Wednesday, April 30, 2014

How Can Healthcare Providers Stop the "Invisible Threat?"

In an effort to draw attention to the national launch of the Invisible Threat movement on May 1st,  Nurses Who Vaccinate is participating in a Blog Relay. Each day a different blogger will be discussing their personal perspective of the film as part of our 10-day countdown to a kick-off event with national legislators at the Capitol Visitors’ Center in Washington, DC.  Visit the Vaccinate Your Baby Facebook page for links to each blog post and visit the Every Child By Two website to find out how you can join us this movement, arrange for a local screening, and continue our fight against infectious diseases.

Along with diagnosing and treating patients, healthcare providers have an additional role- educating. When you're a public health advocate, your patient will not always be the sick child in the waiting room or an elderly gentleman admitted to the telemetry floor- your patient will include the general public and will involve people diffused throughout the spectrum of health. From teenagers to teachers, from parents to politicians, public health professionals need to work hard to educate all members of their communities about the current health topics, safety issues and prevention. 

One population frequently overlooked are politicians. We cannot assume that the ones responsible for legislation of health and safety initiatives are up-to-date with the current medical information that we healthcare providers have. It is obvious that legislation is responsible for shaping the healthcare policies in this country. Seatbelt laws, smoking age restrictions and the Affordable Care Act are among the many examples of politicians playing a role in public healthcare. It's our responsibility as healthcare professionals to make sure that we are focusing efforts to keep our legislators accurately informed about important health issues.

Take the topic of immunizations. Like the public, politicians can fall victim to vaccine misinformation and vote accordingly and negatively influence the public. We need to step in and educate before these mishaps occur. 
According to Sheila Abood, PhD, RN:
"Nurses are in a unique position to share their expertise and knowledge when meeting with power players to educate them, to urge them to action, and to hold them accountable when their positions and voting records don’t match their rhetoric. Nurses, as providers and consumers of healthcare services, have professional and personal experiences regarding the problems and possible solutions to share with policy decision makers. It is expert power that allows nurses to bring their knowledge of nursing, healthcare, and patient safety to bear directly on the promotion and achievement of their policy goals."

How can we educate politicians effectively and efficiently? By bringing the information to them. Health organizations such as Every Child By Two and Voices for Vaccines, have taken an active role in educating our legislators. An important upcoming event involving the documentary Invisible Threat is a great example of public health advocates taking a pro-active approach to spreading the word about the importance of vaccinating. ECBT personally invited Members of Congress to the national launch of the Invisible Threat movement on May 1, 2014 at 10:00 AM at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center. Following the film, they will host a panel discussion with leading experts in the field of immunizations to discuss how the resurgence of deadly vaccine-preventable diseases can affect communities and how to help combat the spread of dangerous misinformation about vaccines. 

What is Invisible Threat? ECBT explains, "The Invisible Threat film focuses on understanding the science of vaccination and the misperceptions leading parents to delay or decline life-saving immunizations. This 40-minute independent documentary, produced by award-winning high school student filmmakers, has earned praise from more than 50 organizations, including the CDC, AAP, Texas Children's Hospital, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Mayo Clinic, and Johns Hopkins." You can view the trailer here.

Healthcare professionals such as Doctor Paul Offit from the Vaccine Education Center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, in Pennsylvania has publicly endorsed and encouraged the public to view the documentary. Medical organizations all over the nation are wowed by this powerful, student driven documentary and they want EVERYONE to see it.

The efforts don't stop with ECBT and the organizations supporting the national screening. The next step falls to you, the healthcare professional. We need you to take a moment to contact your key legislators (Phone numbers and email addresses for Members of Congresson the invitation list to ask them and their staff to attend the Invisible Threat film screening and expert panel on May 1st at 10 a.m. Let them know that this event is important to you because deadly vaccine preventable diseases such as measles, mumps, meningitis, pertussis and influenza continue to threaten your community

How else can you make a difference? 

  • Hospitals (general or children’s)
  • Elementary, middle and high schools (a sample curriculum is available at
  • Elementary schools
  • School nurses
  • Colleges and universities
  • American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) chapters
  • American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) chapters
  • Immunization coalitions (search
  • Film interest clubs
  • Parenting groups, such as Mommy and Me or Gymboree classes
  • Pediatrician Offices
  • OB-GYN Offices
  • Prenatal classes

3. Get involved with the Invisible Threat Community via social media!
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Follow and catch up with the organizations supporting Invisible Threat Blog Relay

By working together and educating each other, healthcare professionals and politicians can team up to protect children from vaccine-preventable disease and win the fight against deadly misinformation.

