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Posts Tagged ‘Vaccinate Your Family’

Impact of Latest Congressional Actions on Immunization Programs

December 12, 2017 Leave a comment
By Erica DeWald, Director of Advocacy, Every Child By Two/Vaccinate Your Family

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As we near the end of 2017, we want to extend a big thanks to each of you! Without your support for immunizations, our voice would not be heard in Washington. Only through regular outreach to our lawmakers have we been able to demonstrate the impact federal policies would have on vaccination rates and thus our country’s health.

Unfortunately, our work for the year isn’t over yet. We are still closely monitoring the appropriations process as well as the reauthorization of the Children’s Health Program (CHIP), which provides health coverage for 8.9 million children who are uninsured.

Congress has twice extended the deadline for an FY18 spending bill. The next Continuing Resolution (CR) expires December 22. A new proposal from House Appropriations Chairman Frelinghuysen would extend funding for all non-defense spending through January 19 and reauthorize the CHIP funding for five-years. Unfortunately, the proposal also includes $6.35 billion in cuts to the Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF). As a reminder, PPHF accounts for 53% of the Immunization Program’s funding.

The Immunization Program’s non-PPHF funding also remains in jeopardy. The Senate has proposed level funding from FY17 for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Immunization Program (which received a 4 million dollar cut last year), while the House has proposed a 50 million dollar cut. That large of a cut would devastate immunization infrastructure. 

Both CHIP and the Immunization Program enjoy bipartisan support but Congress has had difficulty understanding how their funding choices affect our nation’s health. If fewer children are able to access health care through CHIP – either because Congress is delaying reauthorization or because they have instituted new demands that states match funds – then less children will end up receiving life-saving vaccines. Second, if Congress uses Prevention & Public Health Fund (PPHF) dollars to help pay for CHIP as proposed in the House bill, they are in fact cutting essential funds from the very public health clinics and immunization programs that accept CHIP and provide care to children.

Please consider calling your Representative and Senators to urge them to support ALL public health funding. Ask them to reauthorize CHIP without using the PPHF as a budgetary offset. You can find contact information for your legislators at whoismyrepresentative.com.

Every Child By Two/Vaccinate Your Family will continue to watch these legislative issues and do our best to keep you informed.   

Thank you again for your interest and support!

10 Things Parents Who Don’t Vaccinate Their Kids Should Know

It’s not uncommon for a parent who has lost a child to a vaccine preventable disease to try to spare other families from the same agonizing heartache. 

In some cases, these children may have suffered with a preventable disease because they were unvaccinated.  This could be the result of parents who did not have access to certain vaccines, parents who willfully refused a particular vaccine, or in the case of Riley Hughes, infants who were too young to be fully vaccinated.

Riley was a healthy baby boy born in Australia on February 13th, 2015.  At three weeks of age he started exhibiting cold-like symptoms with an occasional cough. When he was just 32 days old, Riley passed away in the arms of his parents.  

pertussis112315While in the hospital, Riley was diagnosed with pertussis, also known as whooping cough.  At that time, the U.S., the UK, Belgium and New Zealand, were already advising expectant women to get an adult Tdap vaccine at 28-32 weeks of pregnancy in order to transfer protective antibodies to their unborn babies.  This practice helps protect infants from pertussis at a time when they are most vulnerable to infection and subsequent complications.  It’s also the only way newborns can benefit from some protective antibodies before they are two months of age and begin receiving the first of five doses of DTaP vaccine to become fully vaccinated against pertussis.

Unfortunately, the Australian government hadn’t adopted this practice until shortly after Riley’s death. Since then, Riley’s parents have made it their mission to educate people about the dangers of whooping cough, and promote the need for vaccination so that no other family would have to suffer like they did.

Sadly, there are still some parents who choose not to vaccinate.  In a plea to these parents, Riley’s mom posted the following list of “things to know” on the Light for Riley Facebook page:

 


Ten things I want parents who don’t vaccinate their kids to know:

1. There are no cures for most of the diseases we vaccinate against.

2. Even if you choose not to vaccinate, please, please, please make yourselves aware of the symptoms of these potentially fatal diseases. Infections like meningococcal can kill within 24 hours, and every minute counts.

12244586_1518881475089295_4527321516860468835_o3. If you’re really worried about vaccine “toxins”, you don’t want to see what the toxins from Bordetella Pertussis (the bacteria responsible for whooping cough) can do. Trust me – I watched my newborn son die from it. Read more…

Educational Materials For Daycare Centers To Inspire Vaccination

April 27, 2017 7 comments

niiw-blog-a-thon-badgeSince 1994, communities throughout the United States have joined together during National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW) to celebrate the critical role vaccination plays in protecting our children and our communities.  As we continue to recognize the achievements of immunization programs all across the country, as part of this year’s National Infant Immunization Week celebration, we’ve heard parents ask,

“What can I do to spread the word about the value of vaccines in my community?” 

