Thursday, April 28, 2016

Every Child’s Life is Precious

During World Immunization Week (April 24-30) organizations around the world raise their voices to educate, promote and increase the rates of immunization against vaccine-preventable diseases.

Why? Because every child’s life is precious!  Yet in developing countries around the world, a child dies every 20 seconds of diseases that can be easily prevented with a vaccine.  When you think that every 20 seconds a child dies (which equals 3 children per minute), 180 will die in an hour and 4320 children will die in a day.  Can you imagine 1440 children dying during your shift of 8 hours at work? I know for many of us here in United States this seems astonishing and incredible, but this is a reality for many mothers and children in developing countries.

As a former nurse, an avid educator and as an advocate for children’s health, I know the impact vaccines have in improving children’s chances to grow healthy and to get an education.  I personally witnessed firsthand the pain and sorrow of mothers when their children were suffering.  I remember their stoic faces as others held back tears while holding their dead children in their arms.  I witnessed how diarrhea took the lives of little children because their mothers did not realize they could die from it.  The sad part is that all of these childhood diseases could have been prevented with a simple vaccine.

Every year I volunteer and travel to do humanitarian missions in developing countries.  My personal focus is to educate the rural community leaders and adults about childhood diseases and of the importance of immunizations as a way to prevent these diseases in their children.  Without regard to the distances and sacrifices they bear, these parents are eager to learn and walk 5-10 hours to get to a clinic to ask for help and receive proper care.  Poverty, malnutrition and lack of education keep these little communities isolated and far away from common notice or knowledge.

I traveled to Uganda with the Shot@life team and witnessed their Childhood Immunization Family Health Day hosted by UNICEF in the districts of Mumbende and Fort Portal after mosque and church services.  Mothers with their children lined up and waited patiently to receive medical care, some of them having walked 10-15 miles to get their children immunized.  My favorite part was talking to the mothers and listening to their concerns and worries which were not unlike ours.  I met mothers that had lost as many as five children before their 5th birthday.  Other mothers did not name their children until they were sure they would not die young.  In developing countries, many mothers never see their children live to celebrate their 5th birthday.  Instead of celebrating a birthday, they have to prepare for their child’s burial.

I talked to doctors and country representatives of Fort Portal and they told me that 386 children under the age of five will die in one day and that 141,000 children under five are lost annually.  Uganda is one of 30 countries in the world with the highest number of deaths of children in that age group.
I know these mothers and children seem a world far away from us, but they are no different than we are and each child life is precious.  Children everywhere deserve a shot at a healthy life no matter where they live.

The good news is that the worldwide measles vaccination program has resulted in a 79% drop in measles-related deaths (between 2000 and 2014) - and we, here in the U.S., can have an impact on the lives of children around the globe.  Funding for global vaccine programs is less than 1% of the total U.S. budget, but this funding helps save 2.5 million lives every year.

Vaccines don’t just prevent illness!  They give children the chance to grow up healthy, attend school, and become productive members of society.  They are a “best-buy” in global health with a low cost and a long-term payoff that extends far beyond the health of an individual child.

It is also important to remember that vaccinations are not just a global issue - vaccinations are a local and a national issue. We all are part of the human race and we have a shared responsibility for the less fortunate.  Policymakers, both here and in Washington, should stand up and support US-led global health programs, specifically those programs focused on saving the lives of children in developing countries by providing them with vaccines.

As a mother and a Shot@Life Champion Leader I know that each of us can make a difference this week!

 Join us in supporting global health by; meeting with your legislators and asking for their support in funding global vaccines programs. You can also make a donation to support the work of the UN and vaccine partners around the globe at

Think about it – in the 6 or 7 minutes it took you to read this article, 18 to 21 children died of vaccine- preventable diseases.  Please, every child life is precious.  Together we can save more children!

