As a mother and a nurse, I was vigilant in having both of my children up-to-date on all recommended vaccinations, including meningococcal vaccination. I was under the common misconception, as many parents are, that the meningococcal vaccine that my daughter received would fully protect her from meningococcal disease, when in fact, it didn’t protect her against meningitis B. The meningococcal vaccine (MCV4) only protects against four of the five common groups (ACWY), leaving adolescents and young adults vulnerable to meningitis B. Meningitis B is a type of bacterial meningitis, also known as meningococcal disease, which is a potentially fatal bacterial infection that can kill a healthy person within 24 hours.
When my daughter Kimberly Coffey died in 2012 from bacterial meningitis, a vaccine was not available to protect her. But since 2014, meningitis B vaccination has been available in the United States. Kimberly was a perfectly healthy 17-year-old high school senior, and I believe she would be alive today if meningitis B vaccination had been available to her.
I established The Kimberly Coffey Foundation in Kimberly’s honor to educate other parents and health care providers about meningitis B, also known as MenB.
It’s critical that parents know that MenB vaccination is now available, and that without requesting MenB vaccination in addition to the common meningococcal vaccine (MCV4), their child will not be fully protected against meningococcal disease and MenB.
The Kimberly Coffey Foundation has partnered with Pfizer on the National Meningococcal Disease Awareness Survey to gain a better understanding of parents’ knowledge of meningococcal disease and its available vaccines. This 2016 survey revealed that nearly 4 out of 5 parents didn’t know their child wasn’t fully immunized against the five common groups of meningococcal disease unless they had two meningococcal vaccines (MCV4 and MenB).
The bottom line is this – without adding MenB vaccination, we are going to lose more lives. There will continue to be more college outbreaks, especially since MenB has been responsible for several recent college outbreaks in the United States. According to data released by the CDC, MenB currently accounts for approximately 50% of meningococcal disease in the United States among persons aged 17-22 years old. MenB vaccination is available for individuals ages 10-25, and public health insurance and most private insurance plans provide coverage. However, your child’s provider may not mention it.
I want parents to have the knowledge to request MenB vaccination, in addition to the meningococcal vaccine, so that their children can potentially be fully protected against this devastating disease.
As a mother who lives every day with the heartache of not seeing my beautiful daughter live the full life she deserved, I know only too well how important MenB vaccination is. My daughter Kimberly’s life was one too many lost to this terrible disease.
I will be Kimberly’s voice as I continue to promote awareness of meningococcal disease, which includes MenB. I don’t ever want another parent to experience what I have. And more important, I don’t want another person to experience what Kimberly did when she battled for her life.
Kimberly contracted MenB two years too early—two years before the MenB vaccine was made available. She didn’t have the protection of the MenB vaccination, but your children can. Please protect your children – because YOU can.
For more information about meningitis B and the MenB vaccine, please visit the Kimberly Coffey Foundation at www.kimberlycoffeyfoundation.org.
Every Child By Two (host of the Shot of Prevention blog) welcomes guest blog posts on a variety of vaccine related issues. The views and opinions expressed in these guest posts do not necessarily represent the views of the Every Child By Two organization.
Every Child By Two’s State of the ImmUnion campaign is honoring National Immunization Awareness Month (#NIAM16) with a Blog Relay highlighting the importance of vaccines across the lifespan and across the nation.
In this fourth guest post, we learn how Maine has made great strides in stepping up the state’s vaccination rates for infants, babies and young children to at or above national levels. But when it comes to adolescents, Maine – like many other states – still has some catching up to do.
At Vax Maine Kids, they’re working hard to make sure parents know how to protect their childrenfrom several serious illnesses that can strike during the teen years.
This guest post by Franklin Health Pediatrics pediatrician, Dr. Gabe Civiello, highlights the importance of vaccines for preteens and teens and explains what Maine is doing to improve adolescent immunization rates.
By Gabriel Civiello, MD in collaboration with Vax Maine Kids
Healthcare providers all across Maine are celebrating the recent rebound in vaccination rates for our youngest children. In fact, our childhood immunization rates rank among the highest in the country. According to the 2014 National Immunization Survey, over 85% of Maine toddlers are up-to-date on their recommended vaccinations, and kindergarten non-medical exemption requests fell to 3.9% during the 2014-2015 school year.
