URI pharmacy students shoot, star in videos to promote vaccination

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KINGSTON, R.I. – April 10, 2015 – While pharmacists are known for working behind the counter, Jeffrey Bratberg a University of Rhode Island pharmacy professor also gave his students a chance to get behind the camera.

Communicating Vaccines, a pharmacy elective course, focuses on identification, prevention and control of infectious diseases that pose threats to public health. Students in the class were not only tasked with completing reading assignments but with producing their own videos to promote positive information about vaccines.

“This class provided me with the tools to be able to talk to a vaccine hesitant parent or patient and answer any questions, dispel myths and ensure they have all the necessary and accurate information to make the best decision. I definitely feel more comfortable engaging with these patients and having a discussion about vaccines,” said Erin Tibbetts, a 5th year pharmacy major from Tewksbury, MA.

Students were split into six teams, and each was assigned to answer a vaccine related question in a 90-to-120-second video. The student pharmacist teams conducted research, drafted and finalized a storyboard for the filming and editing, and wrote a script for the actors. They also prepared voice-overs, and text for the videos. A national pro-vaccine parents group worked with the students and featured one of the videos on its website.

“This is the fifth time my class has partnered with film studies students,” Bratberg said. The pharmacy students produced the content, while the film studies students did all the technical work. The pharmacy students learned what it is like to have a producer and the film students learned what it was like to work with someone who is their vendor for their product.”

The six teams were asked to collaboratively draft, edit, finalize, and distribute written, video, and/or audio marketing content suitable for social media, television, or advertising that highlights prevention of, preparedness for, or response to a public health infectious disease concern. The specific questions the teams had to answer focused on the safety of vaccines, vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks, ingredients in vaccines and the importance of vaccines.

“Our video project was a 2-minute long public service announcement on the ingredients in vaccines and correcting the myths surrounding this issue. The video was set up to show a concerned parent questioning her doctor on whether she should vaccinate her child due to all the ‘chemicals and toxicities’ included in vaccines. We gave examples of common ingredients such as formaldehyde and explained a person metabolizes more formaldehyde eating a pear than all the vaccines they will receive in their lifetime,” said Jada Taglione, a 5th year pharmacy student from Westerly, R.I.