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.
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!
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.
The 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.
Learn 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 firstname.lastname@example.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.)
Every 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!
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.
I woke up this morning, admittedly cranky. I didn’t sleep well and I’ve had a lot on my mind. To add to my misery, I’ve gone a week without a dishwasher, and unfortunately the pile of dishes in the sink never seems to disappear. My biggest complaint today was that I was going to have to accept that the dishwasher part would not arrive in time for “the big day”. Therefore, I am destined to prepare an elaborate Thanksgiving meal for my family without the assitance of my go-to appliance.
I was still annoyed when I sat down at my computer and began reading my morning emails. I came across this email from a colleague. Someone who knows what it’s like to live with longing. A reliable person who has become the go-to person for many families who have suffered the loss of a child. A vaccine advocate who works tirelessly to ensure that we do everything possible to protect children from vaccine preventable diseases.
In just a few short paragraphs, she put my Thanksgiving preparations in perspective. There is plenty to be thankful for. But today I am especially thankful for all the people I’ve come to know through my work here on Shot of Prevention. I couldn’t begin to name them all, but they are the moms, dads, bloggers, healthcare professionals, scientists and public health specialists who work so hard hoping to spare others from the suffering they’ve come to know from vaccine preventable diseases.
I hope you will read this guest post from Frankie Milley and take a moment to reflect on all the blessings in your life.
‘Tis the Season, by Frankie Milley
Tis the season…. Today is my husband’s birthday. Sixty one of them he has had now. We were married 38 years ago and thought, by this time, we would have some beautiful grandchildren and they would be here with us, along with our precious son Ryan and his wife, to celebrate this day, and Thanksgiving, and Christmas. However, vaccine preventable meningococcal meningitis took that away from us.
I started this day off like every other reading about meningitis around the world. I leave my comments on various articles and hope that if one person reads them and becomes educated, then one life might be saved or spared. They may not come to know the tragedy of this nightmare I am living.
Today my heart is breaking. Read more…
Every Easter season I imagine how devastating it would be to watch your child suffer and die. While I sat in church yesterday, blessed to be among my family and thankful to the Lord for sacrificing his only son, I couldn’t help but admire a young couple sitting in front of me with a tiny baby boy. He couldn’t have been more than a few weeks old, nestling into his mother’s chest and grinning in his sleep. He was absolutely precious, as every new life is.
As I sat admiring this baby, I couldn’t keep my mind from wondering what would become of this child. I began to think about my experiences with Shot of Prevention over the past year and I prayed he would remain safe and healthy.
The truth is, before I began immersing myself in the world of immunization advocacy, I thought that most of the diseases we immunized against were non-existent thanks to the success of vaccines. I didn’t really think these diseases were still claiming the lives of children, and I only knew one person who had died from a vaccine preventable disease, and it wasn’t a child.
Sadly, I didn’t really consider the risk of disease among children too young to be vaccinated. I didn’t realize that there are people who can’t be vaccinated. And I didn’t fully understand the impact of those who choose not to vaccinate. What’s even worse is that I didn’t know how many people still suffer and die from vaccine preventable diseases.
Day by day, as I continue to learn more about the benefits of immunizations, I also hear more heart-wrenching stories about children – born happy and healthy, like the child I admired in church – who have suffered or died from vaccine preventable diseases. These real-life stories, told by survivors, family members, friends and even health care providers, have the power to touch us, educate us and move us toward action.
Now, thanks to ShotbyShot.org, there is a unique storybank of videos and written accounts from people who have been touched by vaccine-preventable diseases. From whooping cough, to meningitis, to the chicken pox and the flu, these stories remind us that vaccine preventable diseases are still impacting people in our own communities and causing a huge amount of suffering and death.
Today, in honor of National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW), we are launching a new feature in which we will highlight different stories as seen on Shot By Shot. You can also make an impact by sharing these stories with friends and family and encouraging them to do the same. Additionally, if you have had a personal experience with a vaccine preventable disease yourself, we urge you to consider submitting a story of your own. We don’t want others to suffer the way you may have and personal accounts are a powerful and effective way for us to educate others about the importance of prevention and the value of vaccination. For our first video feature, we have chosen to highlight one family’s story of pertussis, which not only illustrates the importance of childhood immunizations, but explains the concept of cocooning infants by keeping adults up to date with their booster shots. By spreading this message we hope to protect the gift of life, which is definitely something to be grateful for.
They say time heals all wounds. While I believe that certainly can be true, I also recognize that often, scars remain.
Last week at this time I sat in a room full of people on World Pneumonia Day, listening to Shannon Duffy Peterson recall the horrible details of her daughter’s death from a vaccine preventable disease.
I had already been familiar with the story and had even posted Shannon’s article here on Shot of Prevention. However, when I saw the pain in her eyes and heard the trembling of her voice, I was overwhelmed with compassion. Shannon attended the event with her fourth and youngest child, Amelia. Despite Amelia’s radiant smile and sparkling eyes, I knew that even holding this bundle of joy, could never heal the permanent scars that Shannon felt after loosing her first child Abigale.
What intrigued me about Shannon’s story was something she never even mentioned in her article. She alluded to it on stage last week, but it was in reading a piece from her local news that revealed the disturbing twist on this terrible loss.
Prior to her daughter falling ill, Shannon had inquired about immunizations with her pediatrician. Unfortunately, he had advised against them. Read more…