Madam Secretary Fights Fake Vaccine News

Secretary of State Téa Leoni supports vaccine schedule adherence

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The measles virus made a guest appearance as the villain on the March 24, 2019, episode of CBS’s TV show Madam Secretary.

This show is a drama about a fictional Secretary of State, played by Téa Leoni. 

The script of season 5, episode 17, captured the risks of vaccine hesitancy and showcases the power of a fictional TV show to communicate facts.

This TV episode reached 5.8 million people. 

Before the worldwide measles outbreak started making national news in 2018, the Madam Secretary production team had a vaccination-centric episode in the works. 

In this Madam Secretary episode, one of the co-stars ‘Daisy’ asked the parents ‘why they didn’t vaccinate their child.’ The father didn’t say much, but the mother said that she thought that measles had been eradicated. 

This statement is or was accurate. 

Measles was declared eliminated from the United States in 2000, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).   

This achievement was thanks to a highly effective vaccination program in the United States, as well as better measles control in the Americas region. 

Later in the TV show, the mother said that there was so much confusing information on the internet, she decided it was safer to not vaccinate her daughter. 

This character was relying on ‘herd-immunity’ to protect her child. 

Herd immunity is the indirect protection against disease that results from a sufficient number of individuals in a community having immunity to that disease. 

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With enough immune individuals, the transmission of a disease can be reduced, thus limiting the potential for any one individual to be exposed to it. 

When 'President Dalton', played by Keith Carradine, asked his team to pursue a federal edict regarding vaccination policy, which would override the current Federalist system, he was actually correct.  

Regarding nationwide infectious disease outbreaks, the National Emergencies Act (NEA) authorizes the United States president to declare a “national emergency.”

The federal government derives its authority for isolation and quarantine from the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services is authorized to take measures to prevent the entry and spread of communicable diseases from foreign countries into the United States and between states.   

Recent research says this ‘fake-vaccine-news’ is a real problem. 

But, this is an issue that can be resolved in various ways:

Correcting misinformation about the vaccines is hard, and the academic literature provides mixed signals about approaches to tackling this problem, reported a study published in December 2018.     

The best evidence suggests that the most effective way of dealing with vaccine misinformation…is not spreading it in the first place. 

This means, people often benefit from receiving the right information, at the right time, from a healthcare provider they trust. 

Measles is highly contagious and spreads through coughing and sneezing. Make sure you and your child are protected with the measles, mumps, and rubella, MMR or Proquad vaccines. 

Vaccines are similar to any prescription product and can cause side-effects. The CDC says to report substantive health issues to your healthcare provider, or to the CDC.