Fake news is nothing new to vaccine advocates.
For years we’ve been countering vaccine misinformation from a large number of sites such as Mercola, Natural News, Age of Autism and dozens of others. They each have their own way of claiming that vaccine risks outweigh their benefits, despite the overwhelming scientific evidence from experts around the world that says otherwise.
Despite the fact that these sites fail to provide evidence to back up their false claims, the misinformation they routinely publish is widely circulated on social media and it’s likely that their efforts can contribute to the doubts that some Americans have about the safety and efficacy of today’s vaccines.
This is why day after day, and year after year, countless organizations like Every Child By Two, work hard to provide the public with evidence-based information about vaccines through informative websites like Vaccinate Your Family, and social media accounts like the Vaccinate Your Family Facebook page and @ShotofPrev Twitter account.
But this week, fake vaccine news has entered an entirely new realm and it is rather concerning.
Yesterday I woke to such headlines as, ‘Trump Orders CDC to Remove all Vaccination Related Information from Website’ and ‘President Trump Signed an Executive Order Banning Childhood Vaccinations for 90 Days’.
These, and other outrageous stories that are circulating on the internet, signal a new level of hysteria that is dangerous for us all.
While it is comforting to know that these articles were irresponsibly inaccurate, I’m still left questioning the motives and intent behind these headlines. What were the the authors’ and publishers’ hoping to achieve? Read more…
Make purchases throughout the year with AmazonSmile and Every Child By Two could receive .5% of the price of your eligible purchases as a charitable donation to help in their mission to educate people about vaccines.
AmazonSmile is the same Amazon you may already know, with the same products, the same prices, and the same service.
The only difference is that when you first visit AmazonSmile, you’ll make a few clicks to designate Every Child By Two as your charitable organization of choice. From that point on, every purchase – whether it’s holiday gifts or household necessities – will result in automatic donations to Every Child By Two, at no added cost to you!
It may seem like pennies to you, but last year, Every Child By Two embarked on an ambitious mission and every penny helped.
They started the new year by launching the Vaccinate Your Family website and Facebook page to help educate people about the importance of vaccines throughout the life span, and they’ve made great strides in reaching new audiences with timely news and evidence based information. In fact, for nearly 25 years, Every Child by Two has been a credible resource for reliable, science-based information about vaccines and their safety.
Every Child By Two is committed to improving vaccination rates at all ages, but they need your continued support.
All the donations they receive help fund their ongoing efforts to educate the public about the dangers of vaccine-preventable diseases and the critical importance of following the recommended immunization schedule. They also provide critical support for the development of educational programs, as well as strong immunization policies aimed at protecting families from vaccine-preventable diseases.
They have accomplished so much, but there is still much to be done.
Nationwide adult vaccination rates remain dismally low, and only about half of pregnant women are getting the recommended vaccines that can help pass immunity on to their unborn children. There are still many preteens and teens that are not fully protected from meningococcal and HPV. And people of all ages continue to suffer and die from vaccine preventable diseases.
But you can help by designating Every Child By Two to receive a charitable donation when you make purchases through the AmazonSmile program.
For more information on how you can make a direct donation via debit, credit card or PayPal, click here.
To learn more about how your donations will support Every Child By Two and their efforts to protect people from vaccine-preventable diseases, click here.
In recognition of National Immunization Awareness Month (#NIAM16), Every Child By Two’s #StateofTheImmUnion campaign will highlight the importance of vaccines throughout the lifespan. We are excited to present the first in a series of guest posts from colleagues throughout the nation who will provide their perspective on the topic of the week for #NIAM16.
The following post focusing on adult vaccines was written by Anna Dragsbaek, President and CEO of The Immunization Partnership, a Texas-based non-profit organization dedicated to the eradication of vaccine-preventable diseases through education, advocacy for science-based immunization policy and the support of immunization best practices.
During this week of National Immunization Awareness Month, it’s a good time to reflect on how we are doing as a state and as a nation with vaccinating our communities, including adults. And while Texas is the best state in the union for a number of reasons, when it comes to vaccinating our adults, we have some work to do.
Bigger isn’t always better.
Fewer than half of Texas adults got the flu vaccine last season — far short of the Healthy People 2020 objective of 70 percent. Why is this? Some of it has to do with the things that are bigger — but that we wish weren’t. Take, for instance, the percentage of people whose access to vaccinations might be limited by their lack of health insurance. According to the Texas Medical Association, one in four adults in Texas don’t have medical insurance; nationwide, the number is one in six, the CDC reports.