The trends aren’t quite as positive for Maine’s preteens and teens, however. Nationwide, as children grow into their preteen and teen years, under immunization becomes much more common—and Maine is no exception. In fact, Maine’s vaccination rates for the meningococcal vaccine and the tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap) vaccine are below the national average and the lowest in New England. Following the national trend, human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine rates in Maine are at least half of the rates of the other adolescent vaccines.
Why are immunization rates lower for Maine teens?
- Preteens and teens have lower attendance at well child visits. If they aren’t seeing their healthcare provider on a regular basis, they and their parents aren’t being reminded of the CDC-recommended vaccination schedule (and the importance of sticking to it). When teens see a provider solely for sick visits or emergencies, vaccinations may not come up in the discussion as often as they should.
- Critical vaccines for teens are not required for school attendance in Maine. Teens are allowed to attend school without getting the meningococcal vaccine and the HPV vaccine, and Maine is one of only three states that doesn’t require the Tdap vaccine. By leaving these vaccines out of school requirements, parents may get the impression that their children don’t need them.
- The HPV vaccine remains as poorly understood and under-utilized (by families and providers), in Maine as it is elsewhere in the country. We aren’t communicating the importance of safely vaccinating adolescents against the common cancers caused by the HPV virus before they become sexually active as well as we could.
There is good news for Maine teens in the NIS data, however. Our HPV vaccination rates are higher than the national average. This tells us that Maine parents and providers want to protect our children all the way into adulthood, and that HPV vaccine rates will likely improve with better communication about the vaccine.
Which diseases threaten Maine teens, and which vaccines can protect them?
There are four vaccines that are routinely recommended for all preteens between 11 and 12 years of age. Teens also need a booster dose of meningococcal vaccine at age 16, and teens may also need additional vaccines based on risk factors, travel, or if they missed previous doses. The vaccines routinely recommended for preteen and teen girls and boys are:
- Quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine, which protects against four types of meningococcal disease. Meningococcal disease is caused by bacteria and is a leading cause of bacterial meningitis – a serious infection around the brain and spinal cord – in teens and young adults. Two doses are needed for full protection.
- HPV vaccine, which protects against several types of HPV. HPV can cause cancers of the cervix, vulva and vagina in females and cancers of the penis in males. In both females and males, HPV infection can also lead to head/neck cancers, anal cancer and genital warts. Three doses are needed for full protection.
- Tdap vaccine, which is a booster shot against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. Pertussis (whooping cough) can keep kids out of school and activities for weeks. Infants, for whom pertussis can be deadly, are often infected by an older sibling or adult. A Tdap vaccine is recommended between the ages of 11-12 (with boosters for tetanus and diphtheria (Td) needed every 10 years throughout adulthood).
- Flu vaccine, because even healthy kids can get influenza, and it can be serious. All preteens and teens, should get the flu vaccine every year.
What is Maine doing to raise awareness of and access to the immunizations Maine teens need?
Every Child By Two’s State of the ImmUnion campaign is honoring National Immunization Awareness Month (#NIAM16) with a Blog Relay highlighting the importance of vaccines across the lifespan.
In this third guest post, we hear about the importance of protecting babies and young children from vaccine-preventable diseases from the perspective of a statewide non-profit. The mission of the Colorado Children’s Immunization Coalition is to mobilize diverse partners and families in an effort to advance children’s health through immunizations.
To celebrate the gift of vaccines and to remind parents, grandparents, caregivers, and others of the important role vaccines play in their little one’s early years, we’re highlighting the top 10 things parents should know about childhood immunizations.
1. Vaccines save lives.
Simply put, vaccines work! The World Health Organization estimates that vaccines save 2.5 million children’s lives every year. In fact, immunization is considered one of the greatest public health achievements of the 20th century.
Vaccines have reduced and, in some cases, eliminated many diseases that killed or severely disabled people just a few generations ago. For example, smallpox vaccination eradicated that disease worldwide, and we’re getting closer than ever to a polio-free world.
Here in Colorado, vaccination prevented more than 8,600 child hospitalizations in just one year!
2. Vaccines are safe.
Vaccines are thoroughly tested before licensing and carefully monitored after they are licensed to ensure that they are safe. See The Journey of Your Child’s Vaccine infographic to learn more about the vaccine testing and approval process.
Like any medication or medical intervention, vaccines can cause adverse reactions. The most common vaccine side effects are mild (e.g. a sore arm or mild fever). In many cases, the risk of a serious allergic reaction to a vaccine is 1 in one million. Vaccines will involve some discomfort and may cause pain, redness, or tenderness at the site of injection, but this is minimal compared to the pain, trauma, and possible long-term complications of the diseases these vaccines prevent. The disease-protection benefits of getting vaccines are much greater than the risk of possible side effects. Not vaccinating places children at risk for dangerous and potentially fatal vaccine-preventable illnesses.
