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USU's Science Unwrapped Series To Look Into Vaccine Fears


This month, USU’s Science Unwrapped program will be looking at vaccine fears. 

“As long as there have been vaccines, there has been opposition to vaccine. Wakefield stirred it up again, more recently, in the last 20 years, and it hasn't gone away. And it probably will persist,” said Thayne Sweeten, a neurobiologist and biology professor at Utah State University.

Sweeten said he knows first-hand about vaccine fears– he wasn’t vaccinated as a child due to his parents’ fears. He said this helped him approach his research into autism and immune mechanisms with an open mind.

Sweeten said although his and others’ research has debunked any connection between the MMR vaccine and autism, people still fear vaccines. He thinks it is largely due to vaccine successes.

“People haven't seen the devastation that has been in the wake of these diseases. And therefore, all they see are needles and potential side effects. And they, you know, they fear that,” Sweeten said.

Although his Science Unwrapped presentation was planned before the pandemic to talk about vaccines and autism, he also plans on speaking about the new COVID vaccines. He said it is important because of the terrible impacts from the pandemic and the hope for relief that vaccines bring.

“We right now have to say, should I get that vaccine?” said Sweeten. “Is it worth it? Is there the risks and the benefits in balance? What should I do?”

Sweeten said it is important that people have the opportunity to learn the facts and what the scientific data indicates and because of that, he will be answering questions as part of his presentation which will be broadcast on Friday.

For more information or to access the broadcast, visit