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1133 Getting Immunizations Required by Schools

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Complete Transcript
Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 1,133 – Getting Immunizations Required by Schools.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 1,133. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

Go to ESLPod.com and take a look at our Special Courses in Business and Daily English. You can also like us on Facebook at facebook.com/eslpod. And why not follow us on Twitter – at @eslpod, of course.

This episode is something about immunizations. What are immunizations? Well, you’ll have to listen and find out, won’t you? Let’s get started.

[start of dialogue]

Jonas: Hi, Jenny. Are you getting your kids ready for school, too?

Jenny: Yes, as you can see, we’re buying lots of school supplies.

Jonas: Did you get the school letter reminding parents to submit proof of immunization before the first day of school? I know that your youngest is starting school this year.

Jenny: Yes, she is, but I’m thinking of getting an exemption. I’m not sure vaccines are safe, and I don’t want to take a chance with her health.

Jonas: The immunizations required by the school are standard – measles, mumps, chicken pox, polio – all vaccines your other children have had.

Jenny: But when I looked at the list, there were a few I didn’t recognize – diphtheria, hepatitis, and rubella. Who knows what our kids are getting!

Jonas: The ones you mentioned are standard, too. Don’t you remember the outbreak of whooping cough last year? If our kids had been immunized, they wouldn’t have gotten sick.

Jenny: I’ve read somewhere that vaccines might be dangerous. I just don’t want to jeopardize their future.

Jonas: That’s precisely what you’d be doing if you opted out of immunizations.

Jenny: Why’s that?

Jonas: Because your children won’t be getting an education. The school is barring any children who don’t get immunized from attending school.

Jenny: I call that irresponsible!

Jonas: That’s exactly the word that came to my mind.

[end of dialogue]

Jonas begins by saying to Jenny, “Hi, Jenny. Are you getting your kids ready for school, too?” I suppose Jonas means here getting your kids prepared to go to school. Schools in the United States usually start their classes in the fall – in late August, early September. Jenny says, “Yes, as you can see, we’re buying a lot of school supplies.” “School supplies” would be things like pencils, notebooks, erasers, pens – that sort of thing.

Jonas says, “Did you get the school letter reminding parents to submit proof of immunization before the first day of school?” “Immunization” (immunization) means giving the body the ability to protect itself from a certain disease, either because it has already had that disease, or more likely because it has received what’s called a “vaccine.” A “vaccine” (vaccine) is a medicine that is put into your body that allows your body to fight a particular disease. Usually the idea is that the vaccine will prevent you from getting that disease.

Another way to look at this is that the vaccine is the medicine that is put in your body to prevent you from getting certain diseases. “Immunization” is what happens to your body because of the vaccine. So it’s what happens after you get the vaccine. Your body then has an immunity against a certain disease. However, sometimes people use these two words interchangeably. They talk about getting immunizations. What they really mean is they’re getting vaccines so that their body will have an immunity, an ability to protect itself against a certain disease or diseases.

Okay, where were we? Jonah says, “Did you get the school letter reminding parents to submit” – to give to the school – “proof” – or evidence – “of immunization before the first day of school?” Most schools in the United States require that the parents get their children vaccinated – that is, given these vaccines – against certain common diseases. Jonas says, “I know that your youngest is starting school this year.” He means Jenny’s youngest child.

Jenny says, “Yes, she is, but I’m thinking of getting an exemption.” An “exemption” (exemption) is permission not to follow a certain rule or law because of some sort of special circumstance. Jenny says, “I’m not sure vaccines are safe and I don’t want to take a chance with her health.” We’ve already explained what vaccines are. There are a small number of parents in the U.S. in recent years who have been concerned that the vaccines themselves are somehow not safe, that getting the vaccine might be worse than getting the disease.

Now, almost every doctor will tell you that this isn’t true, but some parents don’t listen to the doctors, and so what happens is they try to get their children into the schools without being vaccinated by getting an exemption. Jonas says, “The immunizations required by the school are standard – measles, mumps, chicken pox, polio – all vaccines your other children have had.” When we say something is “standard,” we mean in this case it’s normal. It’s ordinary. It’s nothing unusual, nothing special.