3. Young children are especially vulnerable to vaccine-preventable diseases and their complications.
Children under the age of five are most at risk for vaccine-preventable diseases and their complications. In 2014, 63.8 percent of children hospitalized with vaccine-preventable disease in Colorado were four years of age or younger. Unfortunately, in the same year over 25.7 percent of two-year-olds in Colorado had not received all recommended vaccines.
Child care facilities, preschool programs and schools are prone to outbreaks of infectious diseases. Children in these settings can easily spread illnesses to one another due to poor hand washing, not covering their coughs, and other factors such as interacting in crowded environments. Make sure you are sending your child to child care and school safe!
4. Vaccine-preventable diseases still exist.
Diseases like polio, measles, and mumps are not diseases of the past; vaccine-preventable diseases are still common in many parts of the world. However, most young parents in the U.S. have never seen the devastating effects that diseases like measles or rubella can have on a family or community, and the benefits of vaccination are often taken for granted. But the truth is they still exist.
For example, measles continues to be brought into the United States by unvaccinated travelers who are infected while in other countries. When measles gets into communities of unvaccinated people in the U.S. (such as people who refuse vaccines for religious, philosophical or personal reasons), outbreaks are more likely to occur. While we have the ability to prevent these diseases from harming our most vulnerable, such as babies, the elderly and the immunocompromised, gaps in immunization coverage have allowed these diseases to sneak back into our daily lives. Last year’s measles outbreak was a perfect example of how quickly infectious diseases can spread when they reach groups of people who aren’t vaccinated.
Diseases know no boarders, and with an increasingly transient global society it is more important than ever to ensure our little ones are protected.
5. Vaccines also save money.
Every Child By Two’s “State of the ImmUnion” campaign is honoring National Immunization Awareness Month (#NIAM16) with a Blog Relay highlighting the importance of vaccines across the lifespan. In this second guest post we hear from a California colleague who has a particular interest in Maternal-Child Health.
Dr. Elizabeth (Betsy) Rosenblum, who is a Professor of Clinical Medicine at UC – San Diego Health System, with joint appointments in the Departments of Family Medicine & Public Health and in Reproductive Medicine, works hard to help protect pregnant women and their babies from pertussis.
The shattering loss of a child is something no family ever wants to experience. Unfortunately, this year in California, two families have suffered this loss in a particularly devastating manner. These two children, both under six months of age, died from a vaccine-preventable illness: whooping cough.
Whooping cough? Isn’t that a disease from the past, like bubonic plague or smallpox?
The unfortunate answer is no. Whooping cough, or pertussis, is a disease that is still very much with us. It can infect both children and adults. It is most dangerous, however, for young infants. When whooping cough infects babies under two months of age, 90% will be hospitalized, 2-4% will suffer seizures, and 1 in 100 will die from complications of the disease.
How do infants get whooping cough?
The sad fact is, they get it from those around them. The disease is spread by infectious droplets in the air and is highly contagious. Adults with pertussis infection, who may only have a mild cough, may not realize they have the disease. And, tragically, adults have been shown to be a frequent source of infection to infants with whom they have close contact.
Is there any way to prevent pertussis in infants?
Fortunately, we have a vaccine, called Tdap. We know that when pregnant women are vaccinated during mid-pregnancy, their body has time to pass protective antibodies to their babies. These antibodies can help protect infants from the disease, until they are old enough to mount an immune response to their own pertussis vaccine.
I am a family physician, and care for many pregnant women and young families. I know from experience that some pregnant women are hesitant to get a vaccine, wondering if this might harm their growing baby. I try my best to explain that the opposite is true: that getting Tdap vaccine during pregnancy is far safer for their baby than NOT getting the vaccine. If born without protective antibodies, babies risk getting sick and dying from a potentially preventable disease.
Some of my patients tell me “I’ll get the Tdap vaccine, but I want to wait until after the baby is born.” Certainly, getting the vaccine is better than never getting it. However, this plan offers far less protection. In order for a baby to have protective antibodies circulating in his/her system from the moment of birth, the vaccine must be given at least 3-4 weeks prior to delivery. Currently in the United States, the recommended time of Tdap vaccination for pregnant women is between 27-36 weeks (6-8 months of pregnancy).
