National Press Club

Panel to examine return of infectious diseases at media briefing Sept. 4

August 27, 2014 | By Nicole Hoffman |

The National Press Club Journalism Institute will co-host a media briefing on questions and trends relating to the alarming return of infectious diseases in the Club's First Amendment Lounge on Thursday, Sept. 4, at 9:30 a.m.

The briefing, entitled "Vaccines at the Crossroads: Outbreaks on the Rise Across America," comes amid an upsurge in diseases that were largely eradicated a generation ago. Measles, for example, was declared eliminated in 2000, yet the CDC reports 593 confirmed cases in 2014 as of Aug. 15 -- the highest incidence in 20 years.

In July, California’s public health department declared whooping cough a problem of “epidemic proportions.”

Across the United States, 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 Sept. 4 briefing, which the Journalism Institute will co-host in partnership with NOVA and Tangled Bank Studios, will examine these and other questions. Participating will be a panel of experts on vaccines and vaccination issues, as well as the producers of an upcoming show on the PBS NOVA program: "Vaccines – Calling the Shots," which will air Sept. 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.

RSVP here to attend.