It’s National Influenza Vaccination Week and it’s likely that some people haven’t received their flu shots yet. You should know that flu season has officially arrived and some states have already begun reporting flu-related deaths. So if a flu vaccine is still on your to-do list, don’t wait any longer. The HealthMap Vaccine Finder is here to help.
The HealthMap Vaccine Finder is a free, online tool that connects the public to vaccine providers in their neighborhood. In recent years, the number of alternative locations to receive a vaccine has significantly increased and you’re not just limited to receiving vaccines from your primary care provider.
But how do you know what your other options are? And how do you know what vaccines you may need?
Simply check with the HealthMap Vaccine Finder.
The first tool you might use on the website can be found here or by clicking on the “What Vaccines Do I Need?”. If you know you need a flu vaccine simply fill out the “Flu Vaccines” quiz to receive a personalized list of the different type of influenza vaccines that are approved for use in people like you, based on your age, history, and risk factors. You can learn more about any of the specific vaccines by clicking on them. Once you’ve identified which vaccine is appropriate for you and your family, you can search for providers that offer that vaccine in your community. Of course, you should always talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before receiving a vaccine to ensure that you’ve made the right choice for you. Read more…
A few weeks ago I wrote about the fact that Katie Couric’s new daytime television show Katie was planning to air a segment about HPV vaccine. After hearing the proposed line-up for the show it was clear that the HPV vaccine was not going to be portrayed favorably. And as expected, the conversation has blown up all over the internet in the past 24 hours with many reporters and bloggers calling out Katie Couric and her producers for how poorly they’ve handled this important conversation.
Unfortunately, daytime television ratings are driven by emotion and controversy and Katie Couric’s producers know that. So despite the overwhelming research available on the safety and efficacy of the HPV vaccine, that information was not adequately presented to the millions of viewers of her show.
But there was one other thing notably missing.
It was the voices of those who have suffered with HPV related cancers. And those family members who speak out on behalf of those lost to HPV related cancers.
Since the Katie Couric neglected to include a single cervical cancer survivor, I’m encouraging anyone who has had a personal experience with an HPV related cancer to speak out and let others know just how terrifying it has been for you. You may share your story in the comments below or send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And I would like to encourage everyone to share your opinions of the episode with one of the show’s producers (Beth.Cochran@katiecouric.com).
Below are just a few of the HPV related stories that are featured on the Shot By Shot website. They are all very compelling and emotional and I hope that someday they will get the kind of attention that the Katie show has given to those critical of the vaccine.
In this video, Heather Burcham shares her story of cervical cancer just two months before she died. Her hope was to change just one person’s life by encouraging others to get the HPV vaccine.
This is an excellent video filmed at the national Cervical Cancer Coalition conference in Atlanta, GA, in January 2013 which highlights stories from cervical cancer survivors and family members of women who have died from the disease. These personal stories highlight the devastating impact of cervical cancer and emphasizes the importance of prevention in the form of vaccines and regular screening–prevention that can save lives.
This guest post was provided by Text4baby, a service of the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition.
With 99% of all text messages being read and 90% read within the first 3 minutes, texting is a powerful tool to share information. Text4baby, the nation’s largest and only free mobile health service, provides free health and safety information to expecting and new moms in the convenience of a text message.
Women can sign up to receive three messages a week by
texting BABY (or BEBE for Spanish) to 511411.
The interactive messages are personalized to the mother’s due date or baby’s birth date. Topics include labor signs and symptoms, baby’s development, nutrition, safe sleep, breastfeeding, immunizations, appointment reminders, urgent public health alerts and other resources. Evaluation results show Text4baby is facilitating interaction with health providers, reminding participants of their appointments and immunizations, connecting participants with health services, and that Text4baby participants are three times more likely to feel prepared for motherhood than non-participants.
During flu season, Text4baby messages remind women to get vaccinated for their health and for the safety of their baby. Influenza is very dangerous to pregnant women and infants, and can cause premature labor, preterm birth, hospitalization and even death. The influenza vaccine is safe for expecting women and new moms and reduces the risk of this preventable disease. In fact, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend all persons in the U.S. older than 6 months be vaccinated. Infants younger than 6 months depend on the immunization of those around them for protection against the spread of the virus.
Text4baby’s goal is to reduce the number of barriers preventing women from getting a vaccination through tailored educational messages and appointment reminders. The messages are customized to each participant’s response on their intent to get the flu shot.
Sign up before December 9th to receive a free flu shot redemption code
courtesy of Text4baby and your local Rite Aid.
Furthering the goal of encouraging pregnant women and new moms to get vaccinated, Text4baby just announced Rite Aid as the first national retail partner of the service, and in celebration of the partnership, Rite Aid is providing 10,000 free flu shots to Text4baby mothers this flu season. OnDecember 12, Text4baby will send a message to any woman who signed up for the service prior to December 9. The message will contain a unique code for redeeming a free flu shot at any Rite Aid location.
Give the gift of knowledge and encourage all expecting and new moms you know to sign up for Text4baby. The service is easy to use, and most importantly, FREE.
Text BABY (or BEBE for Spanish) to 511411 to sign up today.
Text4baby is a free service of the nonprofit National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition, provided in partnership with Voxiva. Support from Founding Sponsor Johnson & Johnson allows Text4baby to implement the service and provide free materials and resources for over 1,100 partners nationwide. The service is free for participants thanks to The Wireless Foundation and participating mobile carriers.
