When the Timehop app was introduced to Facebook not everyone was thrilled. While most people loved being reminded of photos and updates shared on Facebook in years past, others complained that there were some events they would prefer not to be reminded of; the loss of a job, the details of a difficult divorce, or the pain of losing someone we love.
Almost three years ago, shortly after Jonathan and Kathryn lost their infant son Brady to pertussis, they reached out to Every Child By Two and expressed an interest in advocating for pertussis vaccinations. They hoped that by sharing their son’s story they could help educate people on the dangers of pertussis and the importance of vaccination, especially in preventing exposure among children, like Brady, who are too young to be vaccinated themselves.
Being tasked to help them write their story was a challenge. How could I ever hope to do it justice?
Then it occurred to me… Kathryn had been recording Brady’s story all along as she continuously updated her friends and family of his condition on Facebook. I read her posts and could immediately empathize with the emotional roller coaster they were on. The hope. The fear. The unimaginable sorrow of watching their beautiful baby suffer, and ultimately lose his life as a result of a preventable disease.
Brady’s story was originally shared here on Shot of Prevention. We then worked to also get it posted to a site called Shot By Shot, which serves as a virtual library of personal stories of vaccine preventable diseases. From there, Brady’s story went viral.
Today we honor all our Every Child By Two parent advocates who continue to help us raise pertussis vaccine awareness. This day not only marks Brady’s third angel-versary, but also the fifth angel-versary of Carter Dube, and later this week the fifth angel-versary of Callie Van Tornhout.
While Timehop may be reminding you of a fun winter outing, a delicious dinner shared among friends, or an exciting new promotion, Brady’s mom Kathryn has been using Timehop with Facebook to remind us of how precious life is. Brady may not be here with us physically, but his battle was not entirely lost. Brady continues to fight today, as his family and friends share his story, in hopes that no more children are lost to pertussis.
💕 my bubba it was the calm before the storm
Ugh I hate this disease!! No family should have to endure this pain vaccination is so important
Our life turned upside down. I remember the ambulance ride and the rushing of the doctors when we reached Boston. We felt like we were dropped in the middle of a tornado everything happening so fast. We entered Boston with our son and left without him. I will also stand by what I advocate. Vaccines are important and save lives. Too many like Brady die because someone chooses not to vaccinate, and he was too young to receive his vaccines.
— feeling heartbroken.
This was my last update of Brady’s health. It was the worst pain to endure. Kissing your baby on the forehead and saying goodbye for the last time is something a parent should never have to do. These communicable diseases are nothing to take lightly. They take babies from there parents, siblings and families. The best line of protection we as parents can give to your own baby as well as other babies like Brady, is vaccination. Another parent should not be planning their child’s funeral because of these diseases. Or anything for that matter. Please light a candle for our bubba and tell his story to at least one other person today 💕
— feeling emotional.
We thank Kathryn for allowing us to share her personal posts, and we continue to thank all the strong and courageous parents who continue to share their personal sorrows in a public way in hopes of a better tomorrow.
As we prepare for the challenges of 2015, we want to thank everyone who has contributed to our success in 2014. Once again, the past year has been one of tremendous growth. We’ve seen a record number of views and shares on a variety of Shot of Prevention blog posts, and we’re especially grateful to our blog contributors and many new subscribers.
In looking back over our efforts from this past year, we would like to share a list of some of our most popular blog posts from 2014. We hope that you will revisit these posts and share them with others so that we can continue to engage more people in these important immunization discussions.
This blog post was written by Joe Lastinger, Board Member of Families Fighting Flu, who lost his young daughter Emily to flu. He explains that guilt and regret are often the hidden forces behind a lot of the good that is done in the world. And he explains the guilt and regret that he feels in his failure to adequately protect his daughter from influenza. To here more about Emily’s story, click here.
