Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Kick The Flu Out Of School

     Before National Immunization Awareness Month ends and students prepare to head back to school, take advantage of this educational opportunity to make sure children in your community are protected from vaccine-preventable diseases. Nurses Who Vaccinate have once again worked together Voices for Vaccines and Families Fighting Flu to help schools to get a head start on preventing influenza. 

     During the 2013-2014 school year, 100 children died from influenza in the United States. Unimmunized children have nearly a four times greater risk of being admitted to the ICU than children who are fully immunized against influenza. Forty-five percent of the influenza illness ICU admissions were in otherwise healthy children. About 1 in 10 children admitted to the ICU with flu complications died.

     Rather than sit back and hope students get immunized against influenza, schools can get proactive in the fight against flu by turning a trip to get a flu vaccine into something fun. “Kick the Flu Out of School” is a grassroots campaign custom-made for community schools and designed to help parents and school leaders increase influenza immunization coverage in their schools. Nurses have the ability to bring this campaign into schools, by sharing the toolkit with parents, PTA and the school nurses.

     Through a school-wide contest, the “Kick the Flu Out of School” campaign generates a sense of excitement among the children and school staff by asking students to have entry forms signed when they received their flu vaccine. These entry forms then become part of a drawing or other “sweepstakes”-type of event. Prizes, pizza parties, ice cream cones or principals shaving their mustaches: schools can tailor the campaign to suit their needs and institutional personality.
Voices for Vaccines offers the “Kick the Flu Out of School” toolkit on its website (www.tinyurl.com/vaxtools). This free toolkit includes a letter home to parents, a letter template to local businesses for prize solicitation, and entry forms for students. Everything in the kit is designed to be customizable in order to allow schools to really make this their campaign.

     Nurses; let's work together to make getting flu vaccines a fun event for the students in our communities. Who knows maybe with a little effort and imagination, kids may look forward to protecting themselves from influenza- Not only because they may get a prize out of the deal but because it will keep them safe and healthy.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Send Kids Back to School with their Vaccines Up to Date

But First Come to the FREE NY Screening of Invisible Threat!

National Immunization Awareness Month is a reminder
that we all need vaccines throughout our lives.

Back-to-school season is here. It’s time for parents to gather supplies and backpacks. It’s also the perfect time to make sure kids are up to date on their vaccines.To celebrate the importance of immunizations throughout life – and make sure children are protected with all the vaccines they need – Nurses Who Vaccinate and  Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center (West Islip, NY) is joining with partners nationwide in recognizing August as National Immunization Awareness Month.

In honor of National Immunization Awareness Month, there will be a FREE New York/ Long Island Screening of the Invisible Threat Documentary. The event will take place on August 20, 2014 - 7:00pm to 9:00pm at the West Islip Fire Department, 309 Union Blvdevard, West Islip, New York, 11795. Parents, health care workers and members of the community are all invited. Guests are encouraged to bring questions. A Special Panel discussion featuring pediatric experts will immediately follow the film.

Invisible Threat is a 40 minute documentary produced by chstvFILMS, an award-winning high school broadcast journalism and documentary film program, that explores the science of vaccination and how fears and misconceptions have led some parents to not vaccinate their children according to the recommended schedule.

Interested in attending this FREE event? 
Call (631)376-4444 to register.

Getting children all of the vaccines recommended by CDC’s immunization schedule is one of the most important things parents can do to protect their children’s health – and that of classmates and the community. If parents haven’t done so already, now is the time to encourage checking to see what vaccines are needed. Most schools require children to be current on vaccinations before enrolling to protect the health of all students.

Today’s childhood vaccines protect against serious and potentially life-threatening diseases, including polio, measles, and whooping cough. When children are not vaccinated, they are at increased risk and can spread diseases to others in their classrooms and community – including babies who are too young to be fully vaccinated, and people with weakened immune systems due to cancer or other health conditions.

