Murray teen’s vaccination project goes viral
Mar 27, 2019 04:00PM
● By Shaun Delliskave
Brekke Pattison visits a pregnancy resource center with information from her Gold Award project. (Photo courtesy Brekke Pattison)
By Shaun Delliskave | [email protected]
The Girl Scout Gold Award is not only the organization’s most prestigious award but also the most difficult to earn. There are many girls who have earned the award, but one Murray girl is getting national recognition for her Gold Award project.
Brekke Pattison, a senior at Murray High School, has been a Girl Scout for 13 years. In addition to being a clarinet player with the Murray Band, and hanging out playing video games with friends, she was able to earn the Girl Scouts’ top honor.
“My Girl Scout Gold Award project was Vacc-U-Cation: An Education on the Science of Vaccines. My project was directed to the vaccine-hesitant and attempts to clear up misunderstandings that exist towards vaccines,” said Pattison.
For a project to qualify for a Gold Award, Girl Scouts must show leadership by working on one of a broad range of the most challenging problems facing the world today—from human trafficking to ocean pollution to education access to expanded STEM training for girls in underserved communities.
“I created my website, www.vaccucation.org, to make this information accessible to everyone. I addressed the science of vaccines by being specific but also using words that are easy to understand. I also included a YouTube video on how vaccines teach your body to fight diseases,” noted Pattison.
Misinformation about vaccines spread through the Internet has spurred unfounded rumors. A significant number of people have either put off vaccinating their children or have outright refused to vaccinate their children due to confusion about the actual risks of vaccines.
“I chose this project because a family friend had a son born prematurely. He was born safely, but his vaccinations were scheduled based on his due date,” remarked Pattison. “During the period of time between his birth and his vaccinations, he caught whooping cough. His family did nothing wrong, but I want to keep people who are susceptible to diseases safe.”
Pattison met with the medical director of immunology at ARUP Laboratories and learned about how vaccines work. She also had to learn to communicate effectively with people who may not appreciate or comprehend her message.
“The hardest part was expressing the answers to these people in a kind and educational way, even when they were being aggressive and unpleasant.”
Pattison’s kindness and hard work paid off after she posted her video and website online in September 2018, and the results have been, well, viral.
Dr. John Kaplan, a professor of molecular and cellular physiology at New York’s Albany Medical College, saw Pattison’s video and loved it. “I have linked your page to the Facebook page of the Alden March Bioethics Institute at Albany Medical College,” he wrote.
“My project has been used by a local, major hospital’s NICU. Several nursing and medical schools use Vacc-U-Cation in their online materials, and health professionals on a global scale use it. It has been shared on various groups and Facebook pages around the world,” said Pattison. “I have been recognized by the Girl Scouts of Utah at their annual Recognition of Excellence.”
She also acknowledges that she couldn’t have done this all on her own. “One of the best mentors in my life from Girl Scouts was Edith Gates. This amazing woman taught me how to speak my voice and to present my opinions to a group of people. Edith set me on the path that helped me join the GSU News Crew, earn my Gold Award, and become a leader that younger Girl Scouts look up to.”
Pattison plans to go to college and medical school after graduation this year, and, as you might have guessed, wants to become a pediatrician. She may be in good company: one of the comments left on her website stated, “As a pediatrician and Girl Scout troop leader, I applaud your efforts. Great work!”