Jonas then lists the diseases that are typically covered by the vaccinations that schools require. He begins with “measles” (measles). “Measles” is a disease that produces a small red spot on the skin. We would call it a “rash” (rash). It also tends to give the person who has it a “fever” (fever). A fever is when your body’s temperature is higher than it should be.

Another disease that children are vaccinated against is “mumps” (mumps). Mumps is a disease that causes a, what we would call “swelling” – a sudden growth – in the neck area. “Chicken pox” (pox) is a disease that, like measles, produces red spots on the skin. It’s very common among young children. I had chicken pox, I remember, when I was growing up as a child.

Now, the reason that we give these vaccines to children is most of these diseases are what are called “communicable,” which is to say that you can get them from other people. Of course, we don’t want the children giving other children these diseases. That’s why we have the vaccines. Another disease mentioned by Jonas is “polio” (polio) “Polio” can be a very serious disease that causes paralysis – that is, the inability to move your arms and legs and possibly other parts of your body.

Jenny isn’t so sure that she wants to have her daughter getting these vaccines. She says, “But when I looked at the list, there were a few I didn’t recognize – diphtheria, hepatitis, and rubella. Who knows what our kids are getting?” Jenny mentions three other diseases that children might be vaccinated against. “Diphtheria” (diphtheria) is a disease that makes it difficult for a person to swallow. It often causes what we would call a “sore (sore) throat.” If you have a sore throat, it’s difficult for you to swallow. “Diphtheria” often results in a fever as well.

“Hepatitis” (hepatitis) is a disease that can damage your liver. Your liver is a very important organ or part of your body. The third disease Jenny mentions is “rubella” (rubella). “Rubella,” when I was growing up, was called “German measles.” It’s a disease that also produces a red rash or spot or area on your skin and produces a fever, much like measles does.

Jonas says, “The ones you mentioned are standard, too. Don’t you remember the outbreak of whooping cough last year? If our kids had been immunized, they wouldn’t have gotten sick.” An “outbreak” (outbreak) is a sudden increase in a disease, or at least in the number of people, I should say, who have the disease. There could be an outbreak of the flu – of influenza – where many different people are getting the disease.

Jonas mentions another disease, “whopping (whooping) cough (cough).” “To cough” is to do this [coughs]. “Whooping cough” is a disease that produces very strong coughs with a very loud, high-pitched noise. “High-pitched” would be [voice changes] something like this. And “low-pitched” would be [voice changes] something like this. I’m not sure exactly how whooping cough sounds. I’ve never had it or don’t know anyone who has had it.

Interestingly, we use the word “whoop” (whoop) informally in American English to mean a couple of different things. It can mean to defeat or beat someone in a competition. There’s a somewhat vulgar expression that people use, “to whoop someone’s ***,” and the word begins with an “a” and ends with an “s” and it’s only three letters long. You can probably guess what that means.

Anyway, back to the story. Jenny says, “I’ve read somewhere that vaccines might be dangerous. I just don’t want to jeopardize their future.” “To jeopardize” (jeopardize) something or someone means to put something or someone in danger, in a dangerous situation. Jenny doesn’t want to put her children in danger by getting these vaccines. Jonas says, “That’s precisely what you’d be doing if you opted out of immunizations.” “To opt out of” something means to decide not to do something, to not participate in something that you would normally be expected or even required to do.

Jonas says if Jenny doesn’t get her children vaccinated, she would be putting them at risk. She would be jeopardizing their future, their health. Jenny says, “Why’s that?” Jonas says, “Because your children won’t be getting an education. The school is barring any children who don’t get immunized from attending school.” The school is barring children from attending school who don’t get immunized.

What does it mean “to bar” (bar) someone from something? It means to prevent someone from being able to do something or from being able to go somewhere. This is the verb “to bar.” It’s not related in meaning to the noun “bar,” which is a place you go and have an alcoholic drink – what I’ll be doing right after I finish this recording. Well, no. I’m just kidding. It’s only 11 o’clock in the morning, a little early for me for going to a bar.

