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NOVA Film “Vaccines-Calling the Shots” Opens the Door for Dialogue

September 11, 2014 170 comments

After viewing the PBS NOVA film “Vaccines – Calling the Shots”, I began wondering what the film’s impact would be.  I’ll admit that the film was very ambitious.  It addressed the science behind vaccines, why they work, how they work & even touched upon how people assess risk and decide whether to vaccinate or not.  All this in less than an hour.

Of course, no one should expect this film to be the one defining piece that will convince people to vaccinate.  Certainly it may reinforce the decision of those who already choose to vaccinate.  And it may give pause to those who would otherwise refrain from vaccinating.  But most importantly, this film is a valuable tool to help educate people about the science behind vaccines, inform the public about the importance of herd immunity and the dangers of not vaccinating, and open the door for civil dialogue about common vaccine safety concerns.

Looking back on the tweets I sent during the premiere, I realized that the film touched upon some of the most important immunization related issues I hear from parents day after day.   My goal now is to encourage as many people as possible to see this film (available online) and to use it as a way to encourage further conversation.

Of course, the film began with the usual caveats:

In the US more than 90% of parents vaccinate & most follow the recommended schedule.

Vaccine history may repeat itself. @PaulOffit explains “If you start to decrease vaccination rates you start to see the diseases reemerge.”

NOVAMeasles

 

In order to appreciate the value of vaccines, the film began by addressing the recent resurgence of diseases like pertussis (whooping cough) and measles.  It explained the infectious nature of these diseases, illustrated how epidemics are tracked and spread, and allowed viewers to see a tearful mother watching her infant child laying in a hospital bed and battling violent coughing fits brought on by an incurable disease known as pertussis. Read more…

Countdown to “Vaccines – Calling the Shots” on PBS

September 2, 2014 7 comments

PBSCallingTheShotsAnother great vaccine documentary is set to air this month.  That’s right!  Mark your calendars and set your DVRs!

Vaccines – Calling the Shots will premiere on PBS NOVA on Wednesday, September 10th. Due to anticipated coverage of President Obama’s address to the nation at 9pm (EST) and 8pm (CT), the film will air immediately following coverage of the President at approximately 9:20pm (EST) and 8:20 pm (CT).

 

Vaccines – Calling the Shots” is a special production which examines the science behind vaccinations and takes viewers around the world to track epidemics.   The film explains why diseases, which were largely eradicated a generation ago, are returning to the United States.  It also explores the risks and consequences of opting out of vaccines, and identifies parents who are wrestling with vaccine-related questions.

This brief preview provides a glimpse of what this new documentary is all about:

Help Generate Awareness About this New Documentary

Vaccine hesitancy and refusal is often rooted in the proliferation of immunization misinformation.  However, educational films like Vaccines- Calling the Shots” can help separate facts from fears.  Therefore, we ask for your support and participation in getting the word out about this film.  Not only will you be helping to combat misinformation, but you will help others to understand and appreciate the science behind immunizations.

Alert your friends, family and colleagues about the date and time of the upcoming premiere via social media.

Share this blog post, the 3-minute preview seen above, or the direct link to the PBS NOVA page to encourage others to discuss the value of vaccines and the science of immunization.  Ask them to mark their calendars for the preview and to participate in the conversations surrounding the premiere.   

Follow live tweets during the broadcast on September 10th and retweet them to your followers.

Featured experts from the film will be live tweeting.  These include:

  • Infectious disease expert, Dr. Paul Offit (@DrPaulOffit), leading pediatrician and chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases and Director of the Vaccine Education Center at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
  • Alison Singer (@AlisonSinger), Co-Founder and President of the Autism Science Foundation( @AutismSciFounda), member of the national Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC), chair of the International Society for Autism Research public relations committee, and mother of a child with autism
  • Writer, director, producer & co-executive producer, Sonya Pemberton (@pembertonfilms) who, as the Creative Director of Genepool Productions of Melbourne and Sydney, Australia spent  four years researching and producing an Australian version and now the American version of this film
  • NOVA series executive producer, Paula Apsell (@mamaNOVA)

In addition to these experts, everyone who has an interest in preventable diseases is invited to add to the commentary by live tweeting during the premier and including the hashtag #vaccinesNOVA.  We would even like to encourage people to promote the preview ahead of time via Twitter with these sample Tweets:

Examine immunization, track outbreaks & learn more about vaccinations w/ #vaccinesNOVA, Wed., Sept 10 at 9:20 EST on @PBShttp://to.pbs.org/YWNjcY

Why are diseases that were largely eradicated a generation ago returning? Find out w/ #vaccinesNOVA, Sept 10 at 9:20 EST http://to.pbs.org/1ryEAuw

If you would like an email reminder of the airing of this preview, be sure to sign up on the Vaccinate Your Baby “Get Involved” page here.

