Heart disease is the #1 killer in the U.S. The most common type of heart disease is the narrowing or blockage of the coronary arteries, blood vessels that supply blood to the heart. This coronary artery disease is the main cause of heart attacks.
Image: Ruptured aorta damaged from heart disease.
When your parents argue about getting flu shots for the family and your science class starts to study the immune system, you think you had better find out more about vaccines. You know some vaccines have prevented major diseases, but the flu vaccine just doesn’t seem to work all the time. What’s going on? You start to think about other questions about vaccines:
Can other vaccines—the ones for polio, mumps, and diphtheria—just not work too?
Might you be susceptible to polio and mumps even though you already got immunized?
How does one shot keep you from getting a disease?
Why don’t they have vaccines for all diseases?
Find out the answers in this case-based learning module.
Your mom and dad are arguing while are you are getting ready for school. You don’t pay much attention to them until you hear them talking about your getting shots of some kind.
“Hey, what’s going on?" you say, interrupting the argument. "Why would I have to get a shot? I just had my physical for the soccer team, and I was fine! I don’t want a shot,“
“I think you and your brothers and sisters should get flu shots,” your mom replies.
“And I don’t,” your dad says.
“The school system is strongly recommending that all students get shots after last year’s epidemic," Mom says. "Don’t you remember when 60 percent of the kids in the high school were missing school at one point, and they closed schools in the entire county to try to cut down on passing the flu around?”
“I remember that I got the flu shot and still got the flu!” Dad replies. “What good was that? Why should we all go to the doctor and bother getting shots when you know the kids are going to cry about it, and it doesn’t work anyway?”
“The health department is also strongly recommending it for some population groups—especially the elderly,” Mom says. “We don’t want Grandma getting the flu because we bring it into the house! You know they say she’s more at risk.”
“Why don’t I just take some antibiotics if I get sick—like I did last year with that sinus infection? I got better pretty fast with those, and it didn’t take a shot, “ you add.
“They just don’t give antibiotics for everything, you know,” Mom says. “If it were that simple, they wouldn’t be recommending the flu shot.”
You leave for school with the matter still not settled, but your dad seems to be wearing down. You don’t like that very much.
Later, in science class your teacher starts to talk about vaccines and how they work. You think you might learn something that would help decide the issue at home. You bring up your parents’ argument and ask why your dad’s shot didn’t work.
No one in your class knows the answer to the question, but your classmates are now more interested in vaccines than they were before. Your teacher suggests that you need to find out the answers before you decide you don’t want another immunization. You just might change your mind.
1. Your teacher will organize your class into teams. Research the topic so that you can answer not only your classmates’ questions, but also your parents’ concerns. Work with your team members to generate a list of questions that will help guide your research, such as:
- Can other vaccines—the ones for polio and mumps and diptheria—just not work too?
- Might you be susceptible to polio and mumps without even know it?
- Is your grandmother more at risk just because she’s old?
- How does one shot keep you from getting a disease?
- Why don’t they have vaccines for all diseases?
- Why don’t antibiotics work on influenza?
2. Be able to report to the class any scientific knowledge you would need to make an informed decision about getting an immunization.
3. Relate your findings on the flu vaccine to the ongoing controversy about other vaccines. A link has been suggested between some childhood vaccines and autism. There is also some controversy about the recommendation that preadolescents receive the immunization for HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) in order to reduce the risk of getting cervical cancer.
4. After you find out the information you need to make informed decisions about immunizations, decide how you feel about these controversial vaccines. Would you get the vaccines? Would you recommend them to others? Defend your position.