Tag: advocacy

Parents Who Regret Not Vaccinating Their Kids

My uncle got polio just before the vaccine was developed. He was hospitalized for six months, almost didn't survive, and lived with atrophied muscles in one of his legs.
My uncle got polio just before the vaccine was developed. He was hospitalized for six months, almost didn’t survive, and lived with atrophied muscles in one of his legs.

A rather strange anti-vaccine argument you might sometimes hear is that you can’t unvaccinate your kids (even though they push detox plans that say they do exactly that), so go ahead and wait to vaccinate them until you have “done your research” and are sure.

The problem with that argument, like most others that anti-vaccine folks use to justify their decisions to skip or delay vaccines, is that you can wait too long.

“In 1736 I lost one of my sons, a fine boy of four years old, by the smallpox taken in the common way. I long regretted bitterly and still regret that I had not given it to him by inoculation. This I mention for the sake of the parents who omit that operation, on the supposition that they should never forgive themselves if a child died under it; my example showing that the regret may be the same either way, and that, therefore, the safer should be chosen.”

Benjamin Franklin Autobiography

Tragically, Ben Franklin wasn’t the last parent to regret not vaccinating his child.

More Parents Who Regret Not Vaccinating Their Kids

Roald Dahl, who famously wrote Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, is less well known for having a daughter who died of measles. It was just before the measles vaccine came out, so he didn’t regret not vaccinating her, but in urging other parents to protect their children, he did seem to regret that a vaccine wasn’t yet available.

For many other parents, a vaccine was available that could have kept their kids from getting sick.

“In 1989, the Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccine was relatively new and not yet routine. I was aware of the vaccine’s availability, but, busy mom that I was, I had not yet made the trip to the health department to get the immunization for my two-year-old daughter, Sarah. I will always regret that bit of procrastination and the anguish that it caused.”

Peggy Archer

Some of them have shared their personal stories, including the parents of:

  • Abby Peterson‘s “pediatrician steered her away from vaccinating her daughter” against chickenpox and her mother, Duffy Peterson, now says that “she wishes she had questioned the doctor’s recommendations more forcefully.” Abby died of a chicken pox infection.
  • Emily Lastinger who was unvaccinated and died of flu.
  • After all seven of her unvaccinated kids caught whooping cough, this parent regretted not having them vaccinated.
  • Claire Noelle Bakke who got pertussis when she was five weeks old
  • Scarlet Anne Taylor who died of the flu during the 2014-15 flu season
  • this unvaccinated three year old who spent six days in the hospital (part of it in a slight coma, during which they weren’t sure he would survive) with Haemophilus influenzae type b epiglottitis
  • Abigail who was unvaccinated and died of invasive pneumococcal disease
  • these two unvaccinated kids who developed severe dehydration from rotavirus infections
  • Sarah who was unvaccinated and developed a croupy cough when she was two-years-old and ended up on a ventilator with Haemophilus influenzae type b epiglottitis
  • Ashley who died from the flu and had never gotten a flu shot
  • Evan who died of a vaccine-preventable disease because his mom was not told about the vaccine that could have prevented it

There is another group of parents who have regrets about vaccines. Those parents whose kids can’t be vaccinated (too young to be vaccinated, have cancer, or have another medical exemption, etc.) are put at risk and exposed to vaccine-preventable diseases by intentionally unvaccinated kids. These parents typically regret that those around them don’t get vaccinated and protected.

Your decision to get educated and vaccinate your family shouldn’t be based on fear or concerns of regret if you delay or skip any vaccines, but these types of personal stories are important to review, especially if you also hear, watch, or read any stories about vaccine injuries.

What To Know About Regretting Not Vaccinating Your Kids

Delaying or skipping one or more vaccines isn’t safer or healthier, it just puts your child at increased of catching the vaccine-preventable diseases the vaccines protect you against and might lead to feelings of regret if you wait too long.

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Vaccine Education for Pediatric Offices

Pediarix, Hib, Prevnar, and Rota vaccines have been prepared for an infant at her well child visit.
Pediarix, Hib, Prevnar, and RotaTeq vaccines have been prepared for an infant at her well child visit. Photo by Vincent Iannelli, MD

Why get educated about vaccines if you work in a pediatric office?

In addition to learning how to give vaccines properly, it can help you answer any questions parents might have and help them understand that vaccines are safe, vaccines work, and vaccines are necessary to protect our kids.