The Adult Safety Net Program is designed to help uninsured adults gain access to vaccines by providing low-cost immunization — and it does help. Many adults are able to access to vaccines who otherwise wouldn’t be able to because of this program. But it can only do so much. And all too often adults live in areas where they don’t have access to an Adult Safety Net provider, don’t qualify for the program themselves, or area providers don’t offer all the vaccines recommended by the CDC.
And even those with insurance can find it difficult to gain access to vaccination for other reasons.
Texas has the largest rural population in the country — a fact that becomes abundantly apparent on the roughly 11-hour drive from Houston to El Paso. The entire state takes up more than 260,000 square miles. To put that into perspective, that’s nearly the square footage of neighboring states New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana combined. With so much ground to cover, many in the state have to travel long distances to see a healthcare provider. And because not all providers participate in the Adult Safety Net Program, the distance that uninsured Texans must drive can be significantly longer — even though these tend to be the people who can least afford the time and gas for a long drive.
But perhaps most importantly, many adults — especially young adults —simply don’t know that immunizations are recommended not just during childhood or when you’re in school, but also from age 19 on.
That could be, in part, due to the infrequency with which adults seek preventative care from their health home. Primary care providers (PCP) are often the chief health educators for families of all ages, and if adults aren’t seeing their PCPs (because of lack of insurance or access issues), they might not be getting information on what vaccines they might need and why.
But if anyone is up for a challenge, it’s Texans.
This spring we traveled across the state of Texas to talk with more than 700 healthcare providers, public health officials and vaccine advocates about what they experience on the ground as they work to protect our communities. And one thing is abundantly clear: Texans protect Texans. There are a lot of hard-working people throughout this great state who are committed to doing what they can to improve immunization rates across the lifespan and protect our communities from needless suffering as a result of vaccine-preventable diseases.
Community health workers are putting together health fairs to offer free flu vaccines for adults in Houston. Coalitions are working together in West Texas, the Panhandle and the Rio Grande Valley to educate and vaccinate adults in their communities. And stakeholders are working with the Texas state government in Austin to expand the vaccines available to uninsured adults and improve the statewide immunization registry to promote adult participation.
Things look like they’re getting better.
During the 2010-2011 flu season, about 40 percent of Texas adults were vaccinated against flu. In 2014-2015? That number was 45 percent. Sure, the progress is slow. And to move the needle even further, we’ll have to come together as a state to educate the adult population and push for laws and policies that could help improve access and uptake.
If there’s one thing we can be bigger — and better — at, it’s working together for better health for adults and families. But we’re Texans afterall. We don’t shy away from a challenge.
Find out more about the great works of Texas’ Immunization Partnership by visiting www.immunizeUSA.org/blog
Join us next week as we present a guest blog from a physician colleague from California on the #NIAM16 topic of Pregnancy
This guest post was written by Alethea Mshar out of concern for her son Ben. A version of this post originally appeared on her blog Ben’s Writing, Running Mom.
Like all parents, my child’s health is very important to me. That’s why, even after getting an autism diagnosis for my son, I still believe in and advocate for vaccinations.
I don’t believe autism is caused by MMR or any other vaccinations.
The allegations made by Andrew Wakefield, the man who tried to convince the world of an MMR vaccine-autism link, were based on falsified data, yet he continues to make his claim to try to frighten people throughout the world. This article by Brian Deer systematically addresses Wakefield’s flawed theories and debunks the autism myth that Andrew Wakefield has perpetuated.
As if that weren’t enough, there have been countless studies that have investigated any possible link between vaccines and autism and no evidence can be found to support such a link. (You can access the latest published research here, here and here.)
The science is clear, and yet there are many autism advocacy organizations that continue to install fear in parents who just want what’s best for their children.
As this Newsweek article explains:
“Despite the science, organizations involved in the anti-vaccine movement still hope to find some evidence that vaccines threaten children’s health. For example, the autism advocacy organization SafeMinds, —whose mission is to raise awareness about how certain environmental exposures may be linked to autism, recently funded research it hoped would prove vaccines cause autism in children. But this effort appears to have backfired for the organization—since the study they funded failed to show any link between autism and vaccines.”
Alycia Halladay, chief science officer at the Autism Science Foundation, commends SafeMinds for financially supporting the study, but she worries that some autism advocates may be asking the wrong questions.
“I’m not saying that we need to stop funding research in the environment, because we know the environment does impact neurodevelopment,” she says.
However, Halladay explains that organizations that look to blame vaccines for causing autism are “playing whack-a-mole”.