School-age children need vaccines. For example, children who are 4 to 6 years old are due for boosters of four vaccines: DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis), chickenpox, MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) and polio. Older children, like preteens and teens, need Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis), MenACWY (meningococcal conjugate vaccine) and HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccines when they are 11 to 12. In addition, yearly flu vaccines are recommended for all children 6 months and older.

Parents can find out more about the recommended immunization schedule at
www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/index.html.  For information about the FREE screening check out the event facebook page https://www.facebook.com/events/679138505512096/
or call GSHMC at 631-376-4444.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Nurses Save Lives by Speaking Up & Advocating for Immunizations #NIAM14

Sister Caregivers by j4p4n - A younger sister holds her older sister in a sisterly embrace. I added a pale pink to this while synthesizing it because it just felt right. I'm not sure why.     Nurses’ primary guiding principal is caring.  Caring can be manifested in many ways, most notably by advocacy for our patients.  Nurses have always operated on a wellness model, seeking to prevent disease and promote health.  Promoting immunizations is a safe and effective way to promote health.  Advocacy for immunizations is supported by the science behind vaccines.  We know that vaccines are safe and effective (DeStefano, Price & Weintraub,  2013; Klein, et. al, 2011), but unfortunately articles continue to appear written by individuals who believe in these discounted theories.  In this age of instant information word spreads especially on the internet with lightening speed.  Nurses must be vigilant in reviewing print materials, television reports, and internet postings about vaccines, and they need to speak out when discounted theories are presented.

Nurses are the most trusted profession (Robert Woods Johnson Foundation, 2014).  So when nurses speak, the public listens.  Individual nurses can do a great deal to increase public confidence in vaccines by rebutting all reports that continue to undermine public confidence in vaccines.  Sensationalism sells.  All of the children who are healthy because of safe and effective vaccines are not newsworthy, but some theory devised by an individual or organization that believes that vaccines are harmful is deemed appropriate for publication.  While we all hope that published stories and reports will support science, that does not always occur.  Reporters can insert just enough doubt in a story in order to be ‘fair and balanced’ so that the piece comes off giving credence to the anti-vaccine side.  Fair and balanced does not mean 50/50 when it comes to vaccines.  Anti-vaccine stories which are often published as pro ‘vaccine safety’ have been discredited therefore they do not deserve 50% of the space in the story.  Nurses can help to stop this biased reporting by taking every opportunity to counter misinformation with evidence-based science that supports safe and effective vaccines.  In journalism the final statements in a piece are what the public remembers.  If a piece ends on a note that plants doubt in vaccines or give the anti-vaccine advocate the last word, nurses need to contact the source of the information and let the press know that nurses are watching and that scientifically unsupported comments about vaccines are not acceptable and that nurses expect this to change.

Announcing by bitterjug - Figure walking and speaking through megaphone. Nurses also need to speak out against misinformed colleagues who do not believe in vaccines for themselves.  According to 2102 data only 77.9% of nurses received influenza immunizations themselves. While this is an improvement over the previous year, 85.6% of physicians were immunized during the same year (MMWR, 2012).  Nurses are governed by beneficence, which means we do something because it will benefit our patients.  We accept immunizations for ourselves, not just to protect ourselves but to protect our patients.   Unpublished data from a large metropolitan city clearly indicate that many hospitals are doing a dismal job of getting their nursing staff to accept influenza immunizations.  Rates for these hospitals ranged from 55-75%.  We need to engage our nursing colleagues to encourage them to accept immunizations.
Refusal of immunizations by nurses is not a personal choice.  A nurse’s personal choice does not just affect that individual nurse, but can also affect our vulnerable patients.  There is clear data that indicates that health care personnel transmit influenza to their patients (Orr, 2012).

     We also need to teach our patients to speak up!  Recently, I was a patient at a hospital known for their excellent nursing care.  The nurse who approached me wore a mask.  I asked her why she was not vaccinated and she informed me that she did not believe in influenza shots and her personal choice was to not accept vaccination.  I told the nurse that her personal choice affected me, her patient, and I had made a personal choice to be vaccinated and expected the nurse who cared for me to do the same.  I informed her that at best the mask only protected both of us for some 20 minutes.  I requested another nurse, and the new one needed to be immunized.  After some resistance on the part of the masked nurse, I was assigned to a new vaccinated nurse.  I was advocating to protect every other patient who came in contact with this nurse and not just myself.