Felisa Hilbert is former nurse from Mexico that worked and participated in many rural vaccine campaigns where she saw firsthand the pain and sorrow that many  children suffer due to the lack of vaccines and medical care. She is also a Nurses Who Vaccinate member. 
Mrs. Hilbert humanitarian mom & wife with a heart to help children in or from developing countries. Global health, poverty and  participate in education are some of her favorite passions.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

CDC—When a Behemoth Needs Help #NIIW

To obtain a master’s degree in public relations, one of my course requirements was to analyze the public relations perspectives of any topical issue. It coincided with the peak period of the Ebola crisis, so I quickly picked on the Center for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC), because the Center was in the middle of it all.

Predictably, the summation of my presentation was that the CDC underperformed in managing the crisis, as it was always putting the wrong foot forward at almost all instances. It was either the CDC reacted very late or said the wrong thing, so much so that its credibility was almost called into question. Barely one year after, another deadly disease, Zika is now on the prowl, and I visited the CDC website to see how the Center is responding this time around.

While on the site, I spent more time going through other activities of the CDC and was astounded at the volume of activities the Center deals with on daily basis.

From diseases like cancer to heart disease, sexually transmitted disease, ADHD, diabetes, flu(influenza), the Center is also highly involved in emergency preparedness, workplace safety& health, environmental health and outbreaks, to mention but a few.

I quickly came to the conclusion that the CDC is akin to a healthcare clearing house, a healthcare behemoth and I wondered if its staff strength is able to effectively coordinate these numerous activities.

I left the site with empathy, feeling strongly that the Center needs help. For a Center that works daily to protect Americans from health, safety and security threats, both from abroad and in the U.S, the body sure needs help from health workers, it needs help from health professionals and it needs help from volunteers and most especially it needs help from nonprofit organizations that are scattered all over the place.

Taking into consideration that whether diseases start at home or abroad, are chronic or acute, curable or preventable, human error or deliberate attack, the CDC fights them and supports communities and citizens to do the same.

It is in the light of this that one commends the initiative of Nurses Who Vaccinate (NWV), a not-for-profit organization made up of nurses and other health professionals who advocate for immunizations to hold a local version of the National Infant Immunization Awareness program in Long Island, New York must be commended.

The National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW), is an annual program of the Center for Disease Control to highlight the positive impact of vaccinations on the lives of infants and children. It is a national program set for April 16-23 in 2016 and is celebrated as part of the World Immunization Week, an initiative of the World Health Organization.

However, Nurses Who Vaccinate, in conjunction with other nurses on Long Island, is leveraging the CDC’s infant immunization week to reach out to the underserved population with information and education to advocate for wellness of children in its communities.

Melody Butler, a pediatric nurse at Good Samaritan Hospital in Long Island, founder of the organization says “their mission is to collaborate with health systems and other organizations to promote general wellness for all through immunization.”

This collaboration becomes very pertinent because as big as CDC might be, it cannot be at every nook and corner of the country and therefore needs foot soldiers to help spread its health and wellness message.

Without a doubt, not many people are aware of the infants’ immunization week, but this young and proactive nonprofit, NWV is holding the event at the Martin Luther King Health Center at Wyandanch, a small community in New York.

According to Melody Butler, the event is to compliment efforts of the CDC in advancing the cause and benefits of immunization.

“At a time, some nurses, saddled with the responsibility to vaccinate are now opposed to it, it becomes incumbent on us, the pro-vaccination nurses to raise the bar by joining hands to promote vaccination,” Butler pointed out.

NWV she indicated, has put in place all that is needed at the community level to bring together parents and guardians and educate them on the virtue of vaccinations.

At the national level, the CDC is using the infants’ immunization awareness week to among others highlight the dangers of vaccine-preventable diseases, especially to infants and young children, educate parents and caregivers about the importance of vaccination in protecting their children from birth against vaccine-preventable diseases and focus attention on its immunization achievements and also, celebrate the accomplishments made possible through successful collaboration.

