USA Today Highlights Vaccines in Two Recent Columns
Jan 06, 2010

By Amy Pisani
USA Today’s Liz Szabo covered vaccines in two recent articles that you don’t want to miss.  The December 23rd article covered the broad issue of celebrities who cross the line with their medical advice.  This article, which spans the Life Section’s front page, dissects the actions of a variety of celebrities who have influenced the public with their messages.  “Many doctors are troubled by stars who cross the line from sharing their stories to championing questionable or even dangerous medical advice” states Bradford Hesse of the National Cancer Institute.  The article contains information about Every Child By Two (ECBT) and its Vaccinate Your Baby campaign spokesperson Amanda Peet, who encourages parents to attain their medical advice from doctors rather than celebrities.  It also includes quotes from Dr. Paul Offit of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Dr. Martin Myers, representing the National Network for Immunization Information and myself.  The entire article can be accessed here.
Today’s article, Vaccine Gaps Cause Outbreaks, highlights the dilemma faced by families who depend on the herd to protect their children and the dangers of gaps in immunization coverage, particularly in areas of the country with high vaccine exemption rates.  In places like Ferry County, Washington 27% of the children have non-medical exemptions from school vaccine requirements.  “These are the types of communities where imported diseases take hold and spread,” states Lance Rodewald of the CDC.
 Julieanna Metcalf’s traumatic bout with Haemophilus influenzae type b during a 2008 outbreak in Minnesota, which also hospitalized three other children including one who did not survive, is the main focus of the article.  Julieanna’s mother Brendalee Flint, who subsequently became an Every Child By Two Parent Advocate, learned that her child has a rare immune deficiency which renders her body unable to respond to vaccines only after she contracted Hib.  “I just want everybody to know what can happen if you don’t vaccinate your baby…it’s not just your kid.  When you get your child vaccinated, it helps to protect the other kids who don’t have the ability to protect themselves,” states Flint. 
Also highlighted in the article is Gabrielle Romaguera, whose parents have also become outspoken advocates for vaccines since the death of Gabrielle due to whooping cough. The Romagueras reached out to ECBT several years ago after viewing a distressing episode of the Oprah Winfrey show.  Oprah had conducted her first in a series of interviews with actress Jenny McCarthy who urged parents to delay their children’s vaccines after alleging that the MMR vaccine had caused her son’s autism.   Both Danielle and Brendalee traveled to Washington, D.C. to tell their stories to Congress and are featured on ECBT’s Vaccinate Your Baby website.
Also highlighted in the article is Shannon Duffy Peterson who is featured on PKIDs heartfelt public service announcements regarding the death of her six year old daughter from invasive pneumococcal disease. Vanderbilt’s Dr. William Schaffner states that “we all have to be protected so the virus can’t find these babies…we have to provide a cocoon of protection around them.”  Read the entire article online here.

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