National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM) Begins Monday August 3rd #NIAM15

written by ECBT social media intern, Linn H.

As a PhD student studying the effects of behavior within the realm of public health, I understand the importance of monitoring your own health with routine check- ups and making sure you are up to date with your vaccinations. However, we get busy, life gets in the way and we feel we do not have the time to invest in our own health.

That is why each summer the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  launches National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM) to highlight the importance of immunizations and the value of vaccinating across the lifespan.

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NIAM, begins Monday, August 3rd, and ECBT  encourages everyone to start a discussion with their family, friends and colleagues both in person and over social media (using the Hashtag #NIAM15) to inspire everyone to get their vaccines up to date.

ECBT will be supporting NIAM each week by highlighting vaccinations for the designated age groups according to the schedule below:

  • Week 1: Ensure a healthy future with vaccines (preteens & teens)
  • Week 2: Protect yourself and pass protection on to your baby (pregnant women)
  • Week 3: Vaccines are not just for kids (adults)
  • Week 4: A healthy start begins with on-time vaccinations (birth to age 6)

We challenge other organizations to join ECBT in supporting NIAM by downloading the NIAM toolkit and using this great resource to disseminate vaccine related information across social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram each week!

Remember that as we get older, our vaccines may wear off requiring vaccine boosters to kick start our immune systems. In order to protect both ourselves and our loved ones from deadly but preventable diseases it is important to remain knowledgeable about the vaccines needed at every stage of life. I will be challenging myself to become more aware about my own immunization records and making sure that I am up-to-date on my vaccines, but also that my parents and family members are protected from vaccine preventable diseases.

I challenge you to do the same. Use this great resource: Vaccine schedule across the lifespan and talk to your doctor to get a copy of your immunization record. Inquire whether you are up-to-date with immunizations.

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Let’s do this together! #NIAM15

White House Administration Video-Response to Opponents of Mandatory Vaccine Laws

Opponents of state-legislated school immunization requirements drafted a “We The People” petition in February, reaching the required number of signatures to trigger an official response from the Administration.  The petition was worded and advertised as follows:

“PROHIBIT ANY LAWS MANDATING THE FORCE AND REQUIREMENT OF VACCINATIONS OF ANY KIND – No human being should be FORCED to be vaccinated against their will and/or personal/religious beliefs. I petition against making vaccinations of any kind mandatory. This includes forcing children to be vaccinated to attend public schools, activities, and daycare centers. This also includes adults working in the public or private sector.”

This official White House We The People petition website pledges that “the right to petition your government is guaranteed by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. We the People provides a new way to petition the Obama Administration to take action on a range of important issues facing our country. We created We the People because we want to hear from you. If a petition gets enough support, White House staff will review it, ensure it’s sent to the appropriate policy experts, and issue an official response.”  A petition must reach 100,000 signatures within thirty days of posting in order to meet the response qualification.   Vaccine opponents advertised the petition as an effort to “call for federal protection from forced vaccination” and received 132,304 signatures. Read more…

The SHOTS Book: A Little Brother’s Superhero Tale

Ethan Cartoon PortraitMy name is Ethan, I am 14 years old, and the author of The Shots Book; A Little Brother’s Superhero Tale.  My big sister is the student filmmaker who wrote the documentary, Invisible Threat; a peer-to-peer film that explores the science of vaccines and outbreaks. While she was making the film I was due to get a shot for school and she wanted to document my experience.Yes, I was the Guinea Pig in the documentary.  Actually, once I learned about herd immunity, I wanted to get my shot and do my part to protect my community including my soon to be baby cousins who were about to born. That’s why I was so surprised that herd immunity wasn’t in my science textbook and this inspired me to write my own book for children getting shots.

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The Shots Book is an illustrated children’s book and everything I wish I had known when I was getting my kindergarten shots. My book explains why we get vaccines to protect our health and the health of others in our community who can’t be vaccinated. It’s my story about how I learned about herd immunity and how my puppy and I became community immunity superheroes. Just like Invisible Threat my book is a peer to peer educational resource, because sometimes it takes a kid to explain something to a kid.

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My book is dedicated to children who can’t be immunized and because many of them are stuck in the hospital for long periods of time and I want them to know they have a friend who cares. I’m donating a book to a children’s hospital for every book purchased. Now that I know real children who had transplants or fought cancer and medically can’t be vaccinated, I understand how critically import herd immunity is.

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I’m putting together some ideas on my website to help promote community immunity from a kid’s perspective that I think is missing. While getting a shot isn’t fun, it’s a whole lot better when we understand why our parents are taking us to the doctor to get vaccinated. The “to keep you healthy” line just doesn’t cut it. Kids should be celebrated when we get our immunizations and get a treat, because we are protecting our own health while protecting our communities and that is what superheroes do.