Who needs to get educated about vaccines?

Everyone of course. While it’s great if all of the medical assistants and nurses have done their research about vaccines, you will have missed opportunities to get kids vaccinated and protected if the folks making appointments aren’t.

Learning the Immunization Schedule

How do you know when to give a particular vaccine to an infant, child, or older teen when they come to the office, besides the fact that someone else ordered it or the school says they need it?

You can learn the rules of the immunization schedule.

There is more to it than just looking a child’s age and seeing which vaccines they are due for though.

Has the child missed any vaccines, which means you might need to use the catch-up immunization rules?

Do they have any contraindications or reasons to not get a vaccine today?

“There is no ‘alternative’ immunization schedule. Delaying vaccines only leaves a chil​d at risk of disease for a longer period of time; it does not make vaccinating safer.

Vaccines work, plain and simple. Vaccines are one of the safest, most effective and most important medical innovations of our time. Pediatricians partner with parents to provide what is best for their child, and what is best is for children to be fully vaccinated.”

Karen Remley, MD, Executive Director, American Academy of Pediatrics​

Does the child have any high risk conditions, which mean they might need an early or extra vaccine?

In addition to reviewing the latest immunization schedules, studying a summary of recommendations for child and teen immunizations can help you quickly learn when kids need vaccines.

Giving Vaccines Safely

Once you know when it’s time to give the right vaccine to the right child at the right time, you want to make sure that you are giving it to them properly.

You also want to make sure staff knows how to reduce pain associated with giving shots, keeps thorough records, and disposes of needles and syringes properly.

Storing Vaccines Safely

Vaccines must be stored properly.

For example, while some vaccines must be refrigerated, others must be frozen.

What happens if vaccines aren’t stored at the proper temperature?

If a vaccine gets too warm or too cold, it can lose some of its potency and it probably won’t work well. That can mean vaccinated kids don’t get the immunity you expect and are left unprotected to one or more vaccine-preventable diseases. Hopefully, the office discovers the problem before any kids have gotten the vaccine though and they are just left throwing out some unusable vaccines.

The California VFC Program offers
The California VFC Program offers “Do Not UnPlug” signs so that vaccines don’t get ruined.

Fortunately, there are plenty of resources to help office staff get trained about:

  • appropriate vaccine refrigerators and freezers
  • monitoring vaccine temperature with a digital data logger and certified calibrated buffered thermometer probe
  • vaccine temperature best practices
  • keeping a vaccine inventory log
  • handling vaccine deliveries
  • having a plan for refrigerator failure
  • having a plan for power failure and disasters
  • avoiding preventable errors

Does your office have a plan to keep their vaccines at a safe temperature? What about if the power goes out? Will they still be safe?

Other Vaccine Issues

Anyone who administers vaccines to kids should also know:

  • that they need to provide a copy of the latest Vaccine Information Statement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to the child’s parent or guardian before giving each vaccine
  • the answers to common questions that parents ask about vaccines
  • to explain common and more rare side effects that parents might be possible after vaccines, so that they aren’t surprised
  • how to report possible adverse reactions to VAERS
  • how to report a vaccine error to VERP
  • that children, especially teens, should be observed for 15 minutes after they are vaccinated to make sure they don’t develop syncope (fainting)
  • strategies to improve your office’s immunization rates
  • how to counter the bad advice Dr. Sears and the use of an alternative or non-standard, parent-selected, delayed protection vaccine schedule
  • the most common vaccine errors, so you can better avoid them

It is also important for all staff to know their office’s vaccine policy. Does your office have one?

What To Know About Vaccine Education for Pediatric Offices

Vaccines are safe, necessary, and still needed to protect all of our kids from vaccine-preventable diseases. Help make sure everyone in your office is educated about the latest immunization schedule and understands how to give and store vaccines safely.

More on Vaccine Education for Pediatric Offices

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50 Ways to Get Educated About Vaccines

A Board of Health quarantine poster warning that the premises are contaminated by smallpox.
Have you ever seen a quarantine sign for smallpox on someone’s home? That’s because Vaccines Work!

Have questions about vaccines and vaccine-preventable diseases?

Think you have done enough research already?

If that research has you asking for package inserts and requesting low aluminum vaccines, then you might need to rethink how you have been doing your research.

Get Educated About Vaccines

Vaccines are safe, effective, and necessary.

They aren’t full of toxins.

They have been tested together.

