Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Vax Matters podcast explores facts, myths, misconceptions around vaccines

Vax Matters, a new podcast series from the Louisiana Department of Health’s (LDH) Immunization Program, has released the first three episodes in a planned 36-podcast series over the coming year.

The podcast, with a new episode being released every two weeks, will take a deep dive and explore the history and future of vaccines, as well as address facts, misconceptions and myths on a variety of immunization topics.

In each episode, host Diane Deaton, a former TV personality and weathercaster for WAFB 9News in Baton Rouge, along with a guest host, will speak with medical and infectious disease experts from Louisiana, as well as across the country, to address that episode’s topic.

In a two-part episode just released, Deaton and guest host Deon Guillory speak with Dr. Frank Welch, a leading national expert on immunizations and former medical director for Emergency Preparedness at LDH, on the history of vaccines. During the episodes, Dr. Welch walks listeners through the origin of modern vaccines beginning with smallpox through the polio epidemic. Welch explains why some vaccines are grouped and how it is decided which flu strain will be used each year for the vaccine.

Dr. Welch also discusses how vaccines are developed today and the progress we have seen in the last few years and the medical research and tests that are conducted before a vaccine is ever approved.

“I think it's important in society that we recognize the difference between an opinion and scientific research and scientific fact,” Dr. Welch concluded.

In another of the episodes released, Deaton and Guillory speak with Dr. Joseph Kanter, the state health officer at LDH, to discuss the COVID vaccine and recount the past two years of living during the current pandemic. Dr. Kanter will take us behind the scenes as LDH and hospitals responded to the outbreak over the past two years, how the pandemic has impacted our lives and the role vaccines have played during that time.

“To have a vaccine developed from start to finish with full safety and efficacy testing in less than a year from the time that this virus entered this country is nothing short of miraculous,” Dr. Kanter said in Episode 1 of Vax Matters. “I think these companies deserve a lot of credit for helping save lives. We would (have) lost thousands and thousands of more lives in the second year of this pandemic if we had to deal with it without the tool of these vaccines.”

Dr. Kanter also talks about the importance of the vaccine and other FDA-approved tools that are available or will become available in the coming months to fight COVID.

Future topics will look at vaccine mistrust among minorities, vaccines and fertility, how outbreaks happen, and more detailed looks at our most common and well-known vaccines.

In the trailer for the Vax Matters podcast, Deaton introduces the podcast by saying, “For decades, vaccines were something most of us probably didn’t give much thought to. Then COVID happened and suddenly vaccines were all we thought about. Today, facts about vaccines matter more than ever.”

Vax Matters can be found and downloaded on all the top podcast platforms including Apple, Google Podcast, Spotify, Audible and Stitcher.

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