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Unit 3: Health


Unit Three Essential/Guiding Questions             

Essential Question:

What factors influence your relationship with your health?

Guiding Questions:

How do you define health?

How does culture influence medicine?

How medicine influence culture?

What do you do to support your health?

What factors influence the decisions you make about your health?


The Vaccine Wars

Examining the emotionally charged debate over medical risks vs. benefits and a parent's right to make choices about her child vs. a community's common good...

Vaccines have changed the world, largely eradicating a series of terrible diseases, from smallpox to polio to diphtheria, and likely adding decades to most of our life spans. But despite the gains -- and numerous scientific studies indicating vaccine safety -- a growing movement of parents remains fearful of vaccines. And in some American communities, significant numbers of parents have been rejecting vaccines altogether, raising new concerns about the return of vaccine-preventable diseases like measles and whooping cough.

In The Vaccine War, FRONTLINE lays bare the science of vaccine safety and examines the increasingly bitter debate between the public health establishment and a formidable populist coalition of parents, celebrities, politicians and activists who are armed with the latest social media tools -- including Facebook, YouTube and Twitter -- and are determined to resist pressure from the medical and public health establishments to vaccinate, despite established scientific consensus about vaccine safety. You can read more here... 

The Alternative Fix

The myriad of alternative and complementary therapies all share an approach to healing that aims to harness the innate healing power of the body and emphasizes practical results rather than rational, theoretical explanations. In these excerpts from their interviews, medical historian James Whorton, alternative practitioner Andrew Weil and conventional doctor—and skeptic—Marcia Angell discuss and critique this "alternative" worldview.


Science or Snake Oil?

Even after ten years of federally funded research, very little is known about whether most alternative therapies work at all and which methods are safe. Watch the video, and  in these excerpts from their FRONTLINE interviews, researchers, practioners and skeptics discuss the scant evidence we have and why it's so hard to come by. 


How Are Vaccines Made??

Vaccines work by generating an immune response in the body against some kind of pathogen—a virus, bacterium, or some other agent that causes a disease. A vaccine exposes the immune system to a less-threatening version of the pathogen and, in effect, primes it to recognize and quickly eliminate a more dangerous version should it ever invade the body. Here, see how various kinds of vaccines are made. How are vaccines made? Create six vaccines in our virtual laboratory, using a different technique to produce each one.