    No other profession advocates for patients more than nurses, so let us do what we do best and stand up and speak out at every opportunity to correct all of the misinformation that is out there no matter where we find it.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2012). MMWR. Influenza Vaccination Coverage Among Health-Care Personnel — 2011–12 Influenza Season, United States
September 28, 2012 / 61(38);753-757. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6138a1.htm
DeStefano F, Price CS, Weintraub ES.  Journal of Pediatrics. (2013). Evaluation of immunization rates and safety among children with inborn errors of metabolism http://jpeds.com/webfiles/images/journals/ympd/JPEDSDeStefano.pdf
Klein N, et al., (2011). Measles-Containing Vaccines and Febrile Seizures in Children Age 4 to 6 Years. Pediatrics; 129(5): 809-14.
Orr, P. (2000). Influenza vaccination for health care workers: A duty of care. Canadian Journal of Infectious Diseases. Sep-Oct; 11(5): 225–226.
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. (2014). Nurses continue to top public trust survey. org/ewww.rwjfn/blogs/human-capital-blog/2014/01/nurses_continue_tot.html

Mary Beth Koslap-Petraco, DNP, PNP-BC, CPNP, FAANP, Member of Nurses Who Vaccinate

Dr. Mary Beth Koslap-Petraco is an assistant professor at Long Island University Post in Greenvale, NY, and a primary care provider. She is a nationally known expert in immunization practice, an advisor for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and served on the Advisory Board of the Immunization Action Coalition, and National Vaccine Advisory Committee. Dr. Koslap-Petraco is the PKIDS on line Advice Nurse and a member of the executive board of Every Child By Two.

August is National Immunization Awareness Month (#NIAM14). The purpose of this observance is to highlight the importance of immunizations, one of the top 10 public health accomplishments of the 20th
Century, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). The goals throughout the month highlight the importance of immunizations for a different population each week of the month:
• Week 1: A Healthy Start: (babies from birth to age 2 and pregnant women)
• Week 2: Back to School (children, pre-teens and teens to age18)
• Week 3: Off to the Future (young adults age 19-26)
• Week 4: Not Just for Kids: (adults age 26+)
 For more information, see: http://www.nphic.org/niam

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

When Nurses Who Vaccinate Comes Under Attack

A picture is worth a thousand words. And apparently a meme is worth hundreds of new followers, members, comments, and shares. It can also draw attention from opposing viewpoints and lead them to attack, bully and threaten the creators of memes.

Over a meme you ask? Well it was actually a graphic, that has mistakenly been referred to as a meme (but that’s a whole other discussion).

The above graphic generated a popular response on the Nurses Who Vaccinate Facebook page. With over 200 shares, it was seen by over 25,000 people according to Facebook insights. Not too shabby for a picture made at 2am in Microsoft paint.

The graphic was calling attention to an organization that has been making the rounds on the internet spreading public health misinformation and vaccine myths. With the internet as vast and unregulated as it is, patients have a hard enough time deciphering accurate sources for health information. We as nurses, should not be adding to the confusion. Nurses should be presenting evidence-based information to our patients and the public. 

The organization in mention, Nurses Against Mandatory Vaccines, sadly does exist and is not a satire joke. They claim quite often that they are not ‘anti-vaccine’ and but are ‘anti-forced vaccines.’ But, a quick look at their facebook page and website quickly shows how misinformed and untrue those statements are. They post links from conspiracy sites, such as the infamous Natural News and Mercola, claim CDC studies are part of a conspiracy and continously post misinformation about side effects from vaccines. Recently a meta-analysis reviewed 166 independent studies and confirmed what we at Nurses Who Vaccinate have been saying since 2011, vaccines are safe and effective! But, was that important study shared on any of the NAMV social media platforms? Nope. Instead, what do you find on their facebook page?

