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Posts Tagged ‘Callie Van Tornhout’

Stories of Polio, Meningitis, HPV, Hepatitis and Pertussis Top 2016 List

December 28, 2016 Leave a comment

Every Child By Two’s online platforms have reached over 11 million people with evidence based vaccine messaging in 2016.  As we look back at the record number of views and shares there have been on Shot of Prevention blog posts this past year, we’re especially grateful to our blog readers, contributors and subscribers.  

Whether you have shared a post, shared your story, or shared your expertise, know that our growth and success would not have been possible without your support.  Thanks to you, people are referencing our content before making important immunization decisions for themselves and their families.  In these final days of 2016, we hope that you will revisit these top five posts from the past year and share them with others in your social networks.  Together, we can continue to engage more people in these important immunization discussions.

 

1. My Polio Story is an Inconvenient Truth to Those Who Refuse Vaccines


Judy Post Polio with SisterIn 1949, Judith contracted polio along with 42,000 other people in the U.S. Judith survived five months in the hospital and multiple surgeries, but sadly 2,720 people died from polio that year.  As Judith bravely shares her story, she explains that it represents an inconvenient truth to people who are in denial about the risks of polio. She is continually shocked by people who refuse vaccines, who refuse to believe she ever suffered with polio, or who actually believe the polio vaccine is part of a government or “big pharma” conspiracy.  By sharing Judith’s story we hope to encourage continued polio vaccination and support of polio eradication worldwide and applaud people like Judith who are courageous enough to speak out in support of vaccines.  To read Judith’s story, click here.

 

2. How My Vaccinated Daughter Died From Meningitis and What I’m Doing About It  


EmilyStillmanEmily Stillman was pronounced brain-dead just 30 hours from the onset of a severe headache.  What they though was a migraine turned out to be meningococcal disease. In this post Emily’s mother Alicia explains that although Emily received a meningococcal vaccine, the MCV4 vaccine she received only protected her against meningococcal serogroups A, C, W and Y.  It did not protect her against serogroup B, which is what caused Emily’s death.  Since Emily’s death, a MenB vaccine has been approved for use.  However, most parents still don’t know it exists and therefore, most students are still not protected.

As the Director of The Emily Stillman Foundation, Alicia Stillman helps educate people about the importance of “complete and total” protection against all serogroups of meningococcal disease.  This means ensuring that teens and young adults receive both meningococcal vaccines; the MCV4 vaccine that protects against serogroups A,C, W and Y, as well as a MenB vaccine series.  To learn more about fully protecting our youth against meningococcal disease, read Alicia’s guest blog here.

 

3. Questioning Whether to Get Your Child the HPV Vaccine? Read This


hpv-fact-vs-fiction-series-1Although the HPV vaccine is one of the most effective ways we have to prevent numerous types of cancer, it is still being grossly underutilized.  As a result of persistent but inaccurate myths circulating on the internet, some parents are more fearful of the HPV vaccine than the human papillomavirus itself.  This is causing them to refuse or delay HPV vaccination for their children.

In this popular blog post, we highlight ten critical facts that address the most common misconceptions about HPV infection and the vaccine that can help prevent this very common infection. To learn more, be sure to read the post here.

 

4. Understanding Why Your Baby Needs a Hepatitis B Vaccine at Birth  


 

stateoftheimmunion_hepb_fb_v2

There are many misconceptions about hepatitis B and how the infection is transmitted.  Because of this, many parents don’t consider their children to be at risk of infection and so they question the need for a hepatitis B vaccine at birth.  In this post, the Prevent Cancer Foundation explains the connection between hepatitis B and liver cancer and discusses ways in which infants and children can unknowingly contract hepatitis B.  Their Think About the Linkeducation campaign suggests that vaccinating infants before they leave the hospital is a critical first step in protecting your newborn from a virus that can lead to cancer later in life.  To learn more about Hepatitis B and the vaccine to prevent it, click here.

 

5. Barbara Loe Fisher is Right.  She’s Also to Blame. 


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Back in the 1980’s, Barbara Loe Fisher claimed that the whole cell pertussis vaccine (DTP)  was dangerous and causing too many adverse events.  Her complaints prompted the development of the more purified (acellular) pertussis vaccines that we use today; DTaP for infants, and Tdap for adolescents and adults. While studies have shown that these newer vaccines are not as effective as the old whole cell pertussis vaccine, they are the best protections we have against the dangers of pertussis.