Follow @ShotofPrev on Twitter:  https://twitter.com/ShotofPrev
Follow Vaccinate Your Baby on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/VaccinateYourBaby
Follow NOVA on Twitter: https://twitter.com/novapbs
Like NOVA on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/NOVAonline

Sharing Immunization Information in Everyday Conversations

August 28, 2014 1 comment

This post was originally shared on the MOMunizations blog in honor of National Immunization Awareness Month. Throughout the month of August immunization advocates have been highlighting the value of vaccines across the lifespan.  This post was intended to encourage everyone to do the same.

As a parent who keeps up with the latest immunization news, I feel obligated to share information about vaccines and infectious diseases.  My efforts are not just limited to my contributions on the Shot of Prevention blog, but rather expand to include everyday encounters I have with friends and family.

Of course, no one wants to be that person who only talks about one thing, even if it’s something as important as vaccines.  But as a parent to five children, I have plenty of opportunities to discuss immunizations in ways that are entirely appropriate to my conversations with other parents.

And in honor of National Immunization Awareness Month, I challenge you to do the same.

Don’t be hesitant to talk about vaccines.  In fact, consider it a necessity.  You’re not reluctant to tell others about the doctor you love or the delicious restaurant you found.  Why not be as generous with the information you have about vaccines?

Even if people aren’t well versed on the subject of vaccines, they still want to know how to protect themselves and their loves ones from dangerous illnesses.  We must remember that the overwhelming majority of people vaccinate.  They do not need to be convinced that vaccines are safe and effective.  However, they do sometimes need to be reminded.

By suggesting vaccine recommendations in your casual conversations, you can help give people the information they need to make informed decisions.  Why not tell them about the measles and pertussis outbreaks in their communities or explain the risk of rising exemption rates in your local schools?  There are so many ways to introduce the topic in your everyday conversations.  Consider these personal experiences of mine: Read more…

Should I Take My Three-Week Old to the Family Reunion?

August 8, 2014 292 comments

DrZibnersToday Dr. Lara Zibners addresses a concern that was raised on our Vaccinate Your Baby Facebook page which addresses the difficult task parents face in protecting their newborn babies from vaccine preventable diseases before they are old enough to be vaccinated themselves.  If you have a vaccine related concern that you would like to provide for discussion, please email shotofprevention@gmail.com or send us a message on our Facebook page.

I have a 3 week old son and I plan on vaccinating him appropriately. However my family is having a reunion next week and I want to go. I have been very strict about only having vaccinated visitors. Is it ok to go to this reunion when I can’t check to see if every person is vaccinated? There will be 20-40 people there. Also, my brother-in-law doesn’t vaccinate his kids and I haven’t let them or their kids meet my baby yet. Am I being crazy or should I stick to this? I just want to do what’s best for my baby.

 

Wow! You plan on getting out of the house with a 3-week old? That’s ambitious. I’m impressed. I’m also incredibly impressed with your concern about exposing your new little one to vaccine preventable illnesses. Not to mention how delicate and difficult the topic is when friends and family willingly don’t vaccinate and risk the health of their children and yours. It’s awkward, as I’ve already said.

But moving on from that, I think we need to have a real conversation about what vaccines can and can’t do. I am blatantly pro-immunization. I, along with the overwhelming majority of physicians and scientists, believe that vaccines truly are the greatest medical innovation of all time. They have saved more lives than any other medical advancement in history. Vaccines work, they are safe, and they save lives.

But let’s be honest. Vaccines don’t provide 100% immunity to every single individual vaccinated. That is why herd immunity is so very, very important.  Read more…

Protecting Your Baby From Disease Begins in Pregnancy

August 6, 2014 1 comment

Some may call me a bad mother because I can’t remember if my back labor was with the first or second child, or if my varicose veins sprung up with my third or fourth pregnancy, or exactly what time it was when my fifth child graced this earth.  But one thing I will never forget is how much time and effort I put into researching labor and delivery with my first pregnancy.

NIAM14_FBpost_BabyLooking back, I felt confident that I was doing everything to ensure the best possible health of my child.  I ate good foods, avoided caffeine, took my vitamins, and even wrote a birth plan that expressed my desire to have a natural and un-medicated labor.  Despite all the precautionary steps I took, I knew that something unexpected may occur.  There could be some kind of birth complications.  The baby could be in a breech position, have the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck, or be born with a birth defect.  I knew the risks because I did my research, but I also did everything within my power to help ensure the health of our child.

