National Immunization Conference: What Have We Learned?
Apr 22, 2010

By Christine Vara
The other night, after struggling with her homework, my daughter asked me “Mom, do you get mad at yourself when you make a mistake?”
I paused a moment before I recited one of my most frequently used mommy mantras.  “No one is perfect.  We all make mistakes.  What is important is that we learn from them.” 
Day after day, I expect my children to always try their best, but I know that they will make their share of mistakes.  Who doesn’t?  Yet, it is through these experiences that they will learn.  If we are too concerned about making mistakes, we neglect to try to accomplish that which has never been achieved.  This concept applies to my eight year old’s homework, as much as it does to my 13 year old’s soccer skills, and not surprisingly to society in general. 
This week many public health advocates gathered for the National Immunization Conference in Atlanta.  One of the goals of this conference, according to the CDC website, is to encourage participants to explore innovative strategies for developing programs, policy, and research in order to promote immunization coverage for all age groups.  A review of the agenda references a wide variety of immunization concerns such as barriers to vaccination, vaccine development and safety, immunization registries, health communication, education, policy and legislation, as well as global immunization surveillance. Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, was even there to deliver the keynote address.
Of course, there are plenty of public health critics who voice their disappointment in regards to our public health system, and some even suggest improvements.  Fortunately, many of the health advocates attending this week’s conference were there to do the very same thing.    After reviewing the conference agenda, it is clear that the emphasis of this conference was to provide a forum for field experts to share their experiences and pass along lessons learned in an effort to improve practices, implementation and resources.  What better hope do we have for progress than a conference committed to comprehensive immunization education amongst the field experts?  Certainly there are models that are working that we can learn from and even continue to improve upon, which is why I am looking forward to hearing what was shared as the conference concludes.    
As parents, we need to be committed to doing our part as well.  Our children will continue to face life threatening diseases as adolescents and even adults.  If we are to ensure the health of our children and all children well into the future, than we need to remain vigilant and do our part to educate ourselves in regards to immunizations for all ages. We need to learn from one another and share resources, just as we expect the public health advocates to do at the conference. 
I’m curious to know what resources parents have found to be helpful.    For those who may have attended the conference, perhaps they can share their personal insight on the benefits of the conference.

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