To Vaccinate or Not to
That is the question
This case study explores the issues
surrounding the necessity and
consequences of vaccination. The case
was prompted by a newspaper story about
a couple who refused on religious grounds
to have their son vaccinated even though
vaccination is a requirement for admission
to the public schools.
Julie Smith was quite concerned. She had returned from a routine checkup for her four-
week-old daughter Jennifer. The pediatrician, Dr. Allgood, had informed Julie that he
would begin giving Jennifer her first set of vaccinations at her next appointment in a
Julie phoned her friends and her mother to see what thought she should do. She kept
hearing herself saying, “I don’t know what to do.”
Her mother reminded her “You were vaccinated as a child and you didn’t have any
In another conversation she found herself recalling personal stories “You know my friend
Heather? Her oldest son Sam had a seizure after getting the DTP shot when he was
Jennifer’s age. And what about that couple on television that said the rubella vaccine was
responsible for their son’s autism?”
“The media hypes up skeptics, I don’t believe them,” replied her friend, “but Sam was
vaccinated ten years ago. If the vaccine was really the problem, I’m sure they would have
a different vaccine now. You know the oral polio vaccine also had problems and they
made changes to that vaccination. ” This was somewhat reassuring, but Julie still wasn’t
“But there are so many shots and, besides, the diseases they prevent have practically
disappeared, so why do I have to have Jennifer vaccinated?”
“Jennifer will be required to show evidence of vaccination before she’ll be allowed to go to
school and perhaps even some daycare centers. Don’t you remember the article in the
Buffalo News about the couple whose son wasn’t allowed to register for school because
he hadn’t had his vaccinations? His parents said they had refused to have him vaccinated
for religious reasons.” Julie thought, maybe I should use that excuse…
This case presents many of the issues facing parents when they need to begin the
vaccination series for their child. Julie wants to do what is best for her child and she wants
to make her decision based on scientific fact not emotional rhetoric.
What are the issues raised about vaccination by this case study and what kind of
information will help Paula make an informed decision about vaccinating her
In order to address the general questions posed by this case study, you will individually
research information on the disease(s) caused by a particular microbe and the vaccine
that is used for it. Address the following questions for the microbe and vaccine that you
have been assigned:
Group I: DTP vaccine
Group II: MMR vaccine
Group III: Influenza vaccine
Group IV: Varicella vaccine
Group V: IPV (inactivate polio vaccine)
1. Why get vaccinated?
o What disease (s) does this vaccine protect against?
o What are the consequences of those diseases?
o What type of vaccine is this?
2. Who should get vaccinated?
o Who should not get vaccinated?
3. What are the risks from this vaccination?
o What are the mild problems?
o Are there moderate or severe problems associated with this vaccination?
4. What should a parent/caretaker do in the event of a severe reaction or injury?
o Is there compensation if someone has been harmed?
After answering these questions for your assigned vaccination we will discuss them as a
Can you identify:
what type of organism (virus, bacteria or fungus) has the most vaccines against it
a very common side effect of commonly used vaccines
a very common contraindication (reason not to get vaccinated) for different
some misconceptions about vaccine use
religious reasons for not vaccinating
who compensation is received from if there is a serious injury as a result of a
Follow up take home assignment:
Create a 1 page brochure (about the vaccination which you have been assigned) for a
parent concerned about vaccination.