Findings show that the CDC will also step up efforts to protect children against vaccine-preventable diseases, thereby give them a healthy start in life, encourage better communication between parents and health care professionals and remind parents and caregivers they need to make and keep needed immunization appointments.

It has also created events that attract community support and media interest in order to increase national and local coverage of stories on the importance of childhood immunization, as well as create opportunities for local organizations and agencies to work together as immunization partners, for which the NWV is taking advantage of.

The Center has never pretended it can effectively do this nationwide alone, it therefore supports efforts to provide web-based resources for state and local health departments and local coalitions to develop and implement a communication strategy that will increase awareness of the importance of immunization and improve local vaccine coverage rates.

Not even a million staff members can help send CDC’s wellness message to all the communities, it therefore needs in large number, the partnership of organizations like Nurses Who Vaccinate to serve as messengers of this important lifesaving information.

Since 1994, local and state health departments, national immunization partners, healthcare professionals, community leaders from across the United States and CDC have worked together through NIIW to highlight the positive impact of vaccination on the lives of infants and children, and to call attention to immunization achievements. By so doing, several notable milestones have been accomplished in controlling vaccine-preventable diseases worldwide.

Partnership is the keyword here. Working on the communications aspect for the 2016 NIIW, with Nurses Who Vaccinate in New York, one sees first hand, how the organization takes the immunization message to the grassroots through a one on one mobilization and education of members of the community on the benefits of immunization.

The grassroots approach at community health centers, WIC offices, pediatric clinics adopted by Nurses Who Vaccinate goes a long way to allay the fears and concerns parents have against immunization and kudos must also be given to the CDC for the avalanche of materials made available in various languages for this awareness drive on infant immunization.

Like the theme of this year’s campaign says, immunization indeed has power to protect!

Williams Ekanem, is a communications specialist based in Long Island, New York can be reached @

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

This Is Why it's Important that DeNiro Canceled "VAXXED:" There is no link between vaccines and autism.

In light of Autism Acceptance Month, we at Nurses Who Vaccinate would like to sincerely thank the TriBeCa Film Festival and Mr. Robert DeNiro for making the decision to remove the documentary "Vaxxed" from the lineup.  While Mr. DeNiro originally desired to add more to the conversation on vaccines and autism, we are thrilled to hear that he listened to the advice and wisdom of the medical professionals he met with from the CDC when they assured him that there are no links between vaccines and autism, and that nothing additional would be added to the conversation by showing the film.

It's really important that DeNiro canceled this film, and this is why: vaccines don't have anything to do with autism, and promoting this idea is not only dangerous to public health, but it leads parents to put their children at risk by making the choice to forgo the recommended schedule of vaccines for their children without any good reason to do so.

The film "Vaxxed" discusses the flawed research of Dr. Andrew Wakefield, a British gastroenterologist who lost his medical license for claiming that the MMR vaccine led to autism based upon his "research," which appeared in the British Medical Journal, The Lancet, in 1998. It has been stated that the Wakefield fraud is "likely to go down as one of the most serious frauds in medical history." (Godlee F. The fraud behind the MMR scare. BMJ. 2011;342:d22.)

 In the year 2000, the Lancet retracted Wakefield's study and 10 of the 12 authors also rescinded their involvement.

Since the Wakefield study hit the world in 1998, countless families across the globe have made the choice to stop vaccinating their children for fear of developing autism despite the fact that there are hundreds of large-scale studies  involving thousands of children which demonstrate no link between vaccines and autism. Parents still cling to Wakefield's study, which only included a sample size of 12 children from which he took blood samples at child's birthday party. Research studies typically include thousands of study subjects, and 12 is hardly grounds for proving any link of any kind. Further, no scientist or researcher has ever been able to replicate Dr. Wakefield's results and the CDC alone has funded 9 studies since 2013 which also demonstrate no link between vaccines and autism.