The same goes for those first few weeks and months after our baby was born.  Despite the precautions we took to keep each of our babies healthy, by limiting time outside of the home, washing hands, breastfeeding as long as possible and keeping sick siblings and family members away, there were never any guarantees.  The fact remains that it can be extremely difficult to isolate our babies from infectious diseases that may be circulating in our communities, which is why my husband and I chose to immunization our children according to the recommended schedule.

What some parents don’t realize is that the childhood immunization schedule is designed to protect children from diseases at the times when they are most vulnerable.  For instance, by administering the Hepatitis B vaccine at birth, we can actually reverse the effects of the virus if it was unknowingly passed from a pregnant mother to her child.

But there are two dangerous diseases that we can begin protecting babies against while they are still in the womb. 

Influenza and pertussis.

In this first week of National Immunization Awareness Month – a week designated to babies and pregnant woman – it’s important to highlight that pregnant woman are advised to receive a Tdap booster vaccine with each pregnancy, as well as an annual influenza vaccine.

Read more…

Asking Before They Play: How to Handle the Response

July 23, 2014 37 comments
In the first part of this series, Ask Before They Play to Keep Chickenpox, Pertussis and Measles Away, Dr. Zibners explores why a parent might be concerned if their vaccinated child has unvaccinated playmates.  In the second part, Are Your Child’s Friends Vaccinated, she provides tips on how to pose the question to others.  In this final post she offers suggestions on how to respond when the answer isn’t exactly what you were hoping for.

 

DrZibnersPart Three: Handling the Response

By Dr. Lara Zibners

In parts one and two of this series, I’ve been equating a conversation about firearms in the home to one about immunization. Both can be awkward but both are very, very necessary. But suppose the answer isn’t the one you were hoping for.

You take a deep breath and spit it out: “Do you keep a loaded gun in the house?” If the answer is yes, there’s another conversation to be had: “Where are they kept? Are they secure? Where is the ammunition? I meant a revolver, not your staple gun!”

In the same way, you may want to open the conversational door about vaccines. What if the answer is

“Oh, no, we don’t vaccinate”

Do you panic? Jump to conclusions? Grab your child and run screaming?

No. Obviously not. My kids are numerous (3) and heavy (nearly 90 pounds combined). I can’t run anywhere. But besides that, it’s best not to start the conversation by assuming that every unvaccinated child has parents who are unwilling to vaccinate. If you find out that your child’s best friend hasn’t had his MMR vaccine, don’t turn away just yet. Take a deep breath and ask one simple question: Read more…

Asking Before They Play: Are Your Child’s Friends Vaccinated?

In the first part of this series, Ask Before They Play to Keep Chickenpox, Pertussis and Measles Away, Dr. Zibners explores why a parent might be concerned if their vaccinated child has unvaccinated playmates.  Today, she offers suggestions on how to pose the question to other parents. DrZibners

Part Two: Posing the Question

By Dr. Lara Zibners

As kids get older, they naturally start wanting to go play at other people’s homes. As parents, we should encourage this developing independence, shouldn’t we? Not to mention the few hours of freedom we can selfishly steal from the arrangement. Yet it’s a little scary, watching them walk into another house. Another environment. Another set of rules. How do you know it’s as safe as the one you’ve created in your own home?

The answer is that you can’t always be certain. The other parents might be more relaxed about some things, more uptight about others. I, for one, am fully aware that my “two ice cream bars each and that’s it, people!” is a bit liberal for many of our friends. Then again, the way I freak out, hysterically screeching when I see a latex balloons being brought into our home…perhaps others view that reaction as inappropriate. But from my standpoint, I’ve never cared for– let alone heard of– a child who was killed by an ice cream sandwich. The latex balloon? Right. Number one non-food related fatal choking hazard. The point is we all have our priorities when it comes to the safety of our kids.

Photo credit: M. Danys

Photo credit: M. Danys

As a parent, when you decide that it is a priority to limit your child’s contact with unvaccinated children, that’s absolutely within your right. Please know that you aren’t alone if you are nervous or worried about upsetting or offending another family by asking about vaccine status. But it’s important and simply has to be done.

But what do you actually do? How do you ask? Blurt it out? Casually drop a line into the conversation? Tell a hilarious story about the last time little Bobby went for his routine immunizations and watch the reaction? It can be awkward. Especially if you haven’t given it some thought.

But it’s something you really need to think about. It’s fine to decide in your mind that you don’t want unvaccinated children putting your own at risk. However, it’s another thing to put those feelings into words. As an example, the Ask campaign has done a great job of raising awareness about the dangers of unsecured guns in homes with children and encourages parents to inquire about the presence of firearms in the homes where their children play.  Why can’t vaccine status be a similar conversation we have with other parents? Read more…

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