail their safety and efficacy. They also tackle what they believe has led to an alarming rise in vaccine hesitancy and share why they want to collaborate with educators and communicators to more effectively explain the science. 

Despite vaccinations being one of science's greatest achievements, “vaccine hesitancy” was named by the World Health Organization as one of the Top Ten Global Health Threats. This threat, commonly known as the “Anti-Vaxx” movement, could subject millions worldwide to the devastation of preventable diseases.

“I think we’re a victim of our own success,” theorizes Dr. Creech, Director of the Vanderbilt Vaccine Research Program and Associate Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases. Dr. Schaffner, a professor in multiple VUMC departments and Medical Director and past president of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, makes a pitch for how he wants to change the perception of vaccines by concentrating on more education in schools at earlier ages.

Listen to podcast here.