 The global damage from Wakefield's retracted study has been insurmountable. In Britain, MMR vaccinations dropped to only 80% in 2004. There were more cases of measles in the US in 2008 than there were in 1997 before the MMR vaccine was widely utilized. Even after anti-vaxxers funded a study which also demonstrated no link between vaccines and autism, people still believe that there is a link.

Wakefield received more than $670,000 from lawyers to testify on behalf of families who intended to sue the manufacturers of the MMR vaccine, while Wakefield was also working on his own measles vaccine. This was a huge conflict of interest which he failed to report and ultimately led to the rescinding of his medical license in 2004.
It has been 18 years since Andrew Wakefield fueled the fears of parents globally, and he intends to do so further with the creation of the "Vaxxed" documentary.

It was a very big high-five for public health that "Vaxxed" was not played at the TriBeCa film festival and we are very thankful that to TriBeCa and Mr. DeNiro for making the decision to end a conversation which shouldn't have been started in the first place. Here's a great review on the documentary and why it's not worth seeing:

There never has been, nor will there ever be, a link between vaccines and autism and getting your children vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) is one of the best choices you can make for your family!

Angela Quinn, BSN, RN is a registered nurse on Long Island, NY. She is passionate about nursing and public health and is involved with a number of projects which promote life-saving vaccines. Angela volunteers as an Executive Board Member in Vaccine Advocacy for Nurses Who Vaccinate, is the founder of the blog Correcting the Misconceptions of Anti-Vaccine Resources and is the creator of Future Nurse Abby.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Families Advocate for Meningitis Vaccine on both sides of the Ocean

The nurses and members of Nurses Who Vaccinate would like to offer sincere support and our deepest gratitude to Lee Booth, of the UK, for bringing attention to a serious and life-threatening communicable disease: meningitis B.

As news of the tragic death of two-year-old Fay Burdett from Kent County in South East England due to a meningitis B bacterial infection rocked the world on Valentine’s Day 2016, attention was brought to an important issue in the United Kingdom: the fact that the meningitis B vaccine is not made available for all children and is only covered at no cost for those under 12 months. Lee Booth, a father of two, started a petition to get the meningitis B vaccine available for all children on the free schedule of vaccines in September 2015 when his older daughter was denied the vaccine because she was older than 12 months. Booth, like many parents, was upset that parents who wanted to protect their children older than 12 months would have to pay out of pocket for this life-saving vaccine.

Faye Burdett from Kent County in the UK was just two when meningitis B took her life after struggling with the infection for 11 days. Her parents released the photo of her on the right to raise awareness on how swiftly meningitis B can claim a life.

Before the death of Faye Burdett in February 2016, the petition only had about 900 signatures. As of this writing in March 2016, the petition ( has received more than 822,000 signatures, making it the largest petition ever signed in Parliamentary history!

The UK Parliament responded to the Booth petition by stating that they cannot provide the vaccine to all children as it would be too costly, citing the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI) recommendation that it is only cost effective to offer the three-part meningitis B vaccine, Bexsero, series at ages 2 months, 4 month and 12 months.

Alan Glynn from Perth has stated that he’s “disgusted” that the UK has not amended the schedule of vaccines even after the petition reached over 800,000 signatures. Glynn lost his daughter, Alexa, to meningitis 5 years ago and has been a strong advocate in spreading awareness of the disease and the vaccines available ever since.

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic Ocean, the Kimberly Coffey Foundation, which was founded in honor of Kimberly Coffey who lost her life to meningitis B in 2012, also chimed in on the issue, stating on their Facebook page, “We agree with you Alan. Human life should not be equated into what is cost-effective".

Bacterial meningitis infects about 3,200 people annually in the UK and more than 1 in 10 of those cases are fatal. Children under 5 and adolescents are most likely to contract meningitis B in the UK, yet the vaccine is currently only available for those under 12 months. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), bacterial meningitis is highly contagious and spreads through respiratory droplets and throat secretions. Symptoms of meningococcal disease are usually sudden and flu-like, including fever, headache, and the hallmark signs of a stiff neck and extreme sensitivity to light. In the United States, anyone can get meningitis B but it is most common in children under one and in adolescents.

