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How well do scientists communicate with the public about vaccine safety?

WHO:
Paul A. Offit, M.D., director of the Vaccine Education Center and chief of Infectious Diseases at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, is an internationally prominent expert on immunology and vaccine safety.

WHAT:
Dr. Offit will address "Science, Politics and the Media" during the panel on Public Perception of Vaccine Risks at the AAAS Vaccine Seminar. He will discuss how scientists convey findings to the public, using the case of the discredited link between autism and the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine.

WHEN:
Saturday, Feb. 14, 9 a.m. to noon, American Association for the Advancement of Science Annual Meeting, Ballroom 6A, Washington State Convention and Trade Center, Seattle, Washington

WHY:
While a great public health achievement, vaccines may be victims of their own success, as the public often seems less concerned about the real dangers of vaccine-preventable diseases than about the rare risks of vaccine-induced injury. The Vaccine Education Center at Children's Hospital (vaccine.chop.edu) was founded in 2000 to provide up-to-date science-based information about vaccines and the diseases they prevent.

In 3 recent articles in the journal Pediatrics, Dr. Offit reviewed the best scientific evidence bearing on specific parental concerns about vaccine safety. That evidence shows that vaccines do not weaken the infant immune system, do not cause allergic or autoimmune diseases, and that mercury and other preservatives found in trace amounts in vaccines do not injure children.

HOW:
Dr. Offit is available for interviews immediately following the panel and throughout the afternoon, Saturday, Feb. 14, at the AAAS meeting. Call John Ascenzi, Children's Hospital, at 267-426-6055 before Feb. 14 or at 215-808-7139 (cell phone) on Feb. 14. Press registration at the AAAS can be done on-site at the Press Center on the main floor of
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Contact: John Ascenzi
Ascenzi@email.chop.edu
267-426-6055
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
14-Feb-2004


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