I care for some pregnant women whose children are closely spaced in age. When these women reach 27 weeks in a given pregnancy, I recommend Tdap. On occasion, they will tell me “I don’t need it, because I had it last year in my prior pregnancy.” However, in order to protect a newborn from whooping cough, a pregnant woman needs Tdap in each and every pregnancy. It is only when a woman receives the vaccine in a current pregnancy that she sends an abundant and protective amount of antibodies into the baby growing inside of her.
In order to protect infants from whooping cough, do other family members need to be vaccinated?
The answer to this question is a resounding YES! All family members, caregivers, and others who will be around an infant should be certain they are up-to-date with Tdap vaccine. When everyone around a baby is vaccinated, this provides a ‘cocoon’ of protection, greatly minimizing the chances a baby will get sick from the disease.
Children need five DTaP vaccines(the pediatric form of Tdap) at 2, 4, 6, 15 months and between ages 4-6. They need a Tdap booster at age 11. Adult men only need a single lifetime Tdap. Adult women only need a single lifetime Tdap, unless they are pregnant, in which case they need a Tdap in every pregnancy.
If a murderer was on the loose in California, intent on harming babies, there would be an immense outcry and demand for protection. Well, that murderer is pertussis. And, the best way to protect every infant from this disease is to spread the word of the importance of both maternal Tdap vaccination and vaccination for all members of our communities.
To determine what vaccines are needed before, during and after pregnancy, take a brief Pregnancy and Vaccination Quiz or visit the Pregnancy section of the Vaccinate Your Family website.
Dr. Rosenblum has completed a fellowship in Vaccine Science and Safety through the American Academy of Family Physicians. She chaired the Tdap Working Group in 2010, which coordinated UCSD’s response to the California pertussis epidemic. Her innovative work in designing and implementing a Tdap Cocooning Clinic led to her receiving the APhA Immunization Champion Award in 2011. She was chosen by the CDC to be the Childhood Immunization Champion for the State of California in 2014, in part due to her work in educating pregnant women and their families regarding the importance of childhood immunizations. She currently serves on two Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) work groups; the Tdap Work Group and the Combined Vaccine Work Group. She is also on the Steering Committee of the San Diego Immunization Coalition.
Preparing a kid for college is akin to preparing for their arrival at birth. There are so many details to think about, choices to consider and preparations to be made that it’s easy to become completely overwhelmed. As parents, we want nothing more than to ensure that our children are well prepared – both physically and emotionally – for all the challenges they are about to face.
While it’s natural to focus on the dorm items your child might need, parents should also help prepare their teen for the responsibilities they will have in managing their own health. Once they move into that dorm, you will no longer be there to fill their prescriptions, fetch their medicine, make their doctor’s appointments, or otherwise ensure they are getting the medical attention they need. It will be up to them to maintain a healthy diet, get adequate rest, and protect themselves from the dangers of alcohol, drugs and unwanted or unsafe sex. They will need to know when to seek professional medical attention if they should get sick, injured or find themselves struggling with mental or physical needs.
Before your child heads off to college, here are five things you can do to help them stay healthy:
1.) Get your child a physical exam.
When kids are young, parents are accustomed to bringing them in for well-visits. However, it’s not uncommon for kids to miss yearly check-ups in lieu of sports physicals and sick visits. Before your child heads to campus, make sure to schedule a comprehensive health exam. The conversation your child has with the doctor should help prepare them to manage their current health conditions while away at school (such as any known allergies, specialist appointments and regular medications) while also opening the discussion to the dangers of stress, poor diet, inadequate sleep, binge drinking, drug experimentation and unsafe sex. If their provider fails to cover these issues completely, it’s important that parents weigh in on these concerns as well. You can let your child know that while you trust them to make responsible decisions, you are always available for advice and support.
2.) Get all the recommended vaccines, not just those required by the school.
For many students, college can be a time of significant stress. Students don’t always eat a healthy diet or get the proper rest. They live in close quarters and have a tendency to share cups and eating utensils. At some point your child may travel, or engage with fellow students and faculty members who have traveled, to areas where diseases are more prevalent. And studies show that college students are more likely to engage in risky behavior. All these conditions make students more susceptible to illness. It is also what contributes to the chances of outbreaks occurring on college campuses.
Making sure your child is up-to-date on all the recommended vaccines, not just those required by the school, can help them avoid dangerous and sometimes even deadly illnesses. While there are several immunizations that are recommended for college-age students, each state and college may have different admission requirements.