“First, the proposed association was between the MMR vaccines and autism. Then that was disproven. Then it was the thimerosal components in vaccines; now that has been further disproven in a carefully designed animal model study that aimed to specifically examine that question. It has also been suggested that the association is because of vaccine timing, but that too has been disproven. The target always seems to be moving, and the expectation is that scientific resources will be diverted to address each new modification of this hypothesized link.”
While there may always be people who will believe there is a link between vaccines and autism, despite the science that proves otherwise, I’m writing today to explain another issue that has swayed my decision to support vaccines.
This issue is one of life and death for my son Ben.
I realize, very clearly, that without vaccinations my son would die.
That is why I am a fan of modern medicine and the science that makes vaccines possible. If Ben had been born a century sooner, he wouldn’t have survived his Hirschsprung’s disease. Had he been born less than a half century sooner, he wouldn’t have survived leukemia. As it is, we have come face to face with his mortality several times. I see vaccinations along the same lines as chemotherapy – far from perfect, but with the help of the scientific method, getting better all the time. Vaccines, and even chemotherapy in Ben’s case, are the best shot we have at giving our child a long, healthy life.
For us, though, it goes a step further.
Ben is also immunocompromised.
That means that even fully vaccinated, he doesn’t have enough ability to fight off diseases. He is that kid. The kid who needs herd immunity. He’s the reason our whole family gets flu shots and chicken pox vaccines. He’s the kid who needed boosters for pneumococcal vaccines – because his body lost immunity to them. Even though we do our best to protect him, he’s the kid that could get infected during a measles outbreak. And he is the kid whose body is weak and who is very likely to succumb to a disease like measles, which would inevitably hospitalize him or worse…cost him his life.
I wrote this piece after weeks of consideration. I realize this could ruffle feathers. So I ask…
If you don’t vaccinate, have you researched the diseases we vaccinate against as well as the side effects of vaccinations? Have you seen what polio and diphtheria can do? Do you realize that if measles encephalitis sets in that your child will be isolated in the Intensive Care Unit while you wait to find out if he or she is the lucky one who survives with brain damage? And do you realize that, statistically speaking, the greatest risk in getting a vaccine for your child is driving your child to the doctor’s office?
I realize the rhetoric goes around and around, and that I’m about as likely to change your mind as you are likely to change mine. But if there’s that tiny chance that you’re really considering all the facts, I’m hopeful that Ben’s face and plight would make a difference. After all, I am his mother, and I must do everything I can to protect him and keep him healthy. I have to try.
I have a sad feeling that it will take a true epidemic to turn the tide. I just hope that my child will not end up as a casualty. He is not a statistic, nor would I ever want him to be one…he’s our precious child and we don’t want to lose him.
So please remember, your vaccination status could mean the life or death of a child like Ben.
Every Child By Two is collaborating with various immunization advocacy organizations to collect personal stories about the value of vaccines. These stories will then be shared with state and federal legislators throughout National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM) in August. Help ensure that our government representatives know that our country, our communities, our students and our families deserve protection from vaccine preventable diseases. Join the movement and speak out in favor of vaccines by sharing your story at the following link: bit.ly/28NoZCR.
The Hepatitis B vaccine prevents cancer. Take action.
A guest post by Carolyn Aldigé, President and Founder, Prevent Cancer Foundation
Parents want the best for their children and will do much to ensure that they live happy and healthy lives. However, statistics show that parents are missing the opportunity to protect their children against cancer. This is why the “State of the ImmUnion” effort led by Every Child by Two is so important. The rates for vaccination against the hepatitis B virus in children need improvement, and the hepatitis B vaccine not only offers protection against the virus, but also, ultimately, prevents cancer.
Unfortunately, not enough people are aware of the connection between hepatitis B and liver cancer. In an effort to help save lives, the Prevent Cancer Foundation launched Think About the Link, an education campaign to raise awareness of the link between certain viruses and cancer, including hepatitis B and liver cancer, and how to prevent them.
Hepatitis B is a liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus.
Approximately 700,000 to 1.4 million people in this country have a chronic hepatitis B virus infection. A transfer of the virus can occur from mother to child during birth. Transmission also can occur through bodily fluids from a person who has the virus; sexual contact; or through sharing needles, syringes, or other drug-injection equipment. Over time, the virus can lead to serious liver conditions, including cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) or liver cancer. Liver cancer kills approximately 16,000 men and 7,000 women in the U.S. each year. Unfortunately, the numbers continue to rise each year. However, through vaccination against the hepatitis B virus, the disease can be prevented.
Follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended schedule for the hepatitis B vaccine to offer your child the greatest protection, since nearly 90 percent of infants who contract hepatitis B remain chronically infected, while only two to six percent of adults do.
The CDC recommends all children receive their first dose of the hepatitis B vaccine at birth and complete the three-to-four dose series between six and 18 months of age. Currently, only 72 percent of babies receive their first dose at birth. We believe this percentage is not higher because parents are unaware the vaccine also prevents liver cancer.
According to a survey conducted by the Prevent Cancer Foundation, 67 percent of adults are unaware the hepatitis B vaccine can reduce the risk of liver cancer. Additionally, we found that only 27 percent of physicians and other health care providers use cancer prevention as a compliance strategy for this vaccine.
We can help more people think about the link between viruses and cancer.
If you are a health care provider, be sure to discuss the hepatitis B vaccine as a cancer prevention strategy with parents and other adults. If you are a parent whose child has not been vaccinated against the hepatitis B virus, make an appointment to talk with your doctor today.
Also, if you are an adult who has not received the hepatitis B vaccine, which became available in 1982, make an appointment with your health care provider to be screened and/or vaccinated. It is not too late. There are cancers that science has not yet discovered how to prevent; however, there are several types of the disease that we can avoid. Vaccinating against the hepatitis B virus is a proven method to prevent liver cancer.
For more information about Think About the Link and helpful resources on hepatitis B, visit the Prevent Cancer Foundation website.
Help spread the word about the link so we can Stop Cancer Before It Starts!™
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.
After 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 exposed 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.
This post is part of a blog relay sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in recognition of National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW). You can follow the conversation on social media using hashtag #NIIW and join the #VaxQA Twitter Chat Wednesday, April 20th at 4 p.m. ET
Protecting kids from disease requires more than just getting them their recommended childhood vaccinations. It requires the commitment of an entire community.
Thanks to an abundance of evidence based research, we’re constantly learning new and improved ways to protect our children; from safer rear-facing car seats with five-point harnesses, to wearing bike helmets and recommending that babies sleep on their backs. Thankfully, advancements in medical science have also led to safe and effective vaccines that can protect today’s children from as many as 14 potentially deadly diseases.
This commitment to scientific research has provided us with the safest, most effective vaccine supply in history. Today’s vaccines not only contain less antigens than they did years ago, but they have fewer side effects. There is even a system in place to continually evaluate vaccine safety and a process to update and improve vaccine recommendations as new information and science becomes available.
The impact of infant immunizations is monumental.
It is estimated that vaccines administered to American children born between 1994-2013 will prevent an estimated 322 million illnesses, 21 million hospitalizations, and 732,000 deaths. In looking at the incidence of specific diseases like measles, we can see how beneficial childhood vaccines have been. For instance, before the U.S. measles vaccination program started in 1963, about 3–4 million people in the U.S. got measles each year. In comparison, last year we had 189 cases and even that seemed like a lot.
While these successes are to be applauded, there’s still more that can be done to protect today’s children and future generations from dangerous diseases.
Timely childhood vaccinations are critical.
The recommended childhood vaccination schedule is specifically designed to provide immunity at a time when infants and young children are at the greatest risk of contracting potentially life-threatening diseases.
Take Hepatitis B for example. If a child contracts this disease before the age of one, there is a 90% probability that they will develop chronic symptoms later in life. However, only 30% of children who contract hepatitis B between the ages of one and five will go on to develop these chronic issues.
But vaccinating babies isn’t enough to ensure children will grow to be healthy adults.
Keeping children safe from preventable disease requires community immunity.
Because widespread vaccination programs have been so effective in preventing diseases in the U.S., many parents don’t realize that diseases like polio and diphtheria still exist. Some don’t consider diseases like whooping cough, varicella or measles to be a serious threat to their children. This miscalculation of risk can lead to vaccine complacency or refusal.
But the fact is that vaccine-preventable diseases are still circulating in the U.S. and around the world. Even when diseases are rare in the U.S., they can still be commonly transmitted in many parts of the world and brought into the country by unvaccinated individuals, putting entire communities at risk.
This explains the recent resurgence of measles cases in the U.S. , despite measles having been declared eliminated from the U.S. in 2000. Today’s outbreaks are often the result of unvaccinated individuals who contract the disease oversees and then return to the states where they spread it to others. But unvaccinated individuals don’t just put themselves at risk; their choices impact the health of our communities as a whole. Read more…