Infants don’t get begin getting immunized against pertussis until they are two months old. Prior to that, they remain vulnerable to this highly contagious disease at a time when they’re most fragile. In this post, Kathy shares the story of her son Brady’s battle with pertussis in the same way that she did with her closest friends and family; through her Facebook status updates. This small glimpse into one family’s heartbreak reminds us of how fragile a young life can be, and highlights how important adult pertussis boosters are in preventing pertussis in infants. Read the story for yourself here.
After five years and four miscarriages, Katie and Craig Van Tornhout celebrated the birth of their miracle baby, Callie. But their joy quickly turned to grief when Callie contracted pertussis and lost her life at just 38 days old. This story, which you can read here, talks about Callie’s struggle, but also highlights the important work the Van Tornhout’s have done to try to save the lives of other children by advocating for adult Tdap boosters in their community and across the country.
The U.S. is experiencing a record number of measles cases, with 610 cases in 24 states so far this year. This is the highest number of cases since measles elimination was documented in the U.S. in 2000. This may also explain why our fourth most popular blog post of the year was one that explained why measles outbreaks are concerning even to the vaccinated. To find out why everyone should be concerned about measles outbreaks, read the blog post here.
Dr. Dorit Reiss, is a Professor of Law, at the University of California Hastings College of Law. She has contributed several guest posts throughout the year, utilizing her legal expertise to examine the social policies of immunization. This particular post, which ranked as our fifth most popular blog post of the year, highlights the cost of vaccine misinformation. In this post, Dr. Reiss explores who may be liable when harm occurs as a result of a parent’s decision not to vaccinate – a decision often based on misinformation from a third-party. Read the details of Dr. Reiss’ explanations here.
If you have suggestions for topics you would like us to address in 2015, or you would like to contribute a guest post for publication, please feel free to let us know by commenting below or emailing us at email@example.com.
If you want to ensure you don’t miss any of our new posts in 2015, simply subscribe to Shot of Prevention by clicking the link at the top right of this page. You can also “Like” our Vaccinate Your Baby Facebook page to receive updates on important immunization news and join in on group discussions.
Thanks again for your continued support and best wishes for a happy and healthy new year!
This guest post was written by Denise Olson, a mother of four who connected with The Arizona Partnership for Immunization (TAPI) in her efforts to learn more about the HPV vaccination.
Like all good moms, I want my kids to grow up safe and healthy. I want to make decisions that will benefit them right now, but I also need to think about things that could help them in the future. I feel like it’s a big job and a lot is depending on me. That is why I wanted to learn more about the HPV vaccine before my children were old enough to get it. I wanted to make an informed choice, and I had all kinds of questions.
What is HPV, anyway? Could a vaccine actually protect my children from cancer? Are there side effects? What about the scary rumors I heard on the internet? Why is the vaccine given at age 11? Are my kids really at risk for HPV, or is this unnecessary medicine?
I wrote this article to share the answers I found to my questions, and to hopefully convince other parents to think about how they can protect their own children, not only now, but in the future.
What is HPV anyway?
HPV stands for human papilloma virus. HPV lives on soft mucous membranes and skin. Usually, it can be found on the genitals of an infected person, but it can also infect the anus, mouth and throat.
Some strains of HPV viruses cause genital warts, while others can cause tumors or cancers to grow. While there are many different types of HPV, there are several different HPV vaccines licensed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The bivalent HPV vaccine (Cervarix) prevents the two HPV types, 16 and 18, which cause 70% of cervical cancers. There is also a quadrivalent HPV vaccine (Gardasil) which prevents against four HPV types: HPV 16 and 18, as well as HPV 6 and 11, which cause 90% of genital warts. The quadrivalent vaccine has also been shown to protect against cancers of the anus, vagina and vulva and is the only HPV vaccine licensed for use in males. And just last week, the FDA approved a new HPV vaccine (Gardasil 9) which will protect against nine different strains has the potential to prevent approximately 90 percent of cervical, vulvar, vaginal and anal cancers.
Can the HPV vaccine actually protect my child from cancer?
