Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (BS)

Date Information

May 2019

Department

Biology

First Advisor

Amy Sprenkle

Abstract

Evolution has influenced the human immune system and allowed our species to endure amidst numerous plagues, but also to coexist with ubiquitous microbial symbionts on the human animal. Estimates of the ratio of human cells to resident microbial cells in the human body range from 1:1 to 1:10, and within the numerous bacterial species that exist, only a small percentage are pathogenic. The work of the 2018 Nobel Prize winners in Physiology or Medicine allowed for the production of new tools to understand how to stimulate the immune system to fight cancerous cells; human cells gone ‘rogue’, through immune checkpoint inhibitors. Though a strong understanding of the immune system is critical for maintaining health and wellness, in certain populations in the US, quality education regarding human health and the immune system is often absent. Today citizens may obtain information about immunizations through their pediatricians but also from the internet, and the potential misinformation distributed there by anti-vaccination groups. Since immunization campaigns have been successful in decreasing the prevalence of serious disease in the US, the fear of falsely claimed adverse effects of vaccination outweighs the fear of contracting the disease and may lead parents to choose not to immunize their children.

It is proposed to create an online resource that has the power to bridge the gap between quick conversations pediatricians allot with parents and the misinformation of dense internet resources. This educational tool examines the components of the human biome, the immunization schedule for children, and myths which have given immunizations a negative connotation. Just as the adaptive immune system is educated by immunizations to fight against disease, parents will obtain the power to impact the lives of their children through knowledge of how the immune system works to make informed decisions about their children’s future health.

Included in

Biology Commons

COinS