In October 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the approval of Trumenba, the first vaccine licensed in the United States to prevent invasive meningococcal disease caused by Neisseria meningitidis serogroup B in children ages 10 through 25. In January 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the approval of Bexsero, a second vaccine to prevent meningitis B. However, the U.S. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) only suggests that children ages 10-25 “may be vaccinated” against meningitis B and doesn’t include this important vaccine alongside the other vaccines on the recommended schedule of vaccines for meningitis serogroups A,C,W & Y.

In February 2015, the Kimberly Coffey Foundation met with the ACIP in Atlanta to advocate for adding meningitis serogroup B vaccination to the recommended schedule of vaccines. The ACIP determined that vaccination would only be offered to high risk populations in the event of an outbreak. In June 2015, the ACIP amended their suggestions to state, “A MenB vaccine series may be administered to adolescents and young adults aged 16–23 years to provide short-term protection against most strains of serogroup B meningococcal disease. The preferred age for MenB vaccination is 16–18 years (recommendation Category B).”

It is our hope that the Booth petition continues to grow and that the UK Parliament makes the decision to extend the availability of the meningitis B vaccine to children older than 12 months. We also hope that the U.S. ACIP makes the decision to add the meningitis B vaccines to the recommended schedule of vaccines and we at Nurses Who Vaccinate will continue to support any and all petitions to the UK Parliament, the U.S. ACIP or any other governing agency which supports the addition of meningitis B vaccines to their recommended schedule of vaccines.

Angela Quinn, BSN, RN is a registered nurse on Long Island. She is passionate about nursing and public health and serves as an Executive Board Member in Vaccine Advocacy for Nurses Who Vaccinate.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

How to #BeLikeBen when Caring for our Communities

Dr. Benjamin Franklin cared about others in his community. He worked to make his community, and indeed, his country better.
Among his many contributions to colonial American society, Dr. Franklin was an avid supporter of a collective focus on public health and safety. He helped establish the nation’s first public hospital, Pennsylvania Hospital, and contributed to a variety of medical discoveries (see Did You Know section). As a public health activist, Dr. Franklin is remembered as an avid supporter of smallpox inoculation in the 1730s. At that time, protection from smallpox was afforded by a process known as variolation. Variolation involved taking pus from a smallpox pustule of an infected person and either injecting it into a non-immune person or drying it for later inhalation as a powder by a non-immune person. While the process would typically cause a mild form of the illness, it also produced lifelong immunity. (CHOP Ben Franklin — Pro-vaccine Before Vaccines Were Invented?)
Dr. Franklin supported using variolation to protect against smallpox after losing his own son to the disease. Sadly, his son had not been inoculated.

Like Ben Franklin, nurses work to make their community and country better. Every day, in communities around the country, nurses care for people. They work to make them better; they work to prevent them from getting ill. The educate communities and families on importance of healthy living and infection prevention.

Doctors are also an important asset to community health. One particular doctor has made it his life's mission and recently received recognition. Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (VEC), recently received the 2016 Benjamin Franklin Founder Award for his contributions to public health and medicine. To celebrate this award, this month’s issue of the VEC’s Parents PACK newsletter  shares stories of Ben Franklin’s accomplishments and those of other groups working to make our communities better.

You don't need to be a doctor, nurse or Ben Franklin to make a difference. Shot Of Prevention provides 5 simple things you can do to support public health and immunizations:

  •  With Your Comments and Posts On Social Media
  •  With Your Family At Holiday Functions
  •  With Your Friends While Out to Dinner
  •  With Your Neighbors At the Bus Stop
  •  With Your Vote On Election Day

Check out their blog post for more info.