Jenny says, “I call that irresponsible!” The school is not going to allow children who don’t get these vaccines to study in the school, to attend school. Jenny thinks that’s irresponsible. “Irresponsible” means “not responsible.” It means not doing the things that you should do. Jenny thinks it’s irresponsible of the school to bar children from attending because they haven’t been vaccinated.

But Jonas thinks the exact opposite. He says, “That’s exactly the word that came to my mind,” meaning that’s the same word that I thought of when I thought about what you’re doing, Jenny, by not getting your children immunized.

Now let’s listen to the dialogue, this time at a normal speed.

[start of dialogue]

Jonas: Hi, Jenny. Are you getting your kids ready for school, too?

Jenny: Yes, as you can see, we’re buying lots of school supplies.

Jonas: Did you get the school letter reminding parents to submit proof of immunization before the first day of school? I know that your youngest is starting school this year.

Jenny: Yes, she is, but I’m thinking of getting an exemption. I’m not sure vaccines are safe and I don’t want to take a chance with her health.

Jonas: The immunizations required by the school are standard – measles, mumps, chicken pox, polio – all vaccines your other children have had.

Jenny: But when I looked at the list, there were a few I didn’t recognize – diphtheria, hepatitis, and rubella. Who knows what our kids are getting!

Jonas: The ones you mentioned are standard, too. Don’t you remember the outbreak of whooping cough last year? If our kids had been immunized, they wouldn’t have gotten sick.

Jenny: I’ve read somewhere that vaccines might be dangerous. I just don’t want to jeopardize their future.

Jonas: That’s precisely what you’d be doing if you opted out of immunizations.

Jenny: Why’s that?

Jonas: Because your children won’t be getting an education. The school is barring any children who don’t get immunized from attending school.

Jenny: I call that irresponsible!

Jonas: That’s exactly the word that came to my mind.

[end of dialogue]

If you want to improve your English, it would be irresponsible of you not to use the very best sources available, including the wonderful scripts from our wonderful scriptwriter, Dr. Lucy Tse.

From Los Angeles, California, I’m Jeff McQuillan. Thank you for listening. Come back and listen to us again right here on ESL Podcast.

English as a Second Language Podcast was written and produced by Dr. Lucy Tse, hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan. Copyright 2015 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
immunization – giving one’s body the ability to protect itself from a particular disease, either because one has already had that disease or because one has received a vaccine

* Anyone who wants to work with newborn babies must have immunizations against major diseases.

exemption – exception; permission to not follow a rule or law due to certain circumstances

* Small businesses can get an exemption to paying the local taxes if they make less than $50,000 per year.

vaccine – a medicine that teaches a body to recognize and fight against a particular disease, introduced to the body to prevent the person from getting that disease

* The nurse told the new parents that young children should get vaccines at birth and then every few months after that to keep them healthy.

standard – normal; ordinary; not unusual or special

* They follow the standard operating procedure each time this occurs.

measles – rubeola; a viral disease that produces a red rash on the skin and a fever

* In the past, measles was very common, but now, it’s almost unheard of in the United States.

mumps – a viral disease that causes swelling (sudden growth) in the neck area

* Edgar remembers that it was difficult to swallow when he had the mumps as a child.

chicken pox – varicella; a viral disease that produces many red, itchy spots on the skin, primarily among young children

* Chicken pox is annoying and uncomfortable, but it usually isn’t deadly for children.

polio – a viral disease that can produce paralysis (the inability to move one’s arms, legs, or entire body)

* Before scientists developed a vaccine for polio, it was common for children to be left paralyzed by the disease.

diphtheria – a bacterial disease that makes it very difficult to breathe and also causes a sore throat and fever

* Many early settlers died of diphtheria while they were traveling across North America.

hepatitis – a disease that damages and inflames (makes red and hot) the liver (an organ in the body)

* Hepatitis is common among drug users who share needles.

rubella – German measles; a viral disease that produces a red rash on the skin and a fever, similar to the measles (see above)

* The boy has a red rash. How can we tell if it’s the measles or rubella?

outbreak – an increase of activity of a disease or war; a sudden increase in something so that it seems to affect almost everyone