My goal is to raise awareness about community immunity and get herd immunity added to our science textbooks.Print

I hope that you will join the movement by using the hashtag #IamTheHerd, showing that you are vaccinated to help protect those who rely on herd immunity to keep them safe.  

To buy the book and allow me to donate a book to a children’s hospital,  go to http://theshotsbook.com/

Sincerely, Ethan Posard – Ethan@TheShotsBook.com
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HPV Epidemic – Someone You Love Film – Watch It, Share It!

July 16, 2015 1 comment
Every Child By Two is pleased to welcome Linn to our social media team. Linn is a student intern who will be sharing her perspectives on vaccines with us through the eyes of a PhD candidate.  We hope you enjoy her first piece of the summer.

The HPV vaccine is recommended for all girls and boys ages 11-12.

This vaccine has the potential to prevent 70% of all cervical cancers and 90% of genital warts.

Why then is there such a low rate of vaccine uptake?

Only about 1/3 of girls aged 13-17 have been fully vaccinated and less than 14% of boys are fully vaccinated.

One study looked to identify the barriers to uptake of HPV vaccine and found that it was not the lack of perceived risk or vaccine safety but the perception that it would increase risky sexual behavior in adolescents even though there is no evidence that this will occur.HPV

As a young student, I remember learning about the HPV vaccine in high school. HPV was a sexually transmitted disease that was relatively unknown, but we learned that the vaccine would prevent certain cancers and genital warts. The knowledge that I gained about the ability for this vaccine to prevent these potential diseases prompted me to learn more about the HPV vaccine and increased my desire to receive it.

However, when I discussed it with my mother, an interesting process began to occur. She did not know any information about the HPV vaccine and when I spoke to her about the fact that it prevents a sexually transmitted disease, I could see a shift in her gaze as she narrowed her eyes. I sensed that she was hesitant because of the social stigma that surrounded a female who would get a vaccine that was related to sexual contact.

All of these opinions are related to a negative stigma around sexual behaviors that are not true.  And yet these are the thoughts I sensed were running through my mother’s head as she also considered what her own peers would think, as I am sure many others do.

Back then I perceived that the assumptions that are made about females that get an STD vaccine were:

a) She is promiscuous.

b) She is about to become promiscuous.

c) She wants to be promiscuous.

At the time, I even remember having a discussion with a teacher about the HPV vaccine and her speaking about how she refused to give her child the HPV vaccine because “they should not be giving 11-12 girls a vaccine to prevent a sexually transmitted disease”.   Now I understand that the 11-12 year old visit is the optimal visit, as it eliminates the connection of the vaccine with future sexual contact by integrating it within the routine vaccine schedule, which includes meningitis vaccines and a Tdap booster. In addition, I’ve learned that by waiting to provide the vaccine at a later date, many children fall through the cracks because they do not receive routine health care in their teen years. Read more…

Take Action: Ask Governor Brown to Sign Bill To Protect School Children from Vaccine Preventable Diseases

californialegislatureToday California lawmakers passed SB 277, a bill that will eliminate exemptions (other than for medical reasons) from mandated vaccinations for school children.  California will be the largest state to join ranks with West Virginia and Mississippi, who have declined non-medical exemptions from school vaccine mandates for many years.

The New York Times posted a map depicting the seriousness of the issue in California, where in some areas up to 20 percent of kindergartners are opted out of vaccines.  Details on the efforts of Californian’s in support of this bill are detailed in a recent SOP blog post.

Every Child By Two encourages readers to fax Governor Jerry Brown to urge his signature on the bill.  If you are not from California, please let the Governor know that you support his efforts and hope that your home state will follow California’s lead. Past bills of this nature have been watered down by the Governor, therefore it is important that he understand that the public is behind California in their efforts to protect school children.

The following letter was sent by ECBT last week in anticipation of the vote.

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June 26, 2015

Governor Jerry Brown
c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814

Fax: (916) 558-3160

Dear Governor Brown,

I write to you today on behalf of our organization which was founded nearly twenty-five years ago by Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter and Former First Lady of Arkansas Betty Bumpers to ensure the timely immunization of all children.  In the 1980’s these two ladies were instrumental in helping to pass the laws that exist in every state requiring school children to be fully vaccinated.  In 1991, after an outbreak of measles that took the lives of too many children, they founded Every Child By Two.

