Enhancing parental knowledge about vaccine science is one strategy for promoting vaccination adherence and overcoming vaccine hesitancy. An alternative approach is to target school-aged children as they are the parents of the future.
In a session on Saturday, October 22, sponsored by the AAP Section on Infectious Diseases, Paul Offit, MD, FAAP, introduced pediatricians to a soon-to-be launched educational program for children, adolescents, and teenagers that is being developed by the Vaccine Education Center of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in collaboration with Medical History Pictures.
“In general, children receive no education about vaccines, and the extent of their knowledge is that vaccination hurts,” said Offit, professor, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Infectious Diseases, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.
“Schools provide a great opportunity to demystify vaccines. The aim of this project is to provide education beginning at a young age in order to build understanding that vaccines increase immunity, make people strong where they were weak, and give individuals ‘super power’ to resist disease-causing germs,” Offit explained.
The program consists of a series of 5 short educational modules. Each deals with a specific concept, and the topics include immunity, how viruses cause infection, and how vaccines fight the virus.
Three age-appropriate versions are being created that vary in reading level and the amount of detail provided. Content for the modules is derived in part from the film Hilleman: A perilous quest to save the world’s children, a documentary that provides information about vaccine science in the context of the accomplishments of Dr. Maurice Hilleman.
With funding support from the Vaccine Makers Project, the educational materials will be distributed at no cost through schools. Because pediatricians can help promote interest in the topic, Offit said it seemed worthwhile to raise awareness about the program in his session at the AAP meeting.