The Vaccine Education Center is also promoting use of #BeLikeBen on social media to recognize people you know, who like Ben Franklin, Paul Offit and all the Nurses Who Vaccinate, make their communities better places to live. Be sure to use the hashtag often and spread the word how we can can support public health.

This guest post was contributed by Matthew Chando who is member of Nurses Who Vaccinate. He is the Parents PACK program manager at the Vaccine Education Center at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

When You Share Zika Virus Rumors, the Mosquitoes Win

The Zika virus is a hot topic right now and you may be seeing articles being shared from various sources and websites. As research progresses, more information is being discovered and shared about the link between the virus and the developmental disorder, microcephaly. Unfortunately, like many new and mysterious medical topics, myths and rumors are bound to pop out and be passed around as truths. It only took a few weeks for the stories and conspiracies theories to poke their head and make their way to social media concerning the Zika Virus and increased reports of microcephaly in Brazil, and they are already damaging public health efforts.

One of the most damaging myths being passed around online is about how a group of physicians claimed that the thousands of cases of microcephaly reported this year aren’t due to the Zika virus, but are instead due to pesticides. There's another rumor that a British biotech company released genetically modified mosquitoes to combat dengue fever in Brazil and that caused the thousands of cases microcephaly as an adverse effect. Neither of these stories or theories hold up under rational scrutiny. These are stories that are merely fear pieces that ignore the scientific evidence.

Unfortunately, it's not only laypeople falling for this myths, but also celebrities and widely-recognized figures, who then share them as potential theories and thus increase the likelihood of more people reading and falling victim to them.

Let's quickly debunk these two myths and move on to how this hurts our efforts in battling the Zika virus. The larvicide pyriproxyfen, a chemical that kills mosquito larvae, has been thoroughly studied. It is used worldwide and it's only effect is reducing the number of mosquitoes that carry deadly diseases. Pyripyroxyfen has been used for decades, with no reports of increased birth defects.

Using genetically modified mosquitoes and bacteria is a prevention method being supported and encouraged by the World Health organization (WHO). The modified mosquitoes receive a modified gene, usually male mosquitoes, so that when they mate with females in the wild, they will produce offspring that die before they reach adulthood. There is no evidence to support rumors tying Zika to genetically modified mosquitoes.

The conspiracy theorists aren't limiting themselves to accusing genetically modified mosquitoes or
larvicides. The New York Times wrote a collective article about the many types of conspiracy theories about Zika spreading through Brazil. Frontline also gathered a collection of debunked Zika myths involving a falsified claimed that expired vaccines are to blame.

"The rumor exasperates Patricia Ismael de Carvalho, general director of information and strategic actions in epidemiological surveillance for the Pernambuco State Secretariat of Health. She insisted that vaccines present no danger to pregnant women, and that there is nothing to support the theory.
“It’s impossible. Vaccination given to pregnant women are all inactivated viruses. There is nothing active in the vaccine, nothing to cause harm,” she said."

Journalists reported on the ongoing battle to educate and spread accurate information. Health departments are trying to reach out in any possible way: leaflets; TV and radio advertisements; the mobilization of businesses, churches and nongovernmental organizations; weekly press conferences and near daily coverage by local media.

At the current moment, there is no specific treatment for Zika patients. Without a cure, treatment focuses on supportive care such as rest, re-hydration, managing fever and pain. In regards to preventing the virus, it will be at least 18 months before any vaccines are tested in large-scale clinical trials. In the meantime people traveling and living in the Zika areas are advised to follow strict mosquito prevention strategies throughout the entire day, not just at dusk.

Recommendations for Those Traveling/Living in an Area of Zika Virus Transmission 
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants 
  • Use U.S. Environmental Protection Agency EPA registered insect repellents 
  • Wear permethrin-treated clothing and gear 
  • Staying and sleeping in screened-in or air-conditioned rooms
  • Follow these steps to prevent your home and living space from mosquitoes.