One way parents can help promote healthy communities is by sharing materials that  help educate others about the benefits of timely immunizations for all ages.  Today, we invite parents to promote Every Child By Two’s Vaccinate Your Family program to local daycare centers through the use of specially designed educational materials.

Materials to Inspire Vaccination of Children in Daycare and their Families

In an effort to teach young children,  their parents,  grandparents, and other caregivers about the importance of immunizations, Every Child By Two (ECBT) has collaborated with Young Minds Inspired (YMI) to develop an educational program for daycare providers.  The materials don’t just focus on getting children their recommended vaccines, but also help to explain how parents, grandparents and caregivers can keep young family members healthy by keeping their own vaccinations up-to-date.

The materials were designed to be a combination of:

  • fun activities for children;
  • take-home handouts for parents, grandparents or other caregivers;
  • a wall poster for the daycare centers;
  • and an educator’s guide to raise awareness of the importance of vaccines for people of all ages.

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Read more…

Special Report on the State of the ImmUnion Sent to Congress

February 28, 2017 Leave a comment

How strong are the country’s defenses against vaccine-preventable diseases and how well are U.S. citizens protected?   What we can do to make our “ImmUnion” stronger and more resilient in the face of emerging health threats?

Every Child By Two (ECBT) has shared a special report on the State of Our Nation’s “ImmUnion” with members of congress to highlight the power of vaccines and suggest areas of action to fortify the health of our nation.  While the medical community has the ability to protect Americans of all ages from deadly infectious diseases, public health workers continue to battle disease outbreaks across the nation that threaten the health and wellbeing of our citizens.  Many Americans continue to lack access to life-saving vaccines that can protect themselves, their families and their communities from preventable diseases, while others fail to realize that vaccines are available to protect them from many different life-threatening diseases.

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This comprehensive 2017 State of the ImmUnion Report highlights the successes of vaccines, the economic and societal savings incurred from vaccines, challenges facing the public health system, and key areas we must focus on to achieve optimal protection for all Americans.

ECBT is hopeful that this report will not only help congressional leaders learn more about the vaccination rates in their home states, but that it will also help public health advocates prioritizing the benefits of immunizations in the years ahead.

ECBT is committed to working with all stakeholders to ensure this message reaches every level of state and federal government – from the local public health department, to the President of the United States. But we need your help!

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You are an important part of the equation.  Join us in helping to make sure that immunizations remain a public health priority by taking these simple steps:

1.  Support critical public health funding.

Having an adequate public health budget ensures that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the states and the territories are all prepared to:

  • respond to existing and emerging vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks,
  • conduct community outreach,
  • educate providers and the public
  • maintain immunization registries, and
  • provide vaccine services to the community.

soti-vpdcostfbThe report highlights the success of vaccines and discusses the economic and societal saving that occur as a result of a well-vaccinated population.

Unfortunately, federal vaccine appropriations have not met the levels requested in annual justification reports from the CDC, and state appropriations are nearly non-existent. This has resulted in a loss of personnel and the disbanding of several highly effective statewide coalitions which had supported immunization efforts for decades.

Additionally, if and when the Affordable Care Act is repealed, nearly $600 million in funds that currently support the CDC and state immunization activities may be eliminated. You can learn more about the critical funding issues  here, and if you want to ensure legislators reallocate these funds, take a moment to add your name to Every Child By Two’s Vaccine Funding Support Statement here

2.  Support the science behind vaccines and the CDC’s recommended immunization schedule.

The public must be continually reassured that the timing of vaccines is carefully considered prior to CDC recommendation, and that vaccine safety is heavily monitored with pre and post licensure procedures. There are many disproven myths about the safety of vaccines and we need immunization champions who are well-informed and ready to respond to concerns with evidence-based responses. This report includes specific resources that can be helpful in addressing vaccine safety and policy concerns and even provides links to state specific immunization rates.

3.  Join your local immunization coalition to see how you can work to advance the State of the ImmUnion in your local area.  

soti-measlescasesfbLearn more about the vaccination rates in your state, and the impact vaccine-preventable diseases are having there, by accessing the resources cited in the State of the ImmUnion report, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics’ interactive map and the CDC’s VaxView.  If you want to connect with other immunization advocates in  your state, simply send an email to us at info@ecbt.org and we can help connect you with your local immunization coalition.

4.  Communicate directly with your state and federal legislators to encourage them to support a strong State of the ImmUnion. 