To learn more, please visit www.text4baby.org.
Every Child By Two Executive Director, Amy Pisani writes the following letter in consideration of #GivingTuesday.
As Every Child By Two (ECBT) continues our partnership with the #GivingTuesday initiative, we wish to thank you for your generous support over the years. Whether you’ve provided a monetary donation, staunchly defended the benefits of vaccines on our social media platforms, or have taken action in support of immunization policies, you’ve helped us in our mission to ensure that the 12,000 babies born every day receive timely, life-saving vaccinations.
Thanks to your involvement, ECBT’s Vaccinate Your Baby initiative has exceeded our wildest expectations. Messaging from our Vaccinate Your Baby Facebook page reaches more than 500,000 viewers each week and our Shot of Prevention blog posts and tweets continue to be read by hundreds of thousands of people, including many influential bloggers and reporters. As a result of our Vaccinate Your Baby initiative, ECBT has become one of the largest online sources for pro-vaccination information and messaging.
As we expand our efforts to save the lives of young children, we’re developing a new campaign, Vaccinate Your Family, and we need your help. The Vaccinate Your Family campaign will focus on the need to protect infants from the dangers of influenza and whooping cough, both of which continue to take the lives of too many precious children. The campaign will educate the public on the strategy of “cocooning” infants until they can be fully immunized by vaccinating pregnant women, family members and close contacts.
Unfortunately, as the economy continues to recover we’ve seen traditional funding sources diminish and so we rely on your support more now then ever before. By making a tax deductible donation, you can help us make a lasting impact on the health of children everywhere. Please visit our donation page and consider a contribution that demonstrates the value of vaccines. Whether you can give $15, $50, $500 or more, your gift is critical to ECBT’s mission to save lives through timely vaccination.
We are truly grateful for your partnership and for all you do to ensure the health of children.
With Warmest Regards, Amy Pisani, Executive Director, Every Child By Two
This guest post was written by Jane Huston, a program coordinator for HealthMap at Boston Children’s Hospital and manager of the HealthMap Vaccine Finder, a project that aims to increase adult immunization by making it easy to find recommended vaccines. Jane received a Master’s of Public Health from Boston University.
An elementary school alerts parents to a student with whooping cough by posting an announcement to its school website. A healthcare worker in China posts a picture to a micro-blogging website confirming a new case of influenza H7N9 that was previously uncounted. The WHO releases an online statement regarding suspected cases of polio in Syria for the first time in 14 years.
All of the above are examples of both the formal and informal online early warning signals collected by HealthMap in an attempt to understand and track infectious disease outbreaks around the world.
HealthMap and Digital Disease Detection
The HealthMap system uses an automated process to search the web for mentions of infectious disease, every hour on the hour. When we find a disease mentioned, whether it’s in a news story, blog post, or official report, the system can “parse,” or interpret the text to determine 1.) the disease in question, 2.) the country or state where the outbreak is occurring, and 3.) the species affected. HealthMap tracks human and animal diseases, as well as some plant disease. The system can also use this parsed information to decide how important the story is, and if it should be displayed on the public map. For instance, a whooping cough outbreak in Ohio? Pin it to the map! New research about a possible risk factor for a rare kidney disease? Interesting, but not exactly outbreak-related, so not on the map.
All of this is done automatically using digital tools, with human curators periodically correcting mistakes (Bieber fever? Not so relevant) or adding additional information such as case counts and location tags like “school” or “healthcare facility”. This automation allows HealthMap to monitor a staggering number of diseases, locations, and animals. We currently track over 4800 disease patterns in 220 species in countries all over the world. The result of this process is displayed on healthmap.org as a unified view of infectious disease outbreaks around the world.
Why do we need digital disease detection? Read more…
Earlier this week, news reports started pouring in of a meningococcal outbreak among students at Princeton University. The number of cases and the lack of any direct connection among the cases helped define the outbreak, and suggested that there would likely be more cases. And while it is not uncommon to hear of meningitis cases among college students, this specific outbreak was concerning to parents and public health officials for one very specific reason.
In the seven cases of meningococcal disease related to this Princeton University outbreak which began in March 2013, all seven were identified to be caused by meningococcal bacteria know as serogroup B. While we are fortunate to have a meningococcal vaccine that is currently recommended for adolescents in the U.S., it only protects against four different serogroups (“strains”) of the disease known as A, C, Y and W. Therefore even vaccinated children will lack protection against the B strain noted in this particular outbreak. That is an unfortunate reality to acknowledge when we consider that serogroup B is responsible for approximately one third of all the bacterial meningococcal cases in the U.S.
So why doesn’t the U.S. meningococcal vaccine offer protection from the B strain and what is being done about it?
The first priority in this recent outbreak has been for Princeton University, the NJ State Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to work together to propose a solution that could help prevent this outbreak from spreading. They have since requested that the FDA allow the use of a vaccine that has not been licensed in the U.S., but has met safety and efficacy standards for licensure in Europe and Australia. Considering the vaccine has been approved by regulatory agencies in other countries, the FDA has agreed to offer the vaccine for use to address this specific situation only. In moving ahead, the University expects to make the vaccine available to students free of charge. Since two doses of the vaccine are required for maximum protection, they will begin administering the first dose in December, with the second dose to follow in February. The vaccine will be offered to all Princeton undergraduate students, all graduate students living in dormitories, and individuals with the specific high risk conditions.
While this action may help to control this specific outbreak, we must also consider another pressing question.