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Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
April 2020

Can Vaccines Cross the Blood-Brain Barrier?


Video Blood-brain barrier, Parents PACK, April 2020When people think about how the brain is protected, they typically think about the skull. And, while the bones of the skull are an important external protective barrier, people often don’t realize that internal barriers also protect the brain. One of the most important internal barriers is the blood-brain barrier (BBB). 

In this Science Made Easy video, Dr. Offit explains the importance of the blood-brain barrier in protecting the brain from infections caused by viruses and bacteria. He also addresses why we can be reassured that vaccines aren’t likely to cross this important protective barrier, a question some parents have related to vaccine safety. 

News & Notes


COVID-19 and the 1918 influenza pandemic — Learning from our ancestors

The 1918 influenza pandemic caused terror around the world, much like COVID-19 is today. In this article from the Vaccine Education Center’s (VEC) newsletter for healthcare providers, called Vaccine Update, read about what happened a century ago and what lessons we can apply today. 

Trusted resources about COVID-19

The VEC’s “Special Edition — Coronavirus Resources”  webpage provides links to resources from trusted organizations. The types of resources include videos, printable materials, and webpages to help you get accurate information. 

In addition, the VEC offers downloadable resources about how to evaluate information: 

COVID-19 — Misinformation, rumors and scams

As our nation — and our world — grapples with COVID-19, it is important to remember that some people inevitably will take advantage of the situation by spreading misinformation or engaging in scams. While it is always important to critically evaluate information, it’s even more important during times of crisis. Readers should make sure that information is coming from trusted sources and be cognizant of their own behavior, so as not to inadvertently contribute to the spread of misinformation.

Some helpful resources related to myths and scams during the COVID-19 pandemic are available from these trusted sources: 

World Health Organization (WHO)

Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

What happens after a virus gets into the body?

Respiratory viruses, like influenza, measles or COVID-19, are spread when an infected person sneezes or coughs. Virus particles suspended in droplets in the air can be inhaled during close contact or remain viable on surfaces and enter our bodies when we touch the contaminated surface then touch our eyes, nose or mouth. Some people may wonder what happens next. 

These animations, developed by the Vaccine Makers Project, answer that question. First, watch “A Virus Attacks a Cell”  to see how a virus gets into our cells. Then watch “How do Viruses Reproduce?” to see how once a virus gets into a cell, it takes over, causing the cell to become a virus production factory.

Just the Vax Trivia Corner

What annual sporting event was cancelled as a result of the 1919 influenza pandemic?   

  1. The World Series
  2. The Stanley Cup
  3. The NBA Finals
  4. Wimbledon
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