Whether you call, email or Tweet your state and federal legislators, grab their attention by including any of the informative graphics from this special report.  Simply include a link to the PDF report of the 2017 State of the ImmUnion along with some of the images we’ve compiled in our  State of the ImmUnion social media toolkit and you’ll be helping to get the message out.  (And don’t forget to tag @ShotofPrev in your tweets so we can help amplify your message.)

vyf-ecbt-logo-rgb-copyEvery Child By Two’s Vaccinate Your Family campaign is an initiative aimed at raising awareness of the critical importance of vaccines across the lifespan.  We are encouraged by the actions of so many devoted immunization champions all across the nation, and we hope you will join our efforts to ensure a strong “State of the ImmUnion”.  Be sure to subscribe to our Shot of Prevention blog, like our Vaccinate Your Family Facebook page, and follow us on Twitter at @ShotofPrev to continue to receive updates on how you can join us as a voice for positive change!   

 

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Founded in 1991 by Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter and Former First Lady of Arkansas Betty Bumpers, Every Child By Two works to protect families and individuals from vaccine-preventable diseases by raising awareness of the critical need for timely immunizations for people of all ages, increasing the public’s understanding of the bene ts of vaccines, increasing con dence in the safety of vaccines, ensuring that all families have access to life-saving vaccines, and advocating for policies that support timely vaccination. Learn more at ecbt.org.

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Trivializing the Flu – It’s What Healthy Adults Tend To Do

September 27, 2016 47 comments

It’s not uncommon for healthy adults to skip their annual flu vaccine.  In fact, it’s estimated that only about 40% of adults receive an influenza vaccine each year – a preventive measure that the CDC recommends for everyone age 6 months of age and older, with rare exception.

While adults tend to understand that the flu can be dangerous and sometimes even deadly, they often don’t get vaccinated because they just don’t consider themselves at risk.

Why? 

I imagine it’s because we’re living in a time when modern medicine is so advanced.  The average American just doesn’t consider it likely that a healthy adult could die from something so common as the flu? One would imagine that those at greatest risk of death from flu would be young children, the elderly or people who have underlying health conditions, right?

ceciliaheadshot-250x378While it is true that there are certain demographics of people who may be more likely to suffer severe consequences from flu, it does not mean that a healthy adult is not also at risk of hospitalization or death. As Michael Pulgini explains, the flu is “aggressive, sneaky, and potentially deadly” and “no one is invincible” just because you are young, strong, or healthy.

You see, Michael is one of those healthy adults who refused the flu shot last season, citing that he felt it wasn’t necessary and suspecting it might make him sick.  Michael ended up contracting the flu, but recovered after about five days of body aches, fever, runny nose and cough.

But what continues to haunt Michael today is the fact that his wife also fell victim to the flu – but sadly, she never recovered.  

Michael now lives with the horrifying memory of watching his beautiful wife Cecilia suffer and die from the very disease that he had previously trivialized.

After Michael had recovered, Cecilia started to show signs of illness, such as runny nose, body aches and pains, and a weird symptom that caused her upper lip to swell.  She made several visits to the doctor, and the last visit occurred about eight or nine days after her first symptoms appeared.  This time, she was complaining of shortness of breath.  The doctor gave her an injection to help open up her airways, but within 30 hours Cecilia was in terrible distress and her breathing was very rapid and shallow.  A chest x-ray at the hospital showed one lung was completely covered in puss and fluid from an infection.

cecilialipDoctors explained that the influenza virus continued to replicate, hitting Cecilia full force and completely overpowering her body’s ability to fight off the infection.

They also told Michael something he will never forget;

If she had been vaccinated against influenza, there was a 90% chance she wouldn’t be here [in the hospital] like this.”

Sadly, Cecilia was put into a medically induced coma.  They intubated her and put her on a ventilator since she was unable to breathe on her own. All the while, Michael believed in his heart that she would pull through because she was young and strong.

But Michael was wrong.  He explains,

Read more…

One Mother’s Mission to Save Lives And Prevent Meningococcal Disease

July 25, 2016 1 comment

imagesAfter losing her son Evan to meningococcal disease, Lynn Bozof’s life became a mission to prevent other families from experiencing similar tragedies. She has since co-founded the National Meningitis Association (NMA), to help educate people about the dangers of meningococcal disease. In this special State of the ImmUnion post, Lynn addresses some of the most common questions parents have asked her about meningococcal disease and the ways it can be prevented.  

How would you describe the current “State of the ImmUnion” for meningococcal disease? How many cases of meningococcal disease are there in a typical year?  Are enough people protected?

In the 14 years since NMA was founded, vaccination rates have climbed steadily while disease incidence has declined. Although we are pleased with this progress, there is much more work to be done to strengthen the State of the ImmUnion.

Annually, there are approximately 800-1200 cases of meningococcal disease in the United States. As an organization comprised of survivors and families who have lost children to this devastating disease, we at NMA know that one case is too many.

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) routinely recommends meningococcal vaccines beginning at age 11-12, one in five U.S. teens are not vaccinated as recommended and one-third of those who get the first dose don’t go on to get their booster dose. This leaves adolescents unprotected as they enter some of their most vulnerable years.

