Friday, March 15, 2019

Nurses Who Vaccinate at the February 2019 ACIP Meeting

Last month, I had the opportunity to attend the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) meeting. I was fortunate enough to be chosen as one of 21 individuals permitted to make a public comment to address the committee. Of those commenters, myself and one other - Alison Singer, co-founder of the Autism Science Foundation - were the only voices in support of vaccination. I’d like to share the overall impact that the meeting had for me.

What struck me first was the data presented. To reference one of my favorite 80’s songs, they blinded me with science! Even though I lost sleep stressing over my statistics classes and nursing research classes while in college, it was clear that without an understanding of statistics, study design and medical ethics, much of the scientific data presented may not have made sense or could be easily misinterpreted. Each working group focused on a particular vaccine – Japanese encephalitis, Anthrax, the new Hexavalent vaccine (TDaP, HepB, Polio and HiB combo), meningococcal group B, etc. After the working group presented the data and their suggestions for any revisions to current recommendations based on that data, the remainder of the committee made comments and asked questions.

I also really appreciated the questions and comments as those remarks helped to clarify details in the data and verbiage of proposed changes to recommendations. Watching the process, it was clear that a tremendous amount of work goes into ensuring that the evidence for safety and efficacy is robust before making any changes to current recommendations.

The other major factor that made an impression on me was large contingent of anti-vaccine public speakers. The majority of these people were parents of children who were dealing with a variety of challenges including autism, auto-immune disorders, gastrointestinal disorders and more. It was clear to me that these people were in pain. The day-to-day challenges they faced raising children with special needs created stress and anxiety in their lives. I do not think that they are crazy. I think they are misguided. While the science has repeatedly shown no connection between these conditions and vaccines, they continue to channel their anger with their situation toward the only tangible demon they have – vaccination. While listening to them I heard many misinterpretations of science and the research process. They are angry and in pain and they want there to be a reason for the challenges that they and their children face.

As a mother myself, I can only sympathize with that. When unfortunate events happen we want to know why. What was the most disappointing to me were the four medical professionals among their group (one physician, one nurse practitioner and two registered nurses) who validated their inaccuracies by means of their credentials. 
Because of rogue medical professionals, these parents feel justified in blaming vaccination even though the evidence says otherwise. This brings me to my own statement before the committee.






Lori Boyle, RN, providing a pro-science, evidence based statement at February 2019 ACIP Meeting in Atlanta, GA.

My statement focused on the trust that the people of the United States have bestowed upon the profession of nursing as a whole. As the guardians of that trust, nurses have an obligation to adhere to evidence based practice. Anything short of that is a betrayal of that trust. I urged any nurses listening to remember their role as servants to the public and to adhere to evidence based practice and to join Nurses Who Vaccinate.

While there I had the opportunity to meet and speak with other advocates of evidence-based practice including members of the Immunization Action Coalition, Dr. Paul Offit Director of Pediatric Infectious Disease at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Karen Ernst founder of Voices for Vaccines, Dorit Reiss Rubinstein law professor at UC Hastings, Amy Pisani, Director of Vaccinate Your Family and a lovely docent at the David J. Sencer CDC Museum at CDC Headquarters who gave me a tour.

The whole experience was invaluable to me and I hope to be able to attend the meeting again in the future to remind both the ACIP and the public of Nurses Who Vaccinate and our devotion to the health and well being of the public that we serve.
Lori Boyle's Full Statement

My name is Lori. I am a mother of two fully vaccinated successful young adults and a registered nurse of 21 years, the last five of those as an advanced practice nurse. I am here today representing the organization Nurses Who Vaccinate. We are a grassroots organization that works to provide up to date accurate, science based information to the public and to our fellow health care workers regarding vaccination. I first became aware of misinformation regarding vaccination as I entered grad school at Rutgers. There I received a strong foundation in evidence based practice that has stayed with me to this day. It was disheartening to see so many people, including nurses, fall prey to sensationalist headlines and misinformation while I was learning to research and evaluate, evidence based medicine. I found Nurses Who Vaccinate while in grad school and through them found a way to share those critical thinking skills I was acquiring.  
My first job as an APN was with the largest infectious disease practice in the North East. While in that practice the need for sharing evidence based information on vaccines was reinforced. I saw young otherwise healthy college students in the ICU with flu, countless people with pneumococcal disease, people at risk of losing limbs due to meningococcal disease. Imagine my disbelief after caring for those people, then encountering nurses who refused the flu shot, or advised others against vaccinating based on misinformation?  
Nurses are the number one most trusted profession in the United States for 17 years straight. We have a duty and an obligation to adhere to evidence based practice. Anything short of that is a betrayal of the trust granted to us by the people of this country and diminishes the credibility of the profession as a whole. Nursing as a community has the ability to make a difference in this current climate of distrust that many of the public have with the medical establishment. The majority of us know the importance of adhering to evidence based practice. We understand that the vast preponderance of evidence world wide is in favor of vaccines as the safest, most effective means of preventing the diseases which they target. We can provide evidence based education to the public and our fellow healthcare workers to ease their concerns about misinformation that spreads like wildfire across social media.  
I urge my fellow nurses to join me in this endeavor to keep people healthy, reduce the spread of preventable diseases and become Nurses Who Vaccinate. 
I’d like to thank the Committee for their tireless hard work and dedication to the health and well being of people of the United States and for allowing me this moment to speak. Thank you.






 Lori Boyle, RN, MSN, AGPCNP-BC, WCC, CWS


Lori has been in nursing for more than 20 years. While in graduate school, she became aware of how many people were misunderstanding the science of vaccination and falling for misinformation. Since that time she has made it her mission to help people understand that the value and safety of vaccination as recommended, far outweighs the risks. In addition to Nurses Who Vaccinate she is also a member of Voices for Vaccines and the NJ Immunization Network.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Training the Next Generation of Vaccinators

 There has been a steady increase in the number of individuals affected by the influenza virus.  It has been estimated that 80,000 Americans died and 900,000 people were hospitalized for flu-related complications (National Foundation for Infectious Disease, 2018) this past year. Although older adults carry the heaviest burden for flu-related deaths, all ages can be impacted.
 
In preparation for the 2018 flu season, Clayton State University School of Nursing partnered with the Georgia Institute of Technology Health Services for their Flu Campaign. Professors Elicia Collins, Han Dong and Sue Gronka along with Dr. Victoria Foster took 20 second semester nursing students to assist with providing flu shots for the student body.

Over 2 separate visits, 1,120 students were immunized. The nursing students also did patient teaching regarding what to expect after being vaccinated. The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated each year for influenza.

 
 
We at Nurses Who Vaccinate are tremendously proud to share the accomplishments of these nursing students and their mentors.

Are you a nursing student yourself looking for more information on influenza and vaccines? Check out what the
American Nursing Association has to offer for education. "There are many elements of immunization that nurses need to know. From the correct anatomical sites for giving injections, to the increasingly complex immunization schedule, to knowing where to file a Vaccine Adverse Event Report, to the way that vaccines work in activating the immune system, there's a lot to learn and remember! Through continuing education courses, fact sheets, videos, and webcasts, this ANA page offers nurses a variety of educational opportunities to increase their immunization knowledge and competency."

Still looking to get your flu vaccine? You can visit http://vaccine.healthmap.org/ to find out where flu shots are available in your area. Talk to your doctor or nurse if you have any questions regarding which flu vaccine is best for you and your family.

And when you get your vaccine... send us your selfie! Like past flu seasons, we'll be collecting and sharing your #FluShotSelfie (with your permission) on our social media pages.

Send it to us on our Facebook page, email it to us (NursesWhoVaccinate@gmail.com),
or tag us on Instagram and Twitter at @NursesWhoVax.

We look forward to sharing everyone's efforts to protect themselves and others from influenza. Be safe this season!
 


FLU SEASON HASH TAGS



Thursday, August 16, 2018

Nurses Who Vaccinate Announces Partnership with Shot@Life

 
In honor of National Immunization Awareness Month, Nurses Who Vaccinate, a non-profit organization, announced their official partnership with the United Nations Foundation’s Shot@Life Campaign.  This partnership will provide network of nurses and members who are enthusiastic and engaged, and connect them with Shot@life's mission to stand up for children around the world. It will expand the efforts to champion global childhood immunizations through grassroots advocacy and awareness raising activities.


“As a long time supporter of Shot@Life, Nurses Who Vaccinate has worked side by side S@L to raise awareness of the need for children everywhere to receive life-saving vaccinations,” said Melody Butler, BSN, RN, CIC, Executive Director of Nurses Who Vaccinate. “As public health advocates, Nurses Who Vaccinate members encourage patients, colleagues, and communities to learn about, advocate for, and provide access to immunizations.  Becoming an official partner with Shot@Life to build global awareness of the need for childhood immunizations, fits naturally within our mission.”


NWV members meet fellow S@L Champion Jo Frost
Despite great advances, worldwide each year, 1.5 million children still die from vaccine preventable diseases.  Shot@Life and Nurses Who Vaccinate will work together to stand up for childhood and give children everywhere a shot a healthy life. The two organizations believe that no matter where they live, every child deserves a shot at life.






Shot@Life, a campaign of the United Nations Foundation, educates, connects and empowers individuals to champion global vaccines as one of the most effective ways to save the lives of children in developing countries. The campaign rallies the public to advocate and fundraise for global childhood vaccines. Shot@Life believes that by encouraging people to learn about, advocate for, and donate to  vaccines, we can decrease the 1.5 million annual vaccine-preventable childhood deaths and give every child a shot at a healthy life. Go to www.ShotAtLife.org to learn more.



NWV Members attend Shot@Life's Annual Summit

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Your Pregnancy: Protecting Your Baby Starts Now




National Immunization Awareness Month is a reminder everyone needs vaccines throughout their lives.

 

From the moment you found out you were pregnant, you started protecting your baby. You might have changed the way you eat, started taking a prenatal vitamin or researched the kind of car seat to buy. But did you know that one of the best ways to start protecting your baby against serious diseases is by getting flu and Tdap vaccines while you are pregnant?

 

The vaccines you get during your pregnancy will provide your baby with some disease protection (immunity) that can last during the first months of life after birth. By getting vaccinated during pregnancy, you can pass antibodies to your baby that may help protect against diseases. This early protection is critical for diseases like flu and whooping cough because babies are at their greatest risk of severe illness from these diseases in their first months of life, but they are also too young to get the vaccines against these illnesses. Passing maternal antibodies during pregnancy is the only way to help directly protect them from flu and whooping cough (pertussis).

 


In cases when doctors can determine who spread whooping cough to an infant, the mother was sometimes the source. Once you have protection from the Tdap shot, you are less likely to spread whooping cough to your newborn baby.

 

When it comes to flu, even if you are generally healthy, changes in immune, heart and lung functions during pregnancy make you more likely to have a severe case of the flu if you catch it. If you catch the flu when you are pregnant, you also have a higher chance of being hospitalized. Getting a flu shot will help protect you and your baby.

 

You can rest assured these vaccines are very safe for you and your baby. Millions of pregnant women have safely received flu shots for many years and CDC continues to monitor safety data on flu vaccine in pregnant women.

 

The whooping cough vaccine (Tdap) is also safe for you and your baby. Doctors and midwives who specialize in caring for pregnant women agree that the whooping cough vaccine is important to get during the third trimester of each pregnancy. Getting the vaccine during pregnancy will not put you at increased risk for pregnancy complications.

 

You should get your whooping cough vaccine between your 27th and 36th week of pregnancy, preferably during the earlier part of that period. You can get a flu shot during any trimester. You may receive whooping cough and flu vaccines at the same time or at different prenatal care visits. If you are pregnant during flu season, you should get a flu vaccine as soon as the vaccine is available, by October if possible.

 

If you want to learn more about pregnancy and vaccines, talk to your ob-gyn or midwife, and visit https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pregnancy/pregnant-women/index.html.

CDC, 2018 National Public Health Information Coalition

 

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Member of Nursing Community Speaks up Against Violence towards Pro-Vaccine Healthcare Workers

I became an advocate of ending healthcare worker violence ever since I heard about Nurse Alex. (Alex Wubbels, is the nurse who was arrested for refusing to let a police officer draw blood from an unconscious patient.)

So, when I came across this statement from Dr. Jim Meehan, an ophthalmologist, and an anti-vaccine advocate, and I was immediately horrified.








I had to speak up. I wrote Dr. Meehan a letter in an attempt to reach out peacefully and ask to discourage violence towards healthcare workers.


Dear Dr. Meehan

Your statement you recently wrote deeply concerned me. I feel the need to speak up.

Please don’t encourage violence towards healthcare workers. Please don’t threaten them. I understand that people get angry when a loved one becomes sick or disabled, but that is no reason to resort to violence or threats.

In light of what happened to Nurse Alex, all the nurses were outraged by her wrongful arrest and assault. They dedicated to defending her and making sure justice was served.

So please don’t incite violence towards healthcare workers. As someone who works in healthcare, please reconsider what you said. They don’t deserve it. I’m sure you wouldn’t like being threatened or assaulted either.

Thank you for listening. Peace be with you.


I have not received a response.

I saw that the blog link was shared on his Twitter page. I asked him kindly about discouraging violence towards healthcare workers. My response was met with a hostile remark:



Kate Doyle: “Please discourage pharmaceutical and medical assault on healthcare workers. Peace be with you.”
Jim Meehan, MD: “Please discourage pharmaceutical and medical assault children. Peace be with you.”


I am disgusted and disappointed that someone who is a healthcare worker seems so disregarding towards this topic. However, I do feel proud that I spoke up about this. I want to encourage all healthcare workers to speak up when someone talks like this, and threatened our fellow colleagues.

By sharing my story, I hope to bring awareness to the fact that there are social media users calling for violence against pro-science and pro-vaccine advocates.

We cannot tolerate this violent threatening behavior, especially when it comes from within our own community.
#silentnomore






Kate Doyle is a member of Nurses Who Vaccinate. She is currently a CNA, studying to be a RN, Army wife, and has two children.


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Friday, August 25, 2017

DO YOU HAVE A PRETEEN OR TEEN? PROTECT THEIR FUTURE WITH VACCINES.


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

Taking them to their sports physical, making sure they eat healthy and get plenty of sleep…you know these are crucial to your child’s health. But did you also you know your preteens and teens need vaccines to stay healthy and protected against serious diseases?

To celebrate the importance of immunizations for people of all ages – and make sure preteens and teens are protected with all the vaccines they need – Nurses Who Vaccinate joined with partners nationwide in recognizing August as National Immunization Awareness Month.

As they get older, preteens and teens are at increased risk for some infections. Plus the protection provided by some of the childhood vaccines begins to wear off, so preteens need an additional dose (booster) to “boost” immunity. You may have heard about whooping cough (pertussis) outbreaks recently. Vaccine-preventable diseases are still around and very real. The vaccines for preteens and teens can help protect your kids, as well as their friends, community, and other family members.








There are four vaccines recommended for all preteens at ages 11 to 12:

Meningococcal conjugate vaccine, which protects against four types of the bacteria that cause meningococcal disease. Meningococcal disease is an uncommon but serious disease that can cause infections of the lining of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) and blood (septicemia). Since protection decreases over time, a booster dose is recommended at age 16 so teens continue to have protection during the ages when they are at highest risk for getting meningococcal disease. Teens and young adults (16 through 23 year olds) may also receive a serogroup B meningococcal vaccine, preferably at 16 through 18 years old.

HPV vaccine, which protects against the types of HPV that most commonly cause cancer. HPV can cause future cancers of the cervix, vulva and vagina in women and cancers of the penis in men. In both women and men, HPV also causes cancers in the back of the throat (including base of the tongue and tonsils), anal cancer and genital warts.

Tdap vaccine, which protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough. Tetanus and diphtheria are uncommon now because of vaccines, but they can be very serious. Whooping cough is common and on the rise in the United States. It can keep kids out of school and activities for weeks, but it is most dangerous — and sometimes even deadly — for babies who can catch it from family members, including older siblings.

Influenza (flu) vaccine, because even healthy kids can get the flu, and it can be serious. All kids, including your preteens and teens, should get the flu vaccine every year. Parents should also get vaccinated to protect themselves and to help protect their children from the flu.



You can use any health care visit, including sports or camp physicals, checkups or some sick visits, to get the shots your kids need. Talk with your child’s health care professional to find out which vaccines your preteens and teens need. Vaccines are a crucial step in keeping your kids healthy.

Want to learn more about the vaccines for preteens and teens? Check out www.cdc.gov/vaccines/teens or call 1-800-CDC-INFO


The National Public Health Information Coalition (NPHIC) is an independent organization of professionals sought after to improve America's health through public health communications.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Why Nurses Need to Advocate for Patients to Recieve Chickenpox Vaccine

Nurses, do you have unpleasant memories of getting the chickenpox when you were young? Some of us may remember having an uncomfortable rash, staying home from school for a week, and trying not to scratch the scabs. Some may even remember the oatmeal baths that did not work as promised.

Many nurses were told that "It is a rite of passage" because all of their friends got it—It was just "part of growing up." With chickenpox being as contagious as it it, it was no wonder so many caught it. One child can spread it to another from 1 to 2 days before they get the rash until all their chickenpox blisters have formed scabs (usually 5-7 days).

But, now, our patients don’t have to suffer the way we did, because there’s a vaccine to protect them against chickenpox.


Before the chickenpox vaccine became available in 1995, nearly 11,000 people were hospitalized every year and about 50 children died. The disease can cause serious complications, even in healthy children. These complications include skin infections, lung infections (pneumonia), swelling of the brain, bleeding problems, blood stream infections (sepsis), and dehydration. In Pakistan, 2017 has brought at least 17 deaths from chickenpox, and the year is only half way. Earlier this year, a 6 year old girl died enroute to a London hospital from complications associated with varicella. 

“The most important thing to remember is that we cannot predict which child will get a serious case or have complications from the chickenpox,” explained Dr. Stephanie Bialek at the CDC. “The chickenpox vaccine is very safe, and about 90% of kids who get both recommended doses of the chickenpox vaccine are protected against the disease. Therefore, we recommend that children get vaccinated.”

CDC recommends pediatric patients receive the first dose of the chickenpox vaccine at age 12 through 15 months old and the second at age 4 through 6 years. Some children do get the disease even after they are vaccinated, but it’s usually milder. Children who get chickenpox after vaccination typically have fewer red spots or blisters and mild or no fever. The chickenpox vaccine prevents almost all cases of severe disease. If a patient has only received one dose in the past, check to see if they can qualify for a second dose.

Have an adult patient questioning whether they should get the varicella vaccine? All adults who never received the chickenpox vaccine and never had the chickenpox should receive the vaccine. If they are unsure about their vaccine statues, it's recommended by experts that they receive the vaccine. Adults who are at higher risk of exposure should especially consider vaccination. They include healthcare workers, college students, teachers, and daycare workers. 



Nurses need to be strong advocates in encouraging patients and families to vaccinate for chickenpox. A strong recommendation can go a long way in preventing unnecessary suffering and even death.

If you have questions about the childhood immunization schedule, you can find more information about vaccines here. Looking for more information about chickenpox? Click here.