Pediatricians do know a lot about vaccines. What they may not know is how to counter every anti-vaccine argument that you might have heard of, read about, or with which one of your family members is scaring you.

“Pediatricians who routinely recommend limiting the numbers of vaccines administered at a single visit such that vaccines are administered late are providing care that deviates from the standard evidence-based schedule recommended by these bodies.”

American Academy of Pediatrics

You can rest assured that these arguments have all been debunked, often many years ago, but they keep coming up, over and over again. In fact, today’s anti-vaccine movement uses many of the same themes as folks used when the first vaccines were introduced over one hundred years ago.

50 Ways To Get Educated About Vaccines

So before deciding to skip or delay any of your child’s vaccines, do some real research about vaccines and vaccine-preventable diseases and:

  1. Understand the Pseudoscience Behind the Anti-Vaccine Movement
  2. Review the contraindications to vaccines and even more common, the things commonly misperceived as contraindications
  3. Examine the evidence for the safety of vaccines
  4. Get answers to the 9 Questions For The Pro-Vaxers
  5. Know that Vaccines Do Not Cause Autism
  6. Read about these Five Things I’ve Learned About Vaccines Through 21 Years of Parenting
  7. Learn the Tactics and Tropes of the Anti-vaccine Movement
  8. Know that kids do not get too many vaccines too soon and that vaccines don’t overwhelm your child’s immune system
  9. Understand these Vaccine Safety Basics
  10. Don’t listen to these anti-vaccine celebrities
  11. Get the details of Andrew Wakefield’s fraud
  12. Study why those Graphs That Show Vaccines Don’t Work are just propaganda
  13. Know that you can’t hide your kids in the herd to avoid disease
  14. Read why “Spacing Out” Vaccines Doesn’t Make Them Safer
  15. Wonder why parents misuse religious exemptions to excuse kids from vaccines
  16. See the evidence that Flu Shots Work for Kids Under Two
  17. Review these questions and answers on immunization and vaccine safety
  18. Learn Why My Child With Autism Is Fully Vaccinated
  19. Know that You Can Be the Pro-Life Parent of a Fully Vaccinated Child
  20. See how Having a baby doesn’t change the facts on vaccines
  21. Question Vaccine Injury Stories: the Sacred Cows of the Internet
  22. Read An Open Letter to Expecting Parents and Parents Yet-To-Be about Vaccinating
  23. Know that there is No Clear Evidence that Vaccines Cause Autism
  24. Learn from those who have Left the Anti-Vaccine Movement
  25. Understand why you’re wrong if you think the flu vax gives you the flu
  26. Avoid Cashing In On Fear: The Danger of Dr. Sears
  27. Realize that Almost All Religions Support Immunizations
  28. Learn which vaccines are the most important to get
  29. See that Unvaccinated Children Can Have Autism Too
  30. View Personal Stories of Families Affected by Vaccine-Preventable Diseases
  31. Know who is at risk if you don’t vaccinate your kids
  32. Read about the most common Misconceptions about Vaccines
  33. Review the Benefits vs. Risks of getting vaccinated
  34. Learn about the Ingredients in Vaccines
  35. Realize that vaccines are carefully monitored for safety, even after they have been approved, and it isn’t just by folks reporting side effects to VAERS
  36. Know that those 124 Research Papers Supporting the Vaccine/Autism Link Really Don’t
  37. Understand what Vaccine Package Inserts really do and don’t tell you
  38. See why the CDC Whistleblower really has no whistle to blow
  39. Know that the Vaccine Court did not say that vaccines cause autism
  40. What to consider if Deciding whether to alter the immunization schedule
  41. Learn why Shedding from Vaccines isn’t a danger to your kids
  42. Review even more Misconceptions about Immunizations
  43. Understand The Science Behind Vaccine Research and Testing
  44. Know that your Unvaccinated Child isn’t going to be Healthier than Vaccinated Kids
  45. Realize just how important the HPV vaccine really is
  46. Learn How to Respond to Inaccurate Posts about Vaccines on Social Media
  47. Know that vaccines are studied in pregnant women
  48. See the real dangers in following Jenny McCarthy’s advice
  49. Know that VAERS reports are often misused and understand that parents can report suspected adverse events to VAERS themselves
  50. Fill out a screening questionnaire for contraindications to vaccines

Still have questions? Read one or more of these Vaccine Books

And talk to your doctor about your concerns about vaccines.

