Students packed the room to listen to a debate on the safety and effectiveness of vaccinations at National University on February 26th. The NUHS Naturopathic Medical Students Association (NMSA) sponsored the debate, which was moderated by faculty members Dr. Louise Edwards and Dr. Kristina Conner.
The moderators assumed there might be passionate views from both sides in the audience, and called for an overall attitude of scientific inquiry. They admonished all present that verbal attacks or heated remarks from either side would not be tolerated. True to the university’s culture of professionalism, over one hundred students, representing all of the university’s health degree programs, listened quietly and respectfully to both sides.
Four speakers, two from each side of the issue, presented their evidence for or against the use of vaccines and current vaccine policies.
Advocating caution while questioning the efficacy of vaccines were: Dr. Brad Case, author of “Thugs, Drugs and the War on Bugs,” and family practice resident at NUHS Whole Health Center; and current ND student Jill Jennings, who worked for 18 years in hospitals as an R.N. and is also a vaccine injury victim.
Supporting the effectiveness and public health benefits of vaccination were: NUHS NMSA president Bonnie Brock, who earned a BS in biochemistry from Cornell University, and an MPH and RD from Tulane University, and is now a student in the NUHS ND program; and fellow ND student, Kate Woodall, MS, social justice chair of the NUHS NMSA chapter, who earned her master of science degree in microbiology, and teaches environmental biology at the College of DuPage.
Moderators and speakers encouraged students to educate themselves on both sides of the vaccine issue since, as future health professionals, they will ultimately encounter patients from both sides. Those patients may have questions, concerns or medical histories that might impact a vaccination conversation with their doctor. Also, both sides touched briefly on mitigating risks involved with vaccinations, such as nutritional strategies and staggered vaccination scheduling, in an effort to support the immune system of patients who choose vaccinations.
In addition to both opening a discussion thread and posting debate presentations on the NUHS NMSA Facebook page, the audience supported the moderators’ decision to schedule a second gathering so that the audience could present their own questions and concerns.
National University is proud that its student organizations continue to promote scientific dialogue on a wide variety of topics, contributing to its dynamic educational community.