National Press Club

Vaccines at the Crossroads: Outbreaks on the Rise Across America

Vaccines at the Crossroads: Outbreaks on the Rise Across America

September 4, 2014 9:30 AM

Location: First Amendment Lounge

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Vaccines at the CrossroadsDiseases largely eradicated in the United States a generation ago are returning. Measles was declared eliminated in 2000, yet the CDC reports 593 confirmed cases in 2014 as of August 15—the highest incidence in 20 years. In July, California’s public health department declared whooping cough a problem of “epidemic proportions.”

Across America, children are getting sick and dying from these preventable diseases—in part because some parents (more than 10 percent) choose to skip or delay their children’s immunizations. What are parents’ biggest concerns? What are the risks to the child and society when people decide to forego immunization?

The National Press Club Journalism Institute, in partnership with NOVA and Tangled Bank Studios, will co-host a media briefing, Vaccines at the Crossroads, on these questions and trends. The panel will include experts on vaccines and vaccination issues and the producers of an upcoming show on the PBS NOVA program: Vaccines – Calling the Shots, which will air September 10.

Panelists include:

  • Dr. Paul Offit, leading pediatrician and chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases and Director of the Vaccine Education Center at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, author of several books on vaccines and immunizations;
  • Dr. Brian Zikmund-Fisher, Associate Professor of Health Behavior and Health Education at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, a leading expert in health risk communication and the psychology of medical decision-making;
  • Sonya Pemberton, writer, director and executive producer of Vaccines - Calling the Shots, and Creative Director of Genepool Productions of Melbourne and Sydney, Australia, who spent four years researching and producing an Australian version and now the American version of this film;
  • Joe Lawlor, health reporter for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram in Portland, who recently authored an extensive two-part series followed by an editorial resulting in one of the largest reader online response rate of any series; and,
  • Michael Rosenfeld, executive producer of Vaccines – Calling the Shots, head of Tangled Bank Studios and former president of National Geographic Television, who will moderate the panel.

About the National Press Club Journalism Institute: The non-profit affiliate of the National Press Club, the Institute is committed to offering innovative, practical training to journalists and communications professionals working in a rapidly changing media environment. Its broad range of professional development programs focus on high standards, ethical conduct and best practices in the journalism business.

About NOVA: Now in its 41st season, NOVA is the most-watched prime time science series on American television, reaching an average of five million viewers weekly. The series remains committed to producing in-depth science programming in the form of documentaries, from the latest breakthroughs in technology to the deepest mysteries of the natural world. NOVA airs Wednesdays at
9pm ET/PT on most PBS stations.

About Tangled Bank Studios: Tangled Bank Studios is a production company established and funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute as an extension of its longstanding science education mission. Dedicated to the creation of original science documentaries for broadcast, theatrical and digital distribution, the company aims to produce programs that capture compelling stories of discovery across all branches of scientific inquiry.

Contact: Julie Schoo, (202) 662-7507
Anne Zeiser, (781) 342-5142

For more information about the NOVA show Vaccines: Calling the Shots, go to or contact Eileen Campion, at Roslan & Campion Public Relations, 212-966-4600 or Jennifer Welsh, NOVA/WGBH,

For More Information On This Event, Contact:

Julie Schoo