Dr. Zeljko Radulovic, assistant professor of biology at Northwestern State University’s School of Biological and Physical Sciences, gave an interesting and educational presentation titled “Immunization: Should We Be Scared of Vaccines?” in a partnership between the school and the Natchitoches Parish Library, Tuesday, January 28 at the main library branch. The talk, first in a planned series of presentations on scientific areas intended for the general public, started with a brief introduction into how the immune system works and then explained about the various types of vaccines and how they function. Along the way, the attendees learned some interesting historical tidbits such as immunization pioneer Edward Jenner’s experiments with smallpox, a dangerous killer up unto the last century, now eradicated from the planet. They also learned of the origin of the word vaccination from the Latin word for cow, vaccus. Dr. Jenner made a breakthrough in medicine when he noticed that people who worked around cows often contracted cowpox, a virus related to smallpox, but much less virulent, but did not come down with smallpox. He inoculated people with material from cowpox pustules and thus kept them from contracting smallpox.
Dr. Radulovic also answered questions from the audience. In the final part of the presentation, he debunked unfortunately persistent myths about immunizations causing autism and containing poisons. He also explained the concept of “herd immunity” in which a high immunization rate is not only beneficial for the individual immunized, but beneficial to society as a whole by protecting people such as newborns, pregnant women and immunocompromised persons who cannot receive immunizations. The answer to the question posed in the title of Dr. Zeljko’s talk is an emphatic no!
The Natchitoches Parish Journal wishes to commend the NSU School of Biological and Physical Sciences for their outreach efforts. In everything from their lighthearted social media page and videos to talks such as this one, the school is exploring new ways to promote the study and appreciation of science to people of every age. One can easily see that they love their fields and their enthusiasm is contagious. The Journal also wishes to commend the parish library for making their facilities available to the school of Biological and Physical Sciences. The library has an eclectic range of community programs for every interest and every age.