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.
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.
Why is the vaccine available in other countries, but not in the U.S.? And when can we expect a meningococcal vaccine in the U.S. that will offer protection from the B strain for our children? Read more…
When I began writing on this blog three and a half years ago, I had never had a face-to-face conversation with someone who I would’ve described as “anti-vaccine”. That’s not surprising really, since about 99% of people vaccinate. The odds of me knowing someone who didn’t vaccinate was fairly low, and the odds of me speaking to them about their opinions would likely be even lower. While I had never walked around wearing a sign that said “I vaccinate”, I had never hid the fact that I vaccinate either. Each of my five children wore their band-aid badges of honor after their scheduled well-visits and it was not uncommon for me to tell others that “my kids had shots today”.
But today – knowing what I know now - I think about the hundreds of people who I’ve associated with over the years. It’s entirely likely I’ve known people who were selective vaccinators, delayed vaccinators, or parents who followed an alternative schedule. But anti-vaccine? Could it be? Other than one acquaintance I’ve had, I can’t think of anyone I’ve ever known, in real life, that has refused vaccinations entirely. And even though this one acquaintance believed her child’s developmental delays were in some way a result of her child’s immunizations, she never once tried to persuade me not to vaccinate or even suggest that she believed vaccines to be dangerous.
Unfortunately, since I began writing about immunization issues, I’ve been shocked and appalled at the people who ridicule, threaten and personally harass me day after day – all because they reject the scientific views that I base my vaccination decisions on. And while there are still less than 1% of people nationwide who refuse vaccines entirely, I’ve seen how a very small minority of that 1% can be extremely persistent, vocal and downright rude. These are the people I would label as ”anti-vaccine”.
Which brings me to the interesting popularity of a recent article entitled “I’m Coming Out…As Pro Vaccine“. The author’s views have been articulated by many before. But for some reason, this particular post has gone viral. I’ve seen lots of acquaintances discussing it on social media and it’s encouraging to see how the popularity of this piece may be helping the 99% of parents who vaccinate to make their views known publicly.
At the beginning of the article the author, JJ Keith, admits, Read more…
When a child is born parents experience a combination of joy, relief, hope and even a healthy dose of worry. Every parent wants to keep their precious children safe, and thanks to the availability of vaccines, parents can now prevent as many as 14 different diseases by the time their children are two years old. However, it’s important to realize that until a child is fully immunized, they remain at risk of contracting these dangerous diseases and therefore must rely on protection from their families and community members.
Kate and Ellie are twin girls who were born healthy and happy on January 5, 2012. As recommended, they received their DTaP vaccine at two months of age. This vaccine was the first of five doses they would need in order for their bodies to build immunity to diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (also known as whooping cough). Before completing the full vaccination series, children like Kate and Ellie remain susceptible to dangerous diseases like pertussis. And unfortunately, when the girls were just 14 weeks old, their family realized just how important disease prevention is and just how life-threatening pertussis infection can be.
Ellie’s battle with pertussis began in April 2012 with what was described as a cough. When the pediatrician realized that her lung capacity was down to 82% of normal, she was quickly admitted to the local hospital and put on oxygen. Then, as her mother explains “things spiraled downhill pretty fast”. They suspected Ellie may have pertussis and while they she was awaiting an ambulance transport to Boston Children’s Hospital, doctors had to swarm the room and intubate her.
Ellie’s mother describes the ordeal in excruciating detail on the Shot By Shot website:
“…the doctors told us Ellie’s lungs were failing fast, her heart rate was dangerously high, and the fluids that she was getting through her IV weren’t getting to her organs. Whatever was attacking Ellie made every cell in her body “leaky.” They moved Ellie to the ICU.”
By Sunday evening the medical team told us that Ellie was in complete respiratory failure and our last chance of survival was to try a heart lung bypass machine called ECMO. Ellie’s lungs were bypassed, but as the hours passed, Ellie’s blood flow turned to sludge. Her kidney and liver function had virtually stopped. Read more…