The primary cancer the HPV vaccine is designed to protect against is cervical cancer, the same cancer that is checked for when women go in for a pap smear. However, because the vaccine stops dangerous HPV viruses anywhere in the body, it may help protect against some cancers of the penis, throat, mouth, and anus. This is one reason it is recommended for boys as well as for girls. (The other reason is to protect future partners from cervical cancer.) Read more…
By Joe Lastinger, Board Member, Families Fighting Flu
My daughter, Emily, should have started high school this year full of excitement and potential. Her teachers would ask her, “Are you Chris’s little sister?” or “Are you Andrew’s little sister?” In my head I imagine her earning high marks in advanced classes, joining student council, playing volleyball and basketball and having a great group of close friends. Now I realize that it might not have turned out that way. It’s quite possible that Emily would have entered high school at the peak of her teenage rebellion and might not even be on speaking terms with her mom and me. We will never know, because she died suddenly and tragically from influenza when she was only 3½-years-old.
Emily died from influenza in 2004. She died in our bed, in her pajamas, watching cartoons – just hours before we were scheduled to take her back to her pediatrician to have her looked at again. Doctors have terms to describe how children like Emily can be so sick and not necessarily appear so…it’s called “compensation”. Children, we learned, can sometimes compensate for illness…until they can’t anymore.
If I had to describe how my wife and I thought about influenza – “the flu” – before Emily died from it, I would compare it to lice. I know that seems like a silly comparison, but chances are most parents at one time or another have had the unpleasant experience of dealing with lice. It’s a nuisance, cleaning hair, searching for nits, laundering, etc. You hope that the rest of the family doesn’t get it. You are kind of mad that it happened at all. It messes up your family’s busy schedule. You worry that other parents aren’t being diligent and will end up re-infecting your kids (well, at least we did). Maybe you wonder who started this whole mess to begin with.
But, we couldn’t have been more wrong. Influenza kills tens of thousands of people in the U.S. every year. You don’t have to be old, sick or immune compromised. Influenza kills healthy adults and children (like Emily) every year. We’ve spent the last decade working to reduce the number of kids that die every year from the flu. Much of this work has been through Families Fighting Flu, a non-profit advocacy organization we played a small role in getting started, and some of it has been on our own through state and regional efforts in Texas.
The year 2015 will mark a decade that my wife and I have been working to reduce (eliminate, really) the number of childhood deaths attributed to influenza. Ten years without Emily in our lives. Ten years working to make sure that what happened to us doesn’t happen to other parents. There have been successes (universal vaccine recommendations) and failures along the way (people still aren’t taking advantage of vaccinations that are widely available). Recently, I’ve been reflecting on what I have learned over that time and thought I would share a few insights. Read more…
Yesterday was the day I had been anxiously anticipating for well over a month. I took my kids to the local senior center to get our flu shots at the county flu vaccination clinic.
While most Americans are worrying themselves sick over Ebola, I’m more concerned about the greater risk of influenza. See, I’m no stranger to the fact that thousands of people die from influenza each year. In fact, I’ve already read about several flu deaths being reported this season, to include a person from South Carolina and a child from North Carolina in just the past week though these deaths won’t get the media attention Ebola does. And while the flu may not be widespread in my local area at this particular moment, it’s just a matter of time. The flu arrives every year like a tornado on the midwestern plains. Sometimes you get a little bit of a warning, but regardless of whether you see it coming, it inevitably hits towns, schools and workplaces, hurting and even in some cases killing those who are not protected from its wrath.
Unfortunately, because I’ve had a child diagnosed with H1N1, met parents who have lost their children, know friends who have lost their neighbors, and have personally known a previously healthy individual who succumbed to influenza in his early 30s, I have a healthy fear of the flu (no pun intended). Yet, it never ceases to amaze me that reasonable and otherwise intelligent people continue to reject flu vaccinations because they are swayed by unfounded myths or the sting of a needle.
Yesterday I realized that while my children understand the importance of flu vaccination, many adults around them still do not.
Here are a few of the surprising things I heard in just one hour of the day: Read more…
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.”
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…
Another 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: