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A Case Study Involving Influenza and the Influenza Vaccine


John S. Bennett
College of Natural and Health Sciences
University of Wisconsin – Parkside


This interrupted case study presents a discussion about the benefits of the influenza vaccine between Mary, a nursing student, and her coworker, Karen. Karen is not convinced by Mary’s arguments in favor of vaccination, and she counters with several common rationalizations for not getting the vaccine. Students work in small groups to evaluate the arguments for and against vaccination from the perspective of each woman. In addressing the questions in the case, students learn about the general biology of viral infections, treatment of infections, and immunity. The case was designed for use in an entry-level course in microbiology for nursing students or a first-year biology course for majors.

  • Identify the symptoms associated with influenza.
  • Distinguish influenza from other infectious diseases.
  • Recognize that the influenza vaccine does not protect against all illnesses that might be commonly identified as “flu.”
  • Understand that the flu vaccine is not recommended for all people while others are considered “high risk” individuals.
  • Recognize that antibiotics are for bacterial, not viral infections, and that secondary bacterial infections (which can be treated with antibiotics) sometimes follow a primary viral infection.
  • (For nursing students) Address the misinformation that they will encounter among people who choose not to get vaccinated for influenza.
Keywords: Influenza; flu; vaccine; vaccination; antibiotics; antigenic drift; antigenic shift; genetic shift; genetic drift; viral infection; bacterial infection; infectious disease
Topical Area: N/A
Educational Level: High school, Undergraduate lower division, General public & informal education
Formats: PDF
Type/Method: Interrupted, Role-Play
Language: English
Subject Headings: Microbiology   Nursing   Public Health   Biology (General)   Medicine (General)  
Date Posted: 05/06/08
Date Modified: N/A
Copyright: Copyright held by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Please see our usage guidelines, which outline our policy concerning permissible reproduction of this work.

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