Let’s quickly discuss the difference between mandatory, compulsory and forced vaccination. Currently the only policies in place in some health institutions concerning influenza vaccines are mandatory vaccine policies. What does mandatory mean? It means that unless you have a legitimate medical exemption you are required to meet standards of vaccination. In some institutions the alternative is that you have to wear a mask from the moment you enter the workplace till the moment you leave. Some health institutions have taken a stricter approach and if an employee refuses to vaccinate the institution will terminate them. Enforcing mandatory vaccine policies is not an infringement of the employees right because while workers have a right to non-discrimination in workplace, employers have a right to instill rules for workers to abide by. An important point is that employment in the U.S., with narrow exceptions, is at will. Employers do not have to hire or retain you. They can't discriminate based on gender, race, or other protected categories, but other than that, they can pretty much hire you or not, and fire you, for any reason. And they can certainly set work safety conditions. Requiring personal protection equipment to be worn and used, proper techniques to be used and staying up-to-date with vaccines are part of those safety conditions. Compulsory vaccination is when fines or imprisonment is implemented on those who refuse vaccines. Currently there are no mandates for compulsory vaccinations, and the most popular one that the public is familiar with is the Jacobson v. Massachusetts United States Supreme Court Case that is from 1905. With regards to forced vaccination, contrary to what Nurses Against Mandatory Vaccines likes to post, no health institution, public health organization or member of Nurses Who Vaccinate advocate for forced vaccination of a healthcare worker. Forced vaccination would be a scenario where one holds down a worker and forcibly administering a vaccine, a situation that is unheard of and is only being used by NAMV to create fear in those who misunderstand the differences between mandatory and forced. There are no employers that have forced vaccinations on their workers. Mandate, yes. Forced, no.

Now that that is out of the way, back to the picture/graphic. Nurses Who Vaccinate stands by the message in the graphic. Nurses Against Mandatory Vaccines is an anti-vaccine, anti-science organization that promotes vaccine misinformation. It is disdainful to see the nursing profession misrepresented by these individuals who reject the need for vaccines and deny the scientific evidence that vaccines are safe and effective. However, we here at Nurses Who Vaccinate are proponents of education and I personally know how convincing that misinformation can be. I was once misled by the anti-vaccine websites and came quite close to basing my medical decisions on it. We highly encourage the members of NAMV to use better sources for their stances, and take additional classes and courses to expand their limited knowledge on this topic.
Immunization Courses: Broadcasts, Webcasts, and Self Study
Current Issues in Immunization NetConference (CIINC) http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/ed/ciinc/default.htm

Nurses Who Vaccinate is not interested in ‘attacking’ another nursing page. We have more important matters that take up our time and interests. For example, the fact that every 20 seconds a child is dying from a vaccine preventable disease. Or that here in the US, we have concerning pertussis and measles outbreaks popping up in communities with low immunization rates. In spite of these clear threats to our communities and our patients, NAMV chooses to focus on the imaginary threat of our little picture, and even to the point of suggesting legal action against us.

Perhaps a quick rundown of the definition of fair use would be handy... Section 107 of the Copyright Act states:
"..the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.
In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include—the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
the nature of the copyrighted work; the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work." Source: 17 USC Section 107.

Looking for more information, here’s a convenient crash course! We are blatantly criticizing and commenting on the status of the NAMV organization. It’s quite obvious and many of our members and supporters recognize that. And we thank you. Especially when we have organizations looking to bully and intimidate us when we call them out on dangerous behavior. When NAMV does little to discourage their followers from harassing and posting inflammatory posts and comments about our members and pro-science healthcare workers, it's easy to see what type of organization they are. It seems that while they claim to be under attack, they're to ones leading the efforts.

