Disneyland, Measles, and Parents’ Choice Not to Vaccinate


Tuesday, May 17, 2016, 12:00pm to 1:00pm


Research and Education Building (REB) Auditorium

A conversation with CA State Senator Dr. Richard Pan and Dr. Brittany Seymour

The social nature of today’s Internet has led to new public health and policy challenges. People are creating and sharing more information (and misinformation) online than ever before. In 2014, the US experienced the largest measles outbreak in nearly a generation, with many cases linked to unvaccinated Disneyland visitors. Misinformation online about vaccines was recognized as one of the contributing factors to this outbreak. 

Through the leadership of State Senator and pediatrician Dr. Richard Pan, California passed Senate Bill 277, which eliminated religious and personal belief exemptions to legally required vaccines for California school students. In this session, Dr. Pan will tell the story of his first hand experience managing the deadly 1991 measles outbreak in Philadelphia, which resulted in the death of nine children. He will speak about the spectrum of responses to his new legislation in CA, ranging from recognition as a TIME Hero in Vaccine History to death threats from local citizens. Communication researchers from MIT and Harvard will facilitate conversation as we tackle some of public health’s toughest questions. What role does the Internet play in influencing health and disease? How can public health experts prevent the spread of misinformation, and ensure better protection of our communities through improved health communication and strong evidence-based policies? RSVP required to attend in person

This event is co-sponsored by the Harvard School of Dental Medicine and the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.