Get Educated. Get Vaccinated.

More Ways To Get Educated About Vaccines

These websites and blogs will also help you get educated about vaccines and research any addition questions you might have:

US Presidents and Vaccines

You would think that getting kids vaccinated and protected against vaccine-preventable diseases would be a non-partisan issue, but it unfortunately isn’t always the case.

donald-trump

Even before Donald Trump brought up false claims that vaccines cause autism, we have seen what can happen when funding for vaccines dropped. Federal support for vaccines dropped while Reagan was in office and we quickly saw outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases, including many deaths.

Fortunately, most American Presidents have strongly supported vaccines.

There is no longer any reason why American children should suffer from polio, diphtheria, whooping cough, or tetanus. … I am asking the American people to join in a nationwide vaccination program to stamp out these four diseases.

JFK in 1962

  • George Washington – had smallpox and later mandated that every soldier in the Continental Army had to be inoculated against smallpox
  • John Adams – was innoculated against smallpox (before Jenner‘s vaccine was available), as were his wife and children
  • Thomas Jefferson – conducted his own smallpox vaccine trials
  • James Madison – signed the Vaccine Act of 1813 – An Act to encourage Vaccination.
  • James K Polk – died of cholera, a now vaccine-preventable disease, three months after his term ended
  • Zachary Taylor – died of cholera while still in office
  • Abraham Lincoln – developed smallpox while he was in office
  • Franklin D Roosevelt – had polio and founded the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, which was later renamed the March of Dimes, and helped fund Jonas Salk‘s research on the first polio vaccine
  • Harry S Truman – had diphtheria as a child, which may have left him with vision problems, and was vaccinated against smallpox
  • Dwight D Eisenhower – signed the Polio Vaccination Assistance Act in 1955, which gave $30 million in federal grants to states to cover the costs of planning and conducting polio vaccination programs, including purchasing polio vaccine
  • John F Kennedy – signed the Vaccination Assistance Act in 1962 (Section 317 of the Public Health Service Act), which started as a three year program to help get kids vaccinated against polio, diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis, but it has been continuously reauthorized ever since
  • Lyndon B Johnson – established a legacy of US leadership in global immunization by funding the CDC Smallpox Eradication program in 1965 (smallpox wasn’t eradicated until 1980)
  • Richard Nixon – observed that scientists who helped develop the polio vaccine with Jonas Salk “deserve far greater respect and support by the people whom they serve than they now receive.”
  • Gerald Ford – instituted a swine flu vaccination program for an outbreak that never appeared
  • Jimmy Carter – his National Childhood Immunization Initiative in 1977 reached its goal of immunizing 90% of children
  • Ronald Reagan – signed the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act (NCVIA) of 1986, which created VAERS and the NVICP, while federal support for vaccine programs reached a low point in his years in office, as rates of children living in poverty and without health insurance increased
  • George HW Bush – his immunization action plan in 1991 once again raised immunization rates following three years of measles outbreaks
  • Bill Clinton – his Childhood Immunization Initiative in 1993 which included signing the Vaccines for Children (VFC) Act, provided free vaccines to many children
  • George W Bush – announced a major smallpox vaccination program in 2002, but very few healthcare workers actually volunteered to get vaccinated
  • Barack Obama – declared the 2009 H1N1 swine flu outbreak a national emergency, Obamacare requires health insurance plans to pay for vaccines without co-pays, made the Ebola outbreak a national security priority, and helped keep funding for Zika vaccine research going

What can we expect our next President to do about vaccines and vaccination rates?

For More Information on US Presidents and Vaccines:

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Paul Offit

Paul Offit, MD, FAAP is a pediatrician and infectious disease specialist, completing his training at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

If people choose not to get vaccinated it’s because they’re not scared of the disease, and they have false concerns about what the vaccine can do.

Paul Offit, MD

His abbreviated resume is 34 pages long…

Paul Offit's books will help you do real research about vaccines.
Paul Offit’s books will help you do real research about vaccines.