As you can imagine, we were very distressed to witness the most recent measles outbreak that began in California and rapidly spread to 131 people here in the U.S. and more in neighboring countries as exposed park goers returned to their homes, carrying the virus with them.  Read more…

ACIP Passes “Permissive” Recommendation for MenB Vaccine for Young Adults

June 24, 2015 2 comments

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted to recommend MenB vaccine earlier today in order to protect young adults from the deadly “b” strain of meningitis.  The full recommendation wording is as follows,

“A serogroup B meningococcal (MenB) vaccine series may be administered to adolescents and young adults 16 through 23 years of age to provide short term protection against most strains of serogroup B meningococcal disease. The preferred age for MenB vaccination is 16 through 18 years of age.”

Photo Credit: James Gathany, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Photo Credit: James Gathany, Centers for Disease postControl and Prevention

Several hours of deliberation by the Committee followed by heartbreaking testimony from the National Meningitis Association, Meningitis Angels and several families devastated by the serogroup B strain of meningitis preceded the vote.

Members of the Committee felt that the data available currently regarding the short length of duration of protection with the vaccine, combined with the high cost burden of vaccinating the entire public for a disease that has a relatively low incidence rate, were some of the rationales for including the wording “may be vaccinated” in the recommendation.  This wording designates the recommendation as a “Category B or permissive recommendation”

Many who testified feared that a Category B recommendaton could cause confusion among providers and the public and would result in a lack of access if insurers failed to cover the costs of the vaccine.  The Committee was assured by the CDC that a Category B recommendation will result in the vaccine being covered by the Vaccines For Children Program and the Affordable Care Act.

Meningitis survivor Andy Marso pleaded with the Committee to consider fully recommending the vaccine in order to avoid confusion among providers and inequitable access for the public.   Andy contracted meningitis as a college student and racked up $2 million dollars in hospital bills within just the first year.  “That would buy a lot of vaccines,” he stated.

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“I need your help” he continued, “I want to make sure others don’t get meningitis because every time I hear of another person who contracts meningitis it strikes me in the chest.”  “I wonder what if I had done more? What if I had talked to more people? Maybe my warnings could have reached that person.  Maybe that person would have gotten vaccinated, or not shared that bacteria-ridden cup, or gotten to the hospital on time…I have a terrible responsibility now…and you can help free me by fully recommending the vaccine.”

As noted in a recent Shot of Prevention post, “the ACIP also recommends that adolescents receive the quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV4) at ages 11-12, with a booster dose at age 16, to protect against the A, C, W and Y strains of meningococcal bacteria. Statistics show that nearly 80% of teens have received at least one dose of this vaccine, which is fairly remarkable considering the fact that the vaccine is recommended, but is not mandated for school or college in most states. However, it’s important that parents realize that the MCV4 vaccine does not prevent serogroup B meningococcal disease, which currently accounts for 1/3 of all U.S. cases of meningococcal disease and has been spreading through college campuses in recent years.”

One thing is certain, moving forward there will be a herculean task of educating the public and providers about the new recommendation.  Stay tuned for a more thorough post on the meeting in the coming days.

Legislators Must Hear From Public in Support of Strong Vaccine Policies

June 18, 2015 2 comments

2015 promises to be a big year for vaccine policy.  

got_public_healthBack in January and February the United States saw a rise in measles cases as a result of an outbreak that originated at the Disneyland amusement park in California.  As a result, parents, providers and public health professionals began raising concerns about the dangerous risks of disease, the misinformation that has been persuading people not to vaccinate, and the rising number of exemptions parents have been filing to allow their children to skip school mandated vaccines.  Soon state legislators were being encouraged to take the steps necessary to protect daycare and school aged children from vaccine preventable diseases with new, stronger immunization policies.

The request was pretty straightforward.

States need immunization policies that will help preserve and protect our public health, and every child deserves the right to attend school in an environment that is free from preventable diseases.   

The results have been both encouraging and exhausting.

Many states, such as Vermont, have since passed new legislation that will help boost school vaccination rates by either restricting philosophical exemptions, or requiring parents to discuss the risks of not vaccinating with a health care provider prior to getting an approved exemption.  Just last night, the New York State Assembly passed a bill 105-28 that will require seventh and twelfth graders to receive a meningococcal vaccine and now the bill will head to the governor’s desk.  And there are dozens of other states that are considering new policies.

When it comes to immunization policy, it takes an enormous coordination of effort to educate legislators on the issues and get a bill to become law.   

One state that has received a great deal of attention lately is California and Senate Bill 277.    If approved, SB277 would remove the personal belief exemption option from California’s school immunization statute.  The bill has already passed the Senate with a 25-10 vote in May, and cleared another impressive hurdle last week by winning a 12-6 vote in the Assembly Health Committee.  Despite the encouraging outcomes so far, supporters of the bill will tell you that the outcome is still uncertain.

The next challenge is a vote by the full Assembly, and then hopefully the bill will arrive on the Governor’s desk.   Read more…

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