Unfortunately, those who need protection the most are those who are too young to be vaccinated.  Infants are at high risk of severe complications from pertussis, to include hospitalization and death, but babies don’t begin receiving pertussis vaccine until two months of age.  After newborn Calle Van Tornhout contracted pertussis from a hospital nurse at birth, she died at just 37 days of age.  Callie’s death has had her home state of Indiana considering a bill that would mandate pertussis vaccination among health care workers.  But Barbara Loe Fisher is opposed to that as well.  To read more about the history of pertussis vaccines, click here.

 

If you have suggestions for topics you would like us to address in 2016, or you would like to contribute a guest post for publication, please email shotofprevention@gmail.com.  

Don’t miss any of our new posts.   Subscribe to Shot of Prevention by clicking the link at the top right of this page.  You can also “Like” our Vaccinate Your Family Facebook page to receive updates on important immunization news and join in our online discussions.   

Thanks again for your continued support and best wishes for a happy and healthy new year!

Parents Play Key Role as Local & National Vaccine Advocates

April 28, 2016 1 comment

Parents who have watched their child suffer from a vaccine preventable disease can often feel blindsided.  Prior to their own personal experiences they’re usually unfamiliar with the dangers of these diseases.  Sometimes they don’t realize that these diseases are a threat or that they continue to infect people around the country and the world. In cases of influenza and pertussis, we often see children who were unvaccinated because they were too young to start receiving these vaccines.  In other cases, like those involving meningococcal serogroup B, parents were simply not aware of the need for, or the availability of, a certain vaccine. There are even times when parents who have lost a child to a vaccine preventable disease are surprised to learn that some people choose not to vaccinate, and in doing so contribute to disease outbreaks that put others at increased risk.

In the 25 years that Every Child By Two has spent trying to protect families from vaccine-preventable diseases, they’ve had the distinct honor of working with many parents who’ve lost a child to a preventable disease.  These Parent Advocates want to prevent such a tragedy from happening again and in working with organizations like Every Child By Two, they’re able to use their personal stories to help educate the public about the need for vaccines.

Katie and Craig Van Tornhout are two such people who have turned a tragedy into a personal mission.

CallieCaresProfilePicAfter five years and four miscarriages this young couple believed their prayers had been answered when they finally welcomed their precious daughter Callie into their lives. However, their joy quickly turned to sorrow on January 30, 2010, when Callie died of pertussis at only five weeks of age.

Callie was too young to have started her infant DTaP vaccination series, which begins at 2 months of age and helps protect against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis.  In the months that followed Callie’s death, the Van Tornhout’s learned a lot about the dangers of pertussis and the importance of adult Tdap vaccine.  They learned that pertussis is especially deadly to infants and that
most infants who contract pertussis are typically VYF_FB01exposed by an adult whose own pertussis immunity may have waned from the vaccine they received as a child.  And they learned that Callie contracted pertussis in the very hospital she was born in.

In an effort to prevent other children from suffering the way Callie had, the Van Tornhout’s are now helping to educate others about the risk of pertussis.  They not only encourage other parents to fully vaccinate their children, but they stress the importance of adult Tdap boosters, which are especially important for expectant mothers as well as the close family members and caregivers of young babies.

Over the past six years they have channeled their grief into something positive.

Read more…

Barbara Loe Fisher is Right. She’s Also To Blame.

March 3, 2016 19 comments

Barbara Loe Fisher may be right about one thing.

We need a better Tdap vaccine to prevent pertussis (also known as whooping cough).

However, her opposition to legislation in Indiana that would require hospital employees be up-to-date on Tdap, flu and MMR vaccines is unsupported.  Fisher has publicly defended her position in a FOX28 news clip when she states that Tdap vaccines should not be mandated because they don’t work. However, this is an example of what’s known as a nirvana fallacy.

VYF_FB01Tdap vaccines do work. Maybe not 100% of the time, but that doesn’t mean they don’t work. 

In fact, data shows that pertussis vaccines protect about 7 out of 10 people who receive them.  That’s enough for the World Health Organization to justify using it across the globe to help prevent pertussis, as well as diphtheria and tetanus. Sorry Barb, but in lieu of a better option to prevent a highly infectious and sometimes deadly  disease such as pertussis, the Tdap vaccine is the best defense we have.  It’s certainly better than the 0 out of 10 people who are protected by avoiding vaccination all together.