In the meantime, we’ve jump started our IndieGoGo campaign to become an official not-for-profit organization. Where will the donated funds go? Well, we have big plans. We’re currently working with a non-profit clinic here in New York to apply for our 501(3)(c). We’re looking to create a FREE nursing educational database for our members and supporters to use when researching public health information. We have plans to create a mobile device app specifically for nurses to help educate patient about vaccines, schedules and vaccine-preventable diseases. And there are many other projects we’re looking into. Intrigued? Want to get more involved? Send us an email at NursesWhoVaccinate@gmail.com and let us know what you would like to be involved with or if you have an idea for a project! And if push comes to shove and if NAMV follow on through with their bullying tactics, than funds will go towards protecting the Nurses Who Vaccinate organization and our members. Hopefully, it doesn’t come to that and we can use the supporting funds towards more important issues. Like saving lives.

Nurses Who Vaccinate are nurses who care about themselves, patients and communities.
Are you a pro-science nurse? Supporter of evidence-based nurses?
Become a member-http://www.nurseswhovaccinate.org/become-a-member-.html

Friday, May 16, 2014

Crossing the Border... to Save Lives

We’re going over the border for meningococcal disease protection . . . and in honor of our daughters.

As you may know, the United States does not currently offer protection from meningococcal disease serogroup B.  Serogroup B is responsible for the recent outbreaks at Princeton University and The University of California, Santa Barbara. Bexsero, a meningitis B vaccine, was approved in 2013 in Europe, Australia and Canada. The FDA allowed Bexsero on an “Investigational New Drug Application” in an effort to control the outbreaks at these two U.S. universities.  I applaud their action, but what about the rest of the United States citizens?

A fellow mother and friend, Alicia Stillman from Michigan, who also lost her teenage daughter to meningococcal disease serogroup B, has started the Emily Stillman Foundation in loving memory of her 19-year-old daughter, Emily Stillman.

The Emily Stillman Foundation has organized the “Get Vaccinated Windsor Project” which will be taking place this Sunday May 18, 2014.  A bus will transport 50 U.S. participants (children and adults) from Michigan to Ontario, Canada in order to be protected from Meningitis B.  A Canadian doctor and his staff will administer the vaccine in Windsor after performing an exam and a full medical history on all participants.

For more information on the trip please see NBC's article.

The vaccines Menactra, Menomume, and Menveo protect against the A,C,W, and Y serogroups in the U.S.  Both of our daughters were vaccinated with Menactra, but unfortunately, this offered no protection from Meningitis B.

While the two girls were fully immunized according to the current vaccine recommendations, many others are not up-to-date, with the other meningitis vaccines available. According to a recent study shared in the Wall Street Journal, "Two in three mothers are not aware of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations to prevent meningococcal meningitis infection, which include vaccinating children twice."

As National Meningitis Associations members, these mothers are committed to sharing their child's story so that other families have an opportunity to make informed decisions about immunization. They also want to help others gain a better understanding of the signs and symptoms of meningococcal disease and its potential consequences, in accordance with the NMA mission. NMA’s volunteers help carry out our mission by creating and conducting community awareness and education programs, including presentations, media outreach and other activities that reach families, students, community leaders and public health officials.

Instead of celebrating my daughter’s prom and high school graduation in 2012, I planned her funeral three days before she was to graduate from high school and buried her in her beautiful prom dress.  Kimberly Coffey was 17 years old and was to start the Nursing Program at a local college in New York to pursue her dream of being a pediatric nurse.

Patti Wukovits, RN, Nurses Who Vaccinate Member

Patti Wukovits has been a nurse for 8 years. She is a certified oncology nurse and a M.O.M. (Mom on Meningitis) with the National Meningitis Association.  Married with 4 children (one son, angel daughter Kim, a stepson and a stepdaughter).  Her mission is to spread awareness of meningococcal disease - to be the voice for her daughter Kim.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy International Nurses Day!

On Monday, May 12, a free webinar on the role of nurses in vaccination decision-making will be held in Paris to mark International Nurses DayThe line-up of speakers includes experts from the Nurse Practitioner Healthcare Foundation in the US; the Mother & Baby Clinic Group in South Africa; and Melody Butler of Nurses Who Vaccinate from the US

The International Council of Nurses in collaboration with Connecting Nurses is hosting a FREE live Webcast on Monday, May 12th at 9:30 AM CET (3am EDT) to talk about the “Nurses’ key role in prevention, education, and therapy."