In addition to being the co-inventor of RotaTeq, one of two rotavirus vaccines in use today, Dr. Offit is the director of the Vaccine Education Center and a professor of pediatrics in the Division of Infectious Diseases at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the Maurice R. Hilleman Professor of Vaccinology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

Even more importantly, whether it was his appearances on The Daily Show or The Colbert Report and other places in the media, his free vaccine course, or the 150 papers he has published in medical and scientific journals, Dr. Offit has been a leading force in educating pediatricians and parents about the importance and safety of vaccines

His books and articles are essential reading, especially for health care providers and parents who might be thinking about skipping or delaying one or more vaccines. They include:

  • Autism’s False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure
  • Deadly Choices: How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All
  • Vaccines and Your Child: Separating Fact from Fiction
  • Do You Believe in Magic?: The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine
  • Bad Faith: When Religious Belief Undermines Modern Medicine
  • Vaccinated: One Man’s Quest to Defeat the World’s Deadliest Diseases
  • The Cutter Incident: How America’s First Polio Vaccine Led to Today’s Growing Vaccine Crisis

Not surprisingly, he is a frequent target of anti-vaccine groups.

It also shouldn’t be surprising that all of their attacks are very easily debunked.

For More Information on Paul Offit:

Who is Tom Frieden?

CDC Director Tom Frieden in West Africa during the Ebola epidemic.
CDC Director Tom Frieden in West Africa during the Ebola epidemic.

Thomas Frieden, MD, MPH has had a long career in public health, working as Commissioner of the New York City Health Department and most recently as the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr Frieden went to Oberlin College, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and did his residency in internal medicine at Yale University.

The field of public health aims to improve the health of as many people as possible as rapidly as possible.

A responsive government can maintain that people are responsible for their own health while also taking public health action that changes default choices to make it easier for people to stay healthy.

Dr. Frieden on The Future of Public Health

During his career, he:

  • worked to reduce rates of cases of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis by 80 percent in New York City
  • assisted the national tuberculosis control program in India
  • directed efforts to reduce smoking, including teen smoking, in New York City
  • led the response to the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic in the US
  • has pushed for more funding to help control and treat Zika, which he says will likely “become endemic in this hemisphere”

Perhaps most importantly, and despite some criticism, Dr. Frieden led the CDC during the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. An epidemic that spread to the US and other countries and for which the “CDC has undertaken the most intensive outbreak response in the agency’s history.”

Recently, he has also highlighted “two shortcomings of our health system,” that the upward trend in life expectancy that we have seen over the past 50 years (about 9 years), “is neither as  rapid  as  it  should  be  —  we  lag  behind  dozens  of  other  nations – nor is it uniformly experienced by people in the United States.” And that is because “life  expectancy  and  other  key health outcomes vary greatly by race, sex, socioeconomic status, and geographic location.”

And after working to eliminate trans fats from restaurants in New York City and have chain restaurants post calorie information on their menu boards, he has continued to confront many of the more modern era epidemics, like obesity, hypertension, and diabetes.

He resigned from the CDC on January 20, 2017 and was replaced by Anne Schuchat, MD, who became the  became Acting Director.

For More Information on Thomas Frieden

Updated January 22, 2017

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Celebrities Who Advocate For Vaccines

Some of the first celebrities to advocate for vaccines did so to help combat polio.

lucy-desi-polio
In 1954, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz asked everyone to “give every dime and dollar” they could spare to fight polio.

From Grace Kelly to Elvis and Marilyn Monroe, stars lined up to support the efforts of the March of Dimes to end polio, with celebrity comedian Eddie Cantor leading the way.

Joan Crawford, Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Red Skelton, Johnny Cash, Jack Benny, Bing Crosby, and many others were a part of the Polio Crusade.

Before that though, there were celebrities that were working to fight smallpox. Celebrities of the time like Lewis Carroll, who is best known for writing Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass.

There are, not surprisingly, many pro-vaccine celebrities now too.

  • Kristen Bell
  • Ewan McGregor
  • John Oliver
  • Jennifer Garner
  • Olivia Wilde
  • Amada Peet
  • Lenny Kravitz
  • David Beckham
  • Keri Russel
  • Julie Bowen
  • Serena Williams
  • Salma Hayek
  • Christy Turlington Burns
  • Kim Kardashian
  • Jennifer Lopez
  • Kristi Yamaguchi
  • Marc Anthony
  • Sarah Michelle Gellar
  • Kendra Wilkinson
  • Marissa Jaret Winokur

And like Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz in the 1950s, many are working with organizations to help fight vaccine-preventable diseases and protect children.

Many, like Ewan McGregor and Salma Hayek, work with UNICEF.

Others promote flu vaccines, combat pertussis, or simply fight the anti-vaccine misinformation that is that out there.

For More Information On Celebrities Who Advocate For Vaccines: