Thursday, December 4, 2014

CDC's Emergency Flu Health Advisory

The CDC has released an emergency advisory about influenza

The CDC advisory states that so far this season, influenza A (H3N2) viruses have been reported most frequently and have been detected in almost all states. This announcement comes along during a season that has already presented a few "Flu Season Surprises."

Why does this matter? During past seasons when influenza A (H3N2) viruses have predominated, higher overall and age-specific hospitalization rates and more mortality have been observed. Unfortunately 52% of the influenza A (H3N2) viruses collected and analyzed were antigenically different from the vaccine.

What that means is that the vaccine is not as close of a match for these circulating strains as scientists had hoped.  All things considered, clinicians should encourage all patients 6 months and older who have not yet received an influenza vaccine this season to be vaccinated against influenza. As nurses, it is important to share this update and stress to patients that the influenza vaccines still do protect against certain strains of the flu. While not 100% (and no vaccine is), being vaccinated to protect against the flu reduces the risk of influenza complications even among the strains that have mutated.

The CDC also stresses the usage of antiviral medications when needed and deemed appropriate. Roche's Tamiflu and GlaxoSmithKline's Relenza can shorten flu symptoms by around half a day however the CDC states that the benefit of these drugs is greatest when treatment is started early in the course of the infection.

You may see notorious websites using this information as a reason to refuse or avoid the influenza vaccine. Remember--Just because the vaccine is not a “perfect match” to  influenza A (H3N2) does not mean ones should refuse getting vaccinated. There are still other strains circulating and the vaccines still provide protection. If in the event you see websites or news sources advising against vaccination, contact them with the correct information, or direct them to the CDC for clarification. Voices for Vaccines recently wrote a blog post about the effectiveness of the influenza vaccine, and though not impervious, the influenza vaccine can make the difference of a child recovering from the flu at home on the couch or being treated in Pediatric Intensive Care Unit on a ventilator.

What else can we as nurses do to reduce the transmission of the influenza virus? 

Along with the flu prevention tips in the graphic above, the CDC urges you to "Take 3 Actions" to protect yourself and others from influenza (the flu).

  • 1-Take time to get a flu vaccine.
  • 2-Take everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs.
  • 3-Take flu antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them.

Skeptical Raptor provides a tl;dr version- The flu vaccine is incredibly safe. It’s fairly effective, though that can vary from year to year as flu variants mutate, like this year. This year’s vaccine may not be able to prevent a new variant of H3N2 flu, but it may lessen the symptoms of the variant.

The flu season has only just begun, and we've already had five flu-related pediatric deaths. It is imperative that nurses to educate patients, colleagues and their communities about the need to vaccinate against the flu. Protection is still protection, which is better than no protection at all. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Nurses Need to Lead the Way When It Comes to Flu Shots

In recognition of National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW) Nurses Who Vaccinate is participating in a blog relay as part of a countdown to the first day of NIVW. 

Each day, a different Flu Vaccination Digital Ambassador will post about the importance of flu vaccination as it relates to their readers. You can follow the NIVW conversation on Twitter using hashtag #NIVW2014 and stay tuned as each Digital Ambassador shares who will be posting next.

-NIVW Blog Relay Schedule-

Monday, December 1  –     A Place for Mom – adults 65 years and older
Tuesday, December 2 –      Nurses Who Vaccinate – health care professionals
Wednesday, December 3  - Voices for Vaccines – parents and caregivers of young children
Thursday, December 4  –   Shot of Prevention – pregnant women and parents
Friday, December 5  –       Healtheo360 – people with a chronic illness, like heart disease or diabetes
Saturday, December 6 –    HealthCentral – people with asthma 
Sunday, December 7 – Cold & Flu – people at any age or stage of life

Nurses Who Vaccinate are proud to be partnering with our fellow Digital Ambassadors in sharing the importance of influenza vaccines in the week preceding National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW). Initiated by the CDC in 2005 to highlight the importance of continuing flu vaccination through the holiday season and beyond, this year's NIVW is scheduled for December 7-13, 2014.

Nurses are the leading teachers of health care.

Nurses are the main health care workers responsible for educating patients and communities. Like many public health initiatives, the best way to educate our patients about vaccines is to lead by example.

We can only expect our patients to follow our medical advice when we implement it ourselves. We need to walk the walk if we're going to talk the talk. A nurses' role is not limited to administering vaccinations.  It is a nurses' responsibility to be vaccinated and, importantly, do so publicly.

Many nurses and doctors have taken to social media to share that they've received their influenza vaccines. Many of our Nurses Who Vaccinate members have done just that!

Another way to demonstrate the evidence-based side of nursing is by taking the CDC Flu Vaccination Pledge for the 2014-2015 Season. Nurses are also encouraged to participate the  CDC-hosted Twitter chat on Tuesday, December 9 from 1­2pm EST. Nurses can follow this event on Twitter at  @CDCFlu, and with the hashtag #NIVW2014.
The chat will:
o Emphasize that getting vaccinated in December, January and beyond may still provide protective
benefit against influenza.
o Remind parents and providers of the need for certain children to receive a second dose of flu vaccine for optimal protection.
o Provide an opportunity for people to ask questions about the flu and flu vaccination.

The influenza vaccine is safe and effective.

Vaccinating nurses and health care workers has been proven to be effective in protecting patients from influenza. Several studies have shown that vaccination of health care workers protect elderly patients in long-term care. One analysis predicted that if all health care workers in a facility were vaccinated, then approximately 60% of patient influenza infections could be prevented.

Yet, the final numbers for last flu season reported that health care worker influenza vaccination coverage was only 75.2% , similar to coverage of 72.0% in the 2012-13 season. We need to do better.

According to the American Public Health Association, "Influenza vaccination of health care workers is the single most important measure for preventing occupation-acquired and nosocomial influenza from both known and unexpected sources. Other measures, such as hand hygiene and barrier precautions, are additional protective steps, not alternatives. Masks or respirators, whether worn by people with influenza-like illness (ILI) symptoms or those who are in proximity to them, are not as protective as preexposure immunization, especially given the high proportion of asymptomatic infectious people."

You can join the growing number of nurses who are getting their influenza vaccine. Be one of the main pro-science nurses proudly saying, "I won't spread the flu to my patients or my family this year!"

If you've already received your yearly influenza vaccine for this flu season-- kudos and THANK YOU! You're setting a positive example among your co-workers and patients.

Are you encountering questions and concerns from others who are flu vaccine hesitant? Seeing a large number of flu-refusing, mask-wearing co-workers? The CDC has complied common questions and misconceptions about influenza vaccines and answered them on this page. Feel free to print it out for educational handout material and even post it in the break room! Looking for more influenza information to help encourage colleagues to get their flu shots? Check out the CDC Flu campaign for healthcare workers. If you're uncomfortable answering questions personally, send them our way via email-

Remember: CDC says an annual flu vaccination is the best protection against flu. Nurses get your flu vaccine and encourage other healthcare workers to do the same by sharing your flu vaccine selfies (#vaxselfies) on social media using the #VaxWithMe tag! Be sure to stop by the other NIVW relay participants’ blogs to learn about flu vaccination for everyone – tomorrow’s post will be hosted by our friends over at Voices for Vaccines.

Nurses Who Vaccinate are nurses and health care workers who care about themselves, patients and communities. Are you a pro-science nurse? Supporter of evidence-based nurses? Become a member- 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Americans Finally Have Access to Technology to Prevent Deaths from Meningococcal Disease Serogroup B

Americans finally have access to technology to prevent deaths from Meningococcal disease Serogroup B, but will they use it?

My 17-year-old daughter Kimberly died from meningococcal disease serogroup B in 2012.  She had been vaccinated with the current U.S. vaccine, which protects against serogroups A, C, W and Y.  Until now, there had not been a meningococcal B vaccine in the U.S.  Trumenba, a vaccine which will potentially protect against meningococcal disease, serogroup B, was approved by the FDA on October 29, 2014.

"We have been working around the clock since Trumenba was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration on Oct. 29 to supply Trumenba in the U.S., as the most frequent question we have been asked following approval is when the vaccine would be available here," stated Susan Silbermann, president and general manager of Pfizer Vaccines. "As of Nov. 18, Trumenba is available for order by health care providers, retail pharmacies, hospitals and college health centers who may be interested in stocking and administering the vaccine."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 500 total cases of   meningococcal disease were reported in the United States in 2012; of those cases, 160 were caused by serogroup B.  My daughter was 1 of 160 of those cases in 2012.  160 cases may seem like a low number but serogroup B accounts for 30% of meningococcal disease in the U.S.

My healthy child was robbed of her young life and declared brain dead after nine days of fighting for her life against meningococcemia.  She died during her last week of high school.  She was registered to begin nursing school in the fall of 2012.  She wanted to follow in my footsteps as a nurse.  Her dream was to be a pediatric nurse.

Meningococcal disease is a life-threatening illness caused by bacteria that infect the bloodstream and the lining that surrounds the brain and spinal cord.  N. meningitidis is a leading cause of bacterial meningitis. The bacteria are transmitted from person to person through respiratory or throat secretions (e.g., by coughing, kissing, or sharing eating utensils).

The symptoms of meningococcal disease are fever, joint pain, extreme headache, sensitivity to light, vomiting and in the case of meningococcemia – a purplish rash.  A person does not have to exhibit all of these symptoms.  In fact, my daughter’s symptoms were a temperature of 101 and joint pain.  Typical symptoms of the flu.  It wasn’t until the following morning that she developed petechiae and I rushed her to the Emergency Room.  In spite of being diagnosed and treated immediately, she did not survive. This disease acts very quickly and a healthy person can die from meningococcal disease within 24 hours.

We are waiting for the February meeting of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) to announce their recommendations on when to use this vaccine in early 2015 and be covered under medical insurance.  It is my hope that it will be on added to the current immunization schedule as soon as possible. With a vaccine available for the B serogroup, we will have the broadest protection available to protect against all five of the most common strains in the U.S. It would be a tragedy if Americans didn't taken advantage of this life-saving vaccine, to prevent a deadly disease from taking away more children from their parents.

Patti Wukovits, R.N. Secretary of Nurses Who Vaccinate
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. She is the founder of The Kimberly Coffey Foundation. Their mission is "Educating the public and healthcare professionals about bacterial meningitis (meningococcal disease), including the symptoms of the disease and the importance of prevention through vaccination. Our vision is a world without meningococcal disease." The Foundation plans to make nursing scholarships available in Kim's name as well as through the Foundation.
To make a donation, please send to:
The Kimberly Coffey Foundation

P.O. Box 344
Massapequa Park, NY 11762

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Demand More Than a Paper Mask

My Facebook newsfeed is inundated with Ebola panic.  I am a nurse, so many of my Facebook friends are also nurses, or have various healthcare roles.  I have never before seen this many nurses be this upset about an infectious disease.  So I would like to ask everyone who is panicking about Ebola a few questions.

-If there was a thoroughly tested Ebola vaccine, would you get it right now?

-If the hospital you worked for required you to get this Ebola vaccine during this Ebola season, would you refuse?

-If you did in fact refuse, how would you feel if the hospital you worked for required you to wear a paper mask in lieu of the vaccine?

-If you were the coworker (or more importantly the patient) of a nurse refusing the vaccine and choosing to wear the mask, would you feel a simple paper mask was sufficient to prevent the spread of Ebola?

-Would you be upset if they pulled the mask down to cough or sneeze? Would you be upset if they removed the mask while in the break room, or on their way to the cafeteria to grab some lunch?

-Assume you are a patient and your nurse walks into your room wearing a mask.   You ask why they are wearing a mask and they responded that they were required to because they refused the Ebola vaccine.  When you voice some concern, they say "Oh, it's just Ebola."  How would that make you feel?

-Would you be concerned if your unvaccinated nurse previously cared for a patient with Ebola, and then came to work not feeling so well and then cared for you?

How would that make you feel, if you knew nurses refusing a vaccine for a disease that takes anywhere from 3,000 to 48,000 lives a year in this country? But wait a minute.... Ebola doesn't claim thousands of lives in the United States, nor is there a vaccine available for the public.

But influenza has been documented to kill thousands in a season. Yet, while there are vaccines to prevent transmission, people, even nurses, still refuse to get their annual flu shot.

Think about that for a moment.  

Although not gloriously paraded around social media at the moment, influenza can kill up to 50,000 Americans each year.  Be alarmed!  Influenza is more contagious than Ebola.  But guess what?  We can prevent some of those cases and save some of those lives by vaccinating ourselves and our patients.

Ebola has killed one person who traveled to the United States.  It has no vaccine.  It has killed approximately 4,000 worldwide.  If you are upset about Ebola, that's normal and understandable.  But you should also be upset about influenza, measles, and pertussis, amongst others.

Infectious diseases should upset nurses.  Preventable infectious diseases that are being spread due to vaccine refusal should really upset nurses.  Seeing colleagues willingly refuse their influenza vaccines based on misinformation should really really upset pro-science nurses.

Protect your patients.  Demand preparation.  Demand those you work with to join you in protecting the patients, each other and your community.  Get your flu vaccine!

"Ebola is very scary. But people in the United States are frightened of Ebola for statistically very little good reason. It's fear disproportionate to the risk. Influenza has far too little fear based on the risk. It's fascinating to me to see social media panic and listen to people worried about Ebola who have never had an influenza vaccine, where statistically the thing you will get this year is influenza. You'll probably do yourself and those around you the most good by getting a flu shot." - David Cennimo, infectious disease physician/assistant professor of medicine and pediatrics at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.

Nurses Who Vaccinate member Margaret Smith is a Registered Nurse from Sacramento, California.  She is currently working in Gastroenterology and Quality Management, but her primary background is in Emergency nursing.  Margaret holds a Bachelors of Science from Grove City College, and studied nursing in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  She is currently pursuing her BSN and MSN.  Margaret became passionate about vaccine promotion after having her first child, when she became aware of the anti-vaccine movement and local parents choosing not to vaccinate.  She has a husband, two daughters, a dog, and two cats, all fully vaccinated.  ;)  Her one wish is that nurses and healthcare professionals everywhere would understand and accept evidenced based practice and educate their patients accordingly.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Why Are Nurses Celebrating World Polio Day?

While some nurses are busy huffing and puffing about refusing free influenza shots, other nurses are taking action to protect children around the world from vaccine preventable diseases. One of these diseases they’re working to eradicate is the infamous Poliovirus. Today, we’re closer than ever to ridding the world of this devastating disease. However while the vast majority of the world is polio-free, there are still three countries where the wild poliovirus has never been stopped: Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan… Nearly 80 percent of all polio cases are concentrated in Pakistan. The two other remaining polio-endemic countries continue to show progress. Nigeria has decreased polio cases by 87 percent and Afghanistan has recorded fewer than 10 cases of this devastating disease. The remaining 1 percent of polio cases are the most difficult to prevent, due to factors such as geographical isolation, poor public infrastructure, armed conflict, and cultural barriers.

But what are nurses, so far and removed, in developed countries doing to stop polio?

They are celebrating World Polio Day. 

Every year, World Polio Day provides an opportunity to recognize the importance of polio eradication efforts. World Polio Day was established to commemorate the birth of Jonas Salk, who led the first team to develop a vaccine against poliomyelitis. Use of this inactivated poliovirus vaccine and subsequent widespread use of the oral poliovirus, developed by Albert Sabin, led to the establishment of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) in 1988. Since then, GPEI has reduced polio worldwide by 99%.

World Polio Day represents celebration and awareness: We should celebrate the success of the polio eradication efforts- the millions of lives that have been saved and the fact that the polio vaccine has helped children avoid the devastating complications of polio. However we need to be aware of the need to continue the work that that is necessary to completely eradicate this horrid disease.

Rotary's campaign End Polio Now makes it easy for busy healthcare workers(who aren’t wasting time organizing protests against life-saving vaccines). The vast majority of nurses are pro-science and advocate for usage of medical technology that keeps patients and communities healthy.  If you’re one to recognize the positive impact that vaccines have made on lives everywhere, check out a Rotary chapter in your area. They’ve been playing a major role in the fight against polio. When Rotary began the fight in 1985, polio affected 350,000 people, mostly children, in 125 countries every year. Since then, polio cases have dropped by more than 99 percent. To date, Rotary has contributed $1.3 billion and countless volunteer hours to protect more than two billion children. After nearly 30 years, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative stands on the brink of history by making polio only the second human disease to be stopped forever.

To mark World Polio Day, Rotary will host a live-streamed global status update on the fight to end polio. Invited guests include Global Polio Eradication Initiative partners; celebrity ambassadors, including Ziggy Marley; polio survivors, including inspirational athlete Minda Dentler; and Rotary members. Nurses are encouraged to watch and live-tweet support during the event.
Link -

Nurses are busy working here in the United States to address these global concerns. Many are working towards a solution here in our own back yard, with Shot@Life, a UN Foundation campaign that educates, connects and empowers Americans to champion vaccines as one of the most cost-effective ways to save the lives of children in developing countries. If advocacy is your calling, sign up to become a champion today.

 Nurses Who Vaccinate members are sharing personal stories about polio on blogs and social media. You can also read a post here by Nurses Who Vaccinate member Julie Cali, about how polio has and still continues to affect her family today. She’s working hard to share her story and to educate others about the importance of vaccinating.

And Nurses Who Vaccinate members are celebrating World Polio Day by doing what they do best- throwing a party. If you’re in the New York/Long Island area tonight, you can also stop by our World Polio Day event, Nurses Night Out. Nurses and healthcare workers are some of the most compassionate people, and as we thank them for working hard to keep our communities safe and healthy, we’re going to be educating them on how everyone can play a part in this historical movement.

While it may be too late to host your own World Polio Day event, you can make a difference in many ways. You can donate to causes on the front lines, tweet and blog about polio, and watch the live-streamed events. Together, let us celebrate vaccines and work together to ensure that children everywhere are protected from vaccine preventable diseases and have a shot at life.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Why This Nurse Chose a Flu Shot over a Mask (And then took a Selfie)

To be honest, I am one of the least photogenic people I know and probably the only person my age who has not mastered the art of the selfie.  I usually can’t be bothered to even think about selfies, never mind actually taking one.  But they are very popular, and probably will be for a while. Unlike Flu shots for some reason. Lately there seems to be a lot of controversy about flu shots, despite all the data and information researchers have showing that it is effective and safe.  I recently read that there were 108 pediatric deaths in the United States from Influenza during the 2013-2014 Flu season, and majority were unvaccinated  That is 108 children who won’t go home to their parents.  If you’re thinking well I’m not a kid but I am young and I am healthy why should I bother with the flu shot?  Put it this way during that same 2013-2014 flu season >60% of the hospitalizations for Influenza were people from ages 18-64 years old.  

Now I am a Registered Nurse, I have an associate’s degree in nursing and bachelors in psychology.  I am also currently working on finishing my BSN (Bachelors of Science in Nursing).  It’s pretty safe to say that helping people is of particular interest to me.  I care for others when they are not well; it’s what I do in my profession and what I do in my personal life.  When I am not working I will even volunteer my time at the health department, I care about the health of others even beyond my friends and family.  

When I was at my pinning ceremony after completing my ADN my entire cohort in front of all of our friends, family, and the faculty we recited what is commonly referred to as the Florence Nightingale Pledge:

“I solemnly pledge myself before God and in the presence of this assembly, to pass my life in purity and to practice my profession faithfully. I will abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous, and will not take or knowingly administer any harmful drug. I will do all in my power to maintain and elevate the standard of my profession, and will hold in confidence all personal matters committed to my keeping and all family affairs coming to my knowledge in the practice of my calling. With loyalty will I endeavor to aid the physician in his work, and devote myself to the welfare of those committed to my care.”

Getting my flu shot every year is one of the simple ways that I can elevate the standard of my profession and devote myself to the welfare of those committed to my care.  By getting my flu shot every year I reduce my risk of being a vector of preventable disease and passing it on to the patients in my care, my loved ones at home or people I encounter in the community while going about my life.  I am practicing what I teach and preach about often the best health care is preventative care.  Being a nurse who vaccinates, is being a nurse who cares. 

Here is a selfie of me getting my flu shot this year and I hope you actively choose to get one too.  Why did I get my flu vaccine? I feel ethically and morally obligated to protect those around me that are at risk from my extra exposure by working in health care, and I hate being sick too.

When you do get your influenza vaccine, be proud and share it along with the many pro-science nurses and vaccine advocate who are speaking up loudly. Post your flu shot selfie on the Nurses Who Vaccinate Facebook page. Tweet it and post it to Instagram with the hashtags #VaxSelfie, #VaxWithMe #FluShotShoutOut. Be sure to send it to us at @NursesWhoVax . Who knows, if enough of us show the public that we as nurses are getting flu vaccines, maybe #FluShotsSaveLives will be the next trend. 

Tarsha-Marie Schwarzengerg, RN, Nurses Who Vaccinate Member

Nurse Tarsha-Marie is a Registered Nurse licensed in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Her specialties include nephrology, dialysis, home care and pediatrics. She is married with a three year old child with whom she enjoys knitting, hiking and camping. The family pets include cats, dogs and a rabbit, and yes, they're all vaccinated. 

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 ( 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  For information about the FREE screening check out the event facebook page
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.
DeStefano F, Price CS, Weintraub ES.  Journal of Pediatrics. (2013). Evaluation of immunization rates and safety among children with inborn errors of metabolism
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:

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)

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 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-

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.