Healthcare professionals are asked to monitor the CDC and state/local health departments for evidence-based, accurate information and updates on the progress of Zika virus treatment and prevention. (

Nurses, when you come across myths and rumors- counter them with appropriate sources from the CDC and and health departments. Don't be afraid to speak up!

Remember- when you share dangerous Zika misinformation, you're hurting science and letting the mosquitoes win.

The Zika Virus may seem to be a world away, but with recent cases appearing across the United States,
this not-so-new virus is grabbing the attention of the media and medical professionals alike.
With the upcoming summer Olympics scheduled to take place in Brazil, the epicenter of the recent Zika outbreak,
concern is growing over the threat the virus may pose, particularly to pregnant women. New York
is far from Brazil, but many in our area have questions and concerns.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Don't Wait to Vaccinate for Meningococcal Disease.

Two cases of serogroup B meningococcal disease have been confirmed at Santa Clara University in California. The university will now have to scramble to implement vaccine clinics to protect other students. We urge communities and schools to please be proactive - not reactive - and vaccinate now for MenB and the other four serogroups of this disease. Serogroup B is the most common serogroup in the US right now. Please do not put these vaccinations on your "to do" list or think this disease can't strike your child. And remember this is not just a college disease.

This is an issue near and dear to our hearts here at Nurses Who Vaccinate. Executive Board member Patti Wukovitis's daughter Kimberly was a high school senior when she contracted meningitis B and passed away. Please note that 11-25 years old are the ages of highest risk.

We will keep these students in our prayers and also pray that this does not turn into an outbreak situation.

Please see below for a recent statement from Patti Wukovits, RN, Executive Director, The Kimberly Coffey Foundation


In light of today’s news of two confirmed cases of serogroup B meningococcal disease at the University of Santa Clara in California, we urge all adolescents and young adults ages 10-25 to be vaccinated with a serogroup B vaccine series in addition to a quadrivalent (serogroups A,C,W and Y) meningococcal conjugate vaccine. This will offer you the best protection against all five serogroups of meningococcal disease (more commonly referred to as bacterial meningitis). Please do not assume that you are protected against serogroup B (MenB) if you have been vaccinated for meningococcal disease unless you have received this very important ADDITIONAL vaccine. Serogroup B currently accounts for 40% of meningococcal disease in the U.S. and is not just a college disease.

My 17-year-old daughter, Kimberly Coffey, died in 2012 from serogroup B meningococcal disease just three days before her high school graduation.  As a parent, I had the false sense of security that Kimberly was fully protected because she had been vaccinated for meningococcal disease. As it turns out, she was not because the quadrivalent conjugate vaccine does not include or protect against serogroup B. In 2012 Kimberly didn’t have the opportunity to be protected against serogroup B. But because serogroup B vaccines are now available as of 2014, you do. Please, please get vaccinated.

Visit our website for further information about the symptoms, protection and transmission of meningococcal disease.  If you require assistance in finding vaccination for MenB, we can help you locate a provider in your area. Contact Patti Wukovits, RN at 

Patti Wukovits, R.N.
Executive Director

Patti Wukovits, R.N. Secretary of Nurses Who Vaccinate
Patti Wukovits has been a registered nurse for 9 years. She is the Executive Director of The Kimberly Coffey Foundation, a foundation she and her husband established after the loss of her daughter Kim. The Kimberly Coffey Foundation’s mission is to educate the public and healthcare professionals about bacterial meningitis (meningococcal disease), including the symptoms of the disease and the importance of prevention through vaccination. Patti has also made The Kimberly Coffey Memorial Nursing Scholarship available in Kim's name as Kim’s dream was to be a pediatric nurse. She is a M.O.M. (Moms on Meningitis) with the National Meningitis Association. Married with 4 children (her son Chris, her daughter Kim, her stepdaughter Jaclyn and her stepson John).