What can parents do to protect their families from meningococcal disease?

Evan_BozofAs a parent who lost my college-age son, Evan, to meningococcal disease, I urge all parents to make sure their child is vaccinated. Vaccination offers the best protection against this disease, and parents should understand that to be fully vaccinated against meningococcal disease, your child should receive two kinds of meningococcal vaccines.

There are five major serogroups of meningococcal disease: A, C, W, Y and B.

MenACWY Vaccine:  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends meningococcal vaccination against serogroups A, C, W and Y for all children at 11-12, with a booster at age 16.

MenB Vaccine: After the FDA approved this vaccine in 2014, the CDC made a permissive recommendation for children ages 16-23, with a preferred age of 16 to 18 years.

Because it behaves somewhat differently, the B serogroup was not included in the ACWY vaccine, and it took longer for scientists to design an effective vaccine.

Today, nearly half (43 percent) of all meningococcal disease cases among U.S. teens and young adults are caused by serogroup B. Since MenB is a relatively new vaccine, and not routinely recommended, many parents and healthcare professionals remain unaware of this vaccine. This is particularly concerning since it’s the most common cause of meningococcal disease in adolescents and the cause of several outbreaks on college campuses in recent years. This is why we urge parents to have a conversation with your child’s doctor to ensure your child is fully vaccinated.

My doctor never mentioned a separate vaccine for serogroup B?  Why is that?

While the MenACWY vaccine has been routinely recommended since 2005, the MenB vaccine received FDA approval in 2014. That is not to say this is a “new” vaccine. The MenB vaccine has been used in other countries for many years already, and safety and efficacy data from these countries has been extensively reviewed by the CDC’s Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (ACIP). After FDA approval in the U.S., the Committee gave this vaccine a permissive or “category B” recommendation. Unlike a routine recommendation, this recommendation puts more responsibility on parents to request the vaccine, which is why it is important to be proactive and ask your doctor about it.

Are there certain people who should be particularly concerned about meningococcal disease?  How easily does it spread?

Vaccines are recommended for adolescents and young adults because they are at higher risk of contracting meningococcal disease.

The following factors increase the risk of disease: being an adolescent or young adult, spending time in large crowds like parties or dorms, and participating in behaviors like kissing or sharing drinks. But, anyone at any age can contract it.

Other people who are at higher risk for the disease include:

  • Infants under 1 year of age
  • People living in crowded settings like college dorms or military barracks
  • People living with HIV
  • Those with persistent complement component deficiency or anatomic or functional asplenia
  • People traveling to certain areas outside the U.S. such as the meningitis belt in Africa
  • Laboratory personnel who are routinely exposed to meningococcal bacteria
  • Those who might have been exposed to meningococcal disease during an outbreak

Meningococcal disease is contagious. It is spread through the exchange of respiratory secretions during close contact such as kissing, sharing drinks or coughing on someone. Although meningococcal bacteria are very dangerous, they cannot live outside the body for very long. This means the infection is not as easily spread as a cold virus. About one in ten people carry meningococcal bacteria in their nose or throat without showing any signs or symptoms of the disease. These people can unknowingly transmit the bacteria to others.

Of those who contract the disease, 1 in 10 will die and 2 in 10 will suffer from long term complications, including deafness, brain damage, or limb amputations.

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My child was required to get a meningitis vaccine before middle school. Is she still protected or does she need a booster?  If so, when should she get one?

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Is Science Bullsh*t?

It’s a good question.  So often we hear scientific claims about everything from the health benefits of coffee, eggs and wine, to the cancer causing effects of coffee, eggs and wine.   The point is that not all studies are good ones and the media tends to oversimplify scientific findings in an effort to create catchy headlines and viral content.

As John Oliver explains in his latest episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, there is a seemingly endless barrage of data being thrown at the public and plenty of BS masquerading as science.  In his latest entertaining and informative segment on scientific studies, the satirical commentator made some critical points.

 

 

There have been several articles which have reviewed Oliver’s comments, including “How To Spot A Scientific Study That Isn’t Terrible” by UproxxJohn Oliver teaches us how to interpret medical and scientific studies at Respectful Insolence and “John Oliver explains why so much ‘science’ you read about is bogus” in the Speaking of Science section of The Washington Post.  This last article detailed four notable points Oliver raised.

1. A single study means basically nothing.

For science to point us in the direction of truth, scientific claims should be supported by duplicate evidence.  This has been one of the many reasons Andrew Wakefield’s claims that vaccines cause autism  have been dismissed by the scientific community.  His single study was unable to be duplicated.  Meanwhile, dozens of other studies conducted around the world have indicated that there is no connection between vaccines and autism.

2. Statistics can be very misleading.  They can even lie.

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