A second Live Webcast will start at 3:00 PM (CET  9am EDT) about “The key role of nurses in vaccination decision-making."  Nurses Who Vaccinate founder, Melody Butler, is a keynote speaker in the second presentation, and will be discussing the organization she initiated, Nurses Who Vaccinate, The

CASE Method, and the role of nurses in social media. The webcast, will be broadcasted live internationally for nurses all over the world to view and ask questions. We am quite excited about this opportunity and would like to share this event with you. Tell them we sent you!

Access to the webcast in the different languages

EN : http://www.connecting-nurses.com/web/key-role-nurses-in-vaccination-decision-making

FR: http://fr.connecting-nurses.com/web/role-infirmiers-prise-decisions-vaccination-ind-2014

ES: http://sp.connecting-nurses.com/web/personal-enfermeria-toma-decisiones-respecto-la-vacunacion

Thursday, May 8, 2014

During this Nurses Week We Remember...

Today during National Nurses Week, we would like to remember the nurses who gave their all- to care and protect their patients- and the nurses who paid the ultimate price in service. We'll also provide important information for nurses to utilize to protect themselves and each other.

We remember Gail Sandidge, a nurse in the Ambulatory Surgery Center of Good Shepherd Medical Center in Longview, Texas, who was killed November 26, 2013, after a fatal stabbing attack. Steve Altmiller, head of Good Shepherd Health Systems, said Sandidge had died trying to protect her patients. She was in the midst of caring for pre-surgical pediatric patients, when she confronted the killer. "Nurses are protectors by nature. And Gail, she fit that profile,” he said. "She was protecting her patients in an act of courage today, and in so doing, she lost her life."
Gail Sandidge & Patient

He also said Sandidge had worked with the hospital for close to 20 years and described her as "a huge Baylor fan, a mother, a grandmother, a healer, a trainer, a mentor, a nurturer."

Nurse.com has put together a tribute to Mrs. Sandidge with pictures provided by her family. Among them include this photo, taken that very morning, of Nurse Gail and a patient she would later selflessly defend.

Haye dispensary showing
abandoned polio vaccine kits
We remember the many dedicated nurses and workers working endlessly to protect children from the threat of polio. Many have lost their lives in terrorists acts. Deaths had occurred as recent as last week, where three workers in Afghanistan were murdered and a nurse injured. The campaign of violence against the humanitarian workers has stretched to Pakistan, and threatens the polio vaccination initiatives. Nursingworld Nigeria powerfully states, "as we look back together, towards moving forward in the interest of the profession and nurses, we particularly call for an end to the state of insecurity that is sweeping through parts of the country threatening lives particularly nurses. We painfully remember  Jamila yusuf, whom was killed in the line of duty as a polio vaccinator on February 8, 2013 along with 10 other polio workers."

We remember the many nurses who have been injured while on duty. The two nurses in California, injured in April, stabbed as they were working.  The five nurses seriously at Sheffield's Northern General Hospital after a patient began kicking and punching staff as he wandered through corridors. The nurse who required brain surgery in February after being brutally attacked by a patient while on duty at a Brooklyn Hospital. The countless others who didn't make the headlines.

According to an article in the New York Times, "nursing ranks among the worst occupations in terms of work-related injuries." This week, and every week, be sure to spend time to take care of yourself. Nursing is a rewarding profession, but if you're not mentally or physically prepared, you may end up a patient yourself.

Information for Nurses to Protect Themselves

How nurses can care for themselves

Caring for Those Who Care: A Tribute to Nurses and Their Safety

Check out this important video, featured on Scrubsmag.com, that takes a wholehearted look at why the most important thing for a nurse is to take care of him/herself first — a message that is vitally important as nurses spend their lives caring for others, often at the expense of their own emotional and physical health.

Health Promotion in Nurses: Is There a Healthy Nurse in the House?

How nurses can nourish themselves through shift work hours

Nurses Can Still Take Care of Self While Caring for Patients