Interestingly enough, what Fisher avoids admitting is that her opposition to the whole cell pertussis vaccination (DTP) is why we are in the situation we are in today.  Back in the 80’s, Fisher led the charge against the whole cell pertussis vaccine, claiming it had too many adverse events. This prompted the development of a more purified (acellular) pertussis vaccine (DTaP).  By 1997, a newly licensed DTaP vaccine was being recommended by the ACIP in place of the DTP vaccine for the full 5-dose pediatric schedule.  While the new vaccine appeared less likely to provoke adverse events, studies have since shown that it has not been as effective in providing lasting immunity.

The truth is, Fisher has never really been interested in making vaccines safer.  She co-founded the National Vaccine Information Center in 1982 to help organize a movement of vaccine refusal and oppose any public policy that endorses the use of vaccines.

Unfortunately, while we are stuck with a less than ideal vaccine, children like Callie Van Tornhout are dying from pertussis infection.

People of all ages can be affected by pertussis. However, it is most dangerous for babies, as they are at particularly high risk of severe complications, hospitalization and death.  About half of babies younger than one year who get the disease need care in the hospital, and 1 out of 100 babies who get treatment in the hospital die.  Most unvaccinated children who are living with an infected family member will contract pertussis themselves.  There is no real cure for pertussis, only treatments that help address the symptoms.

Families_callie_van_tornhoutIn the case of Callie Van Tornhout, detailed in the FOX28 news clip out of Indiana, transmission of pertussis from a hospital employee to a vulnerable newborn too young for vaccination proved to be deadly.  Callie was only 38 days old and had never been anywhere besides her family home and the hospital. This is why Callie’s mom Katie Van Tornhout is speaking out in support of the proposed Indiana bill (SB 162).

Katie, like the many others who support this bill, believes that hospital employees who have direct contact with patients should take reasonable precautions in order to protect themselves and their patients from preventable diseases like pertussis.  That means they should be up-to-date on ACIP recommended vaccines such as Tdap, flu and MMR, that are proven to be safe and effective.

Katie explains, ”If you’re taking care of my child in the hospital and you’re not vaccinated, then what good is that? You’re putting that baby in danger.  You’re putting everyone in danger.”

Read more…

Outbreaks Remind Us of Dangers of Disease and Benefits of Vaccines

January 30, 2015 16 comments

Rafiki, the wise old mandrill in Disney’s Lion King movie, made a profound statement that is extremely relevant to the current U.S. measles outbreak that began in Disneyland in December, 2014:

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Yes, the past can hurt.  Infectious diseases have a history of being dangerous and deadly.

All you have to do is look at history to see how many millions of lives have been lost, or how many people have been permanently disabled, by infectious diseases. It’s no small number.  And, there’s a long list of diseases that we can now prevent that have been leading killers in the past.  Today, vaccination greatly reduces disease, disability, death and inequity worldwide.  Vaccines given to infants and young children in the U.S. over the past two decades will prevent 322 million illnesses, 21 million hospitalizations and 732,000 deaths over the course of their lifetimes.  While it’s hard to see what doesn’t occur, the fact remains that vaccines save lives and prevent suffering.

Some people will choose to run from the past.  They’re called vaccine refusers.

No matter how much scientific evidence there is to prove vaccines are responsible for the incredible reduction of disease worldwide, there will always be some people who will run from the truth.  They either debate it, or simply ignore it.  These are the people who purposely refuse vaccines.  Sometimes they focus their efforts on trying to pin every possible ailment known to man (from SIDS, asthma, allergies, autism, etc.) on vaccines.  Other times they focus on the risk associated with vaccines.  In the case of the MMR vaccine, they prefer to focus on the less than a one in one million chance of a serious adverse reaction rather than the fact that one or two of every 1,000 children who have measles will likely die.  What is particularly frustrating is their tendency to ignore the present reality as well as the past.   In cases when the scientific community has investigated their concerns, they ignore the findings because they fail to support their previously held beliefs.

Most people have learned from the past, but remain at risk from those who haven’t.  

Thankfully, the overwhelming majority of people vaccinate.  These are the people who actively try to protect themselves, their families, and others in their community, by contributing to the benefits of herd immunity and trying to reduce the transmission of vaccine preventable diseases.  Unfortunately, the minority can sometimes jeopardize the herd.

Take the Van Tornhout family for instance.  Today mark’s the fifth anniversary of their daughter Callie’s death.  Callie was exposed to pertussis before she was old enough to begin her DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis) vaccination series.  Her story was featured on CNN last week, as an example of how concerning the current measles outbreak is.  Unfortunately, there are many children under the age of one who are too young to receive the regularly scheduled MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine who are at increased risk of complications of measles as a direct result of this outbreak.