* It seems like almost every year an outbreak of the flu leaves most of the desks empty at work, because people are staying at home while they recover.

whooping cough – a bacterial disease that produces very strong coughs with a loud high-pitched noise

* When Janice got whooping cough, none of us could sleep because her coughs were so loud.

to jeopardize – to put someone or something at risk; to put someone or something in a dangerous situation

* Drinking while at work in the factory jeopardizes the safety of your coworkers.

to opt out – to decide not to have, do, or participate in something

* How can I opt out of these airline promotion emails? I don’t want to receive them anymore.

to bar – to prevent someone from having or doing something

* The high school bars anyone over the age of 20 from attending the school dance who aren’t parents or teachers.

irresponsible – not demonstrating enough responsibility; not doing the things one should do; not accepting the consequences of one’s poor decisions

* Our neighbor is irresponsible with his vicious dogs, allow them to wander through the streets without leashes.

Comprehension Questions
1. What does Jenny mean when she says, “I’m thinking of getting an exemption”?
a) She wants to find a way around the rules.
b) She wants to schedule an appointment with the doctor.
c) She wants someone else to pay for her children’s immunizations.

2. What does Jenny mean when she says, “I just don’t want to jeopardize their future”?
a) She doesn’t want to put her children at risk.
b) She doesn’t want to choose her children’s future careers.
c) She doesn’t want to tell her children what will happen.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
standard

The word “standard,” in this podcast, means normal, ordinary, and not unusual or special: “The standard car model doesn’t include any fancy add-ons, such as a moon roof or leather seats.” The phrase “standard of living” refers to the lifestyle of a particular group of people, or how comfortable and wealthy they are: “If you move from New York to Nebraska, you’ll be able to maintain your current standard of living spending much less money.” A “double standard” refers to something that treats people unfairly, in two different ways: “Laughing when girls misbehave, but punishing boys when they do the same thing, is a double standard and it isn’t fair.” Finally, the phrase “gold standard” refers to something that is the best of its type and should be used for comparisons: “Their products are the gold standard in the industry.”

to bar

In this podcast, the verb “to bar” means to prevent someone from having or doing something: “If you’re carrying a weapon, you’ll be barred from entering the office building.” The verb “to bar” can also mean to block someone’s path: “The streets were barred during the parade.” The word “barring” means unless something happens: “Barring heavy rain, they’ll have an outdoor wedding.” Finally, the phrase “bar none” means that one is the best of a group: “He’s the best singer I’ve ever heard, bar none.” Finally, “monkey bars” are metal poles arranged for children to climb on and hang from in the schoolyard or park: “Eleanor spent the entire recess swinging on the monkey bars.”

Culture Note
Where to Vaccinate Children

Parents who want to “comply with” (follow) the standard “vaccination schedule” (a document showing at what age children should be immunized against different diseases) have “a plethora of” (many) choices. When a baby is born in a U.S. hospital, the first vaccinations might “take place” (occur; happen) in the first few hours of life, before the mother and baby return home.

“Subsequently” (after that), babies and young children typically receive vaccinations at the “pediatrician’s” (a doctor who specializes in treating children) office during the “well-baby and well-child visits” (a series of appointments used to track a child’s health, usually at 1, 2, 4, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 24, and 30 months, and then every year after that). Doctors “administer” (provide) routine vaccinations if the parent agrees that they can do so.

If families “miss” (do not have) vaccinations at well-baby and well-child visits, perhaps because they don’t have “health insurance” (a program that helps to pay for expensive medical appointments and healthcare), they might go to a “free clinic” (a community-based doctor’s office) that provides vaccinations at little or no cost. They might also go to a “pharmacy” (a store that sells medicine) that offers vaccinations, although this is more common for adults than for children.

Some U.S. government agencies offer free vaccinations to “low-income” (from families with little money) children. For example, the “Vaccines for Children” Program (VCP), offered through the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), buys vaccines “at a discount” (for a lower-than-usual price) and gives them to local and state agencies that can administer them to low-income children.

Comprehension Answers
1 - a

2 - a