***Join us for an Invisible Threat Twitter Chat, Wednesday, 4/30 from 7-8pm ET.***

With The Invisible Threat student documentary officially launching date on May 1 at the Capitol Visitor Center, you can show your support for the students by joining the Invisible Threat Twitter Chat, Wednesday, 4/30 from 7-8 pm ET.  

Not only will you have the opportunity to ask the filmmakers questions about the project but we encourage you to also share your favorite resources that address vaccine hesitancy.

Just follow #InvisibleThreat and please share with your networks.

***Follow along with TwitterChat!***


Abood, S. (January 31, 2007). "Influencing Health Care in the Legislative Arena". OJIN: The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing. Vol. 12 No. 1, Manuscript 2.

Additional information and materials can be found here.

Please send your support to these students and for Invisible Threat! Read, personalize, and send this email to the the student filmmakers.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Interview with Outbreak News/ The Global Dispatch

In a recent episode of Outbreak News on The Global Dispatch, founder of Nurses Who Vaccinate, Melody Butler, RN, was interviewed by Robert Herriman. She spoke about the need for pro-vaccine nurses to speak up, why she formed the organization, how to handle vaccine hesitant parents and her views on Jenny McCarthy.

Check out the Global Dispatch website for more information!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Dear Jenny McCarthy

Dear Jenny McCarthy,

We just read your latest column post for the Sun-Times Splash section and we would like to know why it took you so long to clarify your position on vaccines. While we at Nurses Who Vaccinate are glad to hear you aren't anti-vaccine, your views and opinions still leave us concerned that you continue to misunderstand how vaccines work.

Vaccines today are the safest they've ever been. Technology allows us to use less antigens to promote an immune response and utilize combination immunizations to decrease the number of administrations. They save lives around the world everyday, yet if parents are scared away from using them, children will be left vulnerable to vaccine-preventable diseases and suffer unnecessarily.

While we understand the concern that the schedule appears to be a one size fits all, that isn't how the immune system and vaccine schedule work. Your concern is a common misconception based on misunderstandings about how vaccines work and about the schedule itself.

According to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, "vaccines and drugs aren’t distributed in the body in the same manner. Medications must be distributed throughout the bloodstream to have the desired effect, so dosing is determined by body size. This is similar to the effects of a glass of alcohol on a large man compared with a small woman. In contrast, vaccines work by introducing cells of the immune system, known as B and T cells, to the parts of a virus or bacteria that cause disease. These cells are typically “educated” near the site the vaccine is given. Once they are equipped to recognize the agent that causes illness, they travel throughout the body." Vaccines Today provides a quick video that explains the vaccine schedule compared with the antigens an infant encounters everyday of their life.

The vaccine system is tailored to meet the needs of the pediatric population. The doses are calibrated and spread out over a course of a year to help develop the lifesaving antibodies. Some vaccines are held until the child's first birthday. Illnesses, allergies, age and health conditions all influence whether someone is able to get a vaccine. In fact, the published immunization schedule for children from birth through 18 years of age is four pages long and is supported by a 64-page document on general recommendations as well as vaccine-specific recommendations. Are you worried about 'too many vaccines, too soon?' Well rest assured, health organizations such as Every Child By Two and The Academy of Pediatrics address this concern and provide information that demonstrates that the recommended vaccine schedule does not overwhelm children's immune systems.

It seems as though you still have many questions about vaccines and can benefit from a real one-on-one discussion with a qualified health care professional. As nurses we thank you for taking the first step in ridding your reputation of the 'anti-vaccine' label, you are not the first and hopefully not the last. However, for the safety of your son, and those who continue to look up to you for parenting and health information, please continue your journey by contacting a pediatrician and or an immunization coalition in your area. You can even contact us- we'd be more than happy to answer your questions.

Good luck with your son and stay well.

Nurses Who Vaccinate

This open letter is a response to Ms. Jenny McCarthy's column post from April 12, 2014 in the Chicago Sun Times-

More information from CHOP on "One Size Fits All" Misconception-

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Nurses Who Vaccinate Celebrates National Public Health Week!

     Public health is one of the most important aspects of modern medicine. Public health is so important to the health and vitