Pediatrician to present program on 'Truth About Vaccines'

Published on Thursday, 21 September 2017 15:11
Written by Erica Schmitt

Staff Writer

NEW BRITAIN - With flu season nearly upon us, the Newington Kiwanis Club is offering some insight into vaccinations at an upcoming public forum.

Newington resident and retired New Britain general pediatrician Dr. Ellen Leonard will present “The Truth About Vaccines” on Monday, Sept. 25, at 7 p.m. at Paradise Pizza, 10 East Street in New Britain.

Kiwanis’ members typically invite the public to hear a different speaker each month. Club President Dan Henry decided this was the perfect time to host Dr. Leonard.

“Immunization is an issue that has stirred a lot of debate, despite the fact that the science is solidly behind immunizing our children,” Henry said. “Kiwanis International is an organization that is dedicated to serving the needs of children. Educating the public about vaccines is just another way to support our mission to serve children and others.”

Kiwanis International’s 2017 slogan just happens to be “Kids Need Kiwanis.” In fact, the Eliminate Project, the organization’s ongoing initiative with UNICEF, is working to eliminate maternal/neonatal tetanus.

With rising suspicion of modern medicine and a constant flood of misinformation on the internet, some parents are choosing to keep their children from suggested vaccinations. Dr. Leonard attributed some of the propaganda to Dr. Andrew Wakefield, whose credentials were denounced after he published a 1998 study linking the measles vaccine to autism.

“He faked his data and lost his license because of it, but the information is still out there for people to read,” she explained.

Leonard ran the Pediatric Clinic at the Hospital of Central Connecticut for 27 years until retiring in 2014.  In her career she’s cared for thousands of children with a broad scope of ailments. Preventative care was at the core of her work, and vaccines, a large part of this.

“Before we had all these vaccines millions of people died of influenza. Even when I was a child, every summer you didn’t go swimming because you could get polio in a pool,” she pointed out. “Vaccines by-and-large are safe and there’s a lot of misinformation out there. The chance of having a serious reaction to a vaccine is really low. It’s as if you had the entire series of Harry Potter books representing vaccines and one word in one of those books representing the one person who has a reaction. They are one of the safest things we do in medicine.”

During her upcoming presentation Leonard plans to discuss the history of vaccinations, what vaccines are currently available to children and adults and her experiences in medicine.

The Kiwanis’ Open-to-the-Public Forum Nights began in 1986. Up until July 27 of this year they were coordinated by member Al Cohen. Upon his passing the club is working to continue the tradition in his honor.

“Besides missing Al Cohen personally, we certainly miss him for all the work he did for putting together these speaker meetings, plus all the publicity he did for them as well as the flea market,” Henry said.

He is working on a series of other speaker topics for coming months.

Those who wish to dine should come early before the program. The restaurant’s regular cash menu will be available. 

Erica Schmitt can be reached at 860-801-5097, or

If you go:

WHAT: Newington Kiwanis present Dr. Ellen Leonard and The Truth about Vaccines

WHEN: Monday, Sept. 25 at 7 p.m.

WHERE: Paradise Pizza, 10 East St., New Britain

HOW: Admission is free

Posted in Newington Town Crier, Newington News on Thursday, 21 September 2017 15:11. Updated: Thursday, 21 September 2017 15:14.