Usually, a visit from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is a reason for concern. However, this past week CDC representatives who visited BYU’s College of Nursing were not responding to an epidemic, but were instead meeting with associate professor Dr. Beth Luthy and assistant teaching professor Lacey Eden to discuss their work on vaccine awareness for future CDC educational videos.
“We came out here to highlight them as vaccine advocates and show us what they’re doing to prepare future leaders to be vaccine advocates and what they’re doing for risk communication and vaccine hesitant parents,” says Jennifer Hamborsky, a Health Education Specialist at the CDC and one of the principal authors of the CDC’s famous “Pink Book,” a textbook on vaccine-preventable diseases.
The CDC—a federal organization described as the nation’s health protection agency—is well known for responding to disease outbreaks such as Zika and Ebola. However, the CDC’s work includes many other facets of public health, including promoting vaccination use among Americans.
That coincides with the efforts of Luthy and Eden, who are heavily involved in educating the public on the importance of vaccinations. Luthy was appointed by President Obama to serve on the Advisory Commission for Childhood Vaccines and continues to serve as its interim head. Eden played a critical role in the passing of Utah House Bill 308, which requires parents who choose to exempt their children from vaccinations to complete an educational module, developed by Eden and her student team, which teaches about the risks associated with not being vaccinated.
The CDC representatives arrived early Wednesday to begin the process of conducting filmed interviews with Luthy, Eden, and a handful of students and other faculty. After touring the Mary Jane Rawlinson Geertsen Nursing Learning Center (NLC), however, the representatives decided to do a separate filming about the quality of the NLC for use in a different set of videos while still interviewing Luthy and Eden.
“The expected outcomes are that there will be several video resources for health care providers and there will be also video resources that will go into an undergraduate nursing curriculum IRUN (immunization resources for undergraduate nursing),” Hamborsky said.
Most of the day was spent filming the NLC and interviewing Luthy and Eden, including a special focus on both Eden’s module and a children’s book written by Luthy about the importance of vaccinations. The experience was a pleasant one for all parties involved, and all are hopeful that the visit will produce meaningful results in the world of vaccination promotion.
“Beth and Lacey are clearly superstars and the facility is wonderful and state of the art,” Hamborsky said, “It’s just really been great to have the opportunity to be here to be able to highlight the great work that they’re doing so that now we’ll be able to share their work, not that it hasn’t already been, but we’ll be able to share it nationally.”
“It was surreal to be interviewed by the leaders of the immunization world,” Eden says. “I felt a feeling of validation that all of our hard work is making a difference.”