Katie and Craig Van Tornhout with their newborn daughter Callie

Katie and Craig Van Tornhout lost their newborn daughter Callie to pertussis.  She was only 38 days old and too young to be vaccinated.

Sadly, the Van Tornhout’s can’t run from the past.  Every day without their daughter Callie is a reminder of why they must continue to educate people on the importance of vaccines.

Stories like Callie’s are shared repeatedly.  On the national news.  On various social media sites.  On websites and blogs.  And even around the family dinner table.  We share these stories so people will realize that these diseases still pose a threat to our children, especially those too young to be fully vaccinated.  Unfortunately, some people remain conflicted about the lessons of the past.  On the one hand, they consider vaccinating to protect themselves and their children from these preventable diseases because they hear stories about children like Callie.  But on the other hand, they’re frightened by prolific misinformation that reinforces their suspicions that vaccines may be harmful.  For fear of making the wrong decision, they fail to make the responsible decision to vaccinate, which then results in a decision which jeopardizes the health of everyone else in their communities.

Today, in honor of Callie’s fifth angel-versary, I urge everyone to do what you can to help ensure no other child dies as a result of a vaccine preventable disease.  Don’t be reluctant to engage in a conversation about vaccines with friends or family.  Don’t refrain from sharing scientifically accurate vaccine information on social media.  Don’t be afraid to ask a non-vaccinator what their objections are.  And please don’t let the past repeat itself.  Sign up to receive notifications from Every Child By Two so you can stay informed of relevant immunization news, now and into the future.  

Timehop Brings Back Pertussis Memories Too Painful to Forget

January 28, 2015 2 comments

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.

PertussisAlmost 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 

󾬏 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

Ugh I hate this disease!! No family should have to endure this pain 󾍄 vaccination is so important

Kathryn Riffenburg

18 hrs · Timehop · 

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.

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.

Kathryn Riffenburg

6 hrs · Timehop · 

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.

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 󾬏

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.

Infant Dies at 38 Days But Her Story Tries to Save Lives

January 30, 2014 6 comments

Katie and Craig Van Tornhout with their miracle baby CallieAfter five years and four miscarriages, Katie and Craig Van Tornhout celebrated the birth of their daughter Callie.   Although she arrived a few weeks early, she was truly their miracle baby.  But their joy quickly turned to grief when a disease called pertussis, also known as whooping cough, claimed her life at just 38 days old.

Katie explains,

“To an adult, pertussis can seem like just a stubborn cough, but to Callie and other newborns who are too young to be immunized, it can be deadly because they aren’t able to fight it off.   In an infant, it’s likely that this disease can result in respiratory failure.  IV tubes or ventilators may be needed to help a baby breathe and they are in danger of having their lungs shut down.  As a mother, I can’t tell you how heartbreaking this is to watch.”

Families_callie_van_tornhoutToday marks the four-year “angelversary” of Callie’s passing, and in that time a lot has changed.

In 2012, 48,277 people were diagnosed with pertussis and the Advisory Council of Immunization Practices (ACIP) issued new vaccine recommendations advising all expectant women to receive a Tdap booster with each pregnancy, preferably in their third trimester.  Not only does the vaccine help protect the mother from contracting pertussis and infecting her own newborn, it also provides maternal antibodies that can protect the newborn in those early months before the baby can be fully vaccinated.

ECBT_Pertussis English_Bus Shelter_HIGH RES SmallAnd a lot has changed for the Van Tornhout family as well.  In addition to their 17-year-old son Cole, the Van Tornhout’s have since had two other children, Chesney and Cain, with another on the way.  With each new pregnancy they have taken every precaution to protect their babies from pertussis, and every opportunity to educate others about the importance of their adult Tdap boosters.  Not only have they insisted that friends and family be immunized, but they’ve also ensured that every hospital staff member who has had contact with their babies was also up to date on their Tdap booster.

“We still wonder where Callie contracted pertussis. She was only five weeks old and never went anywhere except to see her doctor.  I wish I had known that Callie was vulnerable to this disease and I wish I had known about the need for adult Tdap boosters.  I would have insisted that I, my husband and our friends and family who came to visit be immunized. I would have asked more questions about the nurses who handled Callie in the NICU, and whether they had been immunized.” Read more…