To best protect your college-bound student from preventable diseases, parents should consider the following vaccines for students before they arrive on campus: Read more…
National Immunization Awareness Month is a reminder that we all need vaccines throughout our lives. This week we are focusing on the importance of vaccines during pregnancy. These vaccines help protect expectant mothers while also passing immunity to babies that can help protect them from disease before they are old enough to receive their own vaccines.
From the moment you found out you were pregnant, you started protecting your developing baby. You might have changed the way you eat, started taking a prenatal vitamin, or researching the kind of car seat you’ll buy. But did you know that one of the best ways to start protecting your developing baby against serious diseases is by making sure you get the whooping cough (Tdap) and flu vaccines while you are pregnant?
The vaccines you get during your pregnancy will provide your developing baby with some disease protection (immunity) that will last the first months of life after birth. By getting vaccinated during pregnancy, you can pass antibodies to your baby that may help protect against diseases. This early protection is critical for diseases like the flu and whooping cough because babies in the first several months of life are at the greatest risk of severe illness from these diseases. However, they are too young to be vaccinated themselves. Passing maternal antibodies on to them is the only way to help directly protect them.
In cases when doctors are able to determine who spread whooping cough to an infant, the mother was often the source. Once you have protection from the Tdap shot, you are less likely to give whooping cough to your newborn while caring for him or her.
When it comes to flu, even if you are generally healthy, changes in immune, heart, and lung functions during pregnancy make you more likely to have a severe case of the flu if you catch it. If you catch the flu when you are pregnant, you also have a higher chance of experiencing pregnancy complications, such as premature labor and delivery. Getting a flu shot will help protect you and your baby while you are pregnant.
You also can rest assured that these vaccines are very safe for you and your developing baby. Millions of pregnant women have safely received flu shots for many years, and the CDC continues to monitor safety data on flu vaccine in pregnant women.
The whooping cough vaccine also is very safe for you and your developing baby. Doctors and midwives who specialize in caring for pregnant women agree that the whooping cough vaccine is important to get during the third trimester of each pregnancy. Getting the vaccine during your pregnancy will not put you at increased risk for pregnancy complications.
You should get your whooping cough vaccine between your 27th and 36th week of pregnancy. You can get a flu shot during any trimester. You can get whooping cough and flu vaccines at the same time during your pregnancy or at different visits. If you are pregnant during the flu season, you should get a flu vaccine soon after vaccine is available.
If you want to learn more about pregnancy and vaccines, talk to you ob-gyn or midwife, and visit the pregnancy pages at Vaccinate Your Family and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Every Child By Two is pleased to launch another article in their series featuring guest writer Joel A. Harrison, PhD, MPH, a retired epidemiologist who has worked in the areas of preventive medicine, infectious diseases, medical outcomes research,
and evidence-based clinical practice guidelines. Dr. Harrison volunteers his time to provide in-depth and expert analysis of articles which ultimately make false claims about the safety of vaccines.
Today we will feature Dr. Harrison’s latest paper Andrew Wakefield Has Never Been Exonerated: Justice Mitting’s Decision in the John Walker-Smith Case
The executive summary is posted here on Shot of Prevention with links to the full article on the Every Child By Two website.
Andrew Wakefield is a prominent figure among those who fear that vaccines cause more harm than good. When the UK’s General Medical Council (GMC) revoked his medical license, as well as the license of Professor John Walker-Smith, a co-author on Wakefield’s 1998 paper, his supporters saw the decision as a political move to silence his criticism of vaccine safety and his claims that vaccines, the MMR in particular, played a causal role in the rise of autism and other childhood disabilities. Both Wakefield and Walker-Smith appealed the GMC decision; but Wakefield discontinued his appeal.
On March 7, 2012, Mr. Justice Mitting of the UK’s High Court of Justice published the Court’s decision in the Professor John Walker-Smith case, overturning the GMC decision. It did not take long for anti-vaccination websites to post articles referring to the Court’s decision, emphasizing that Walker-Smith and, by implication, Wakefield, had been exonerated.
This paper will show that Justice Mitting’s decision in no way exonerated Wakefield,
that even with regard to John Walker-Smith, the decision was based on a procedural error, not factual innocence. In addition, despite what antivaccinationists have written, Justice Mitting’s decision also made clear that he considered the research showing no relationship between the MMR vaccine and autism to be established science.
In conclusion, it is clear that Andrew Wakefield has not, and given the overwhelming evidence, will NEVER BE EXONERATED…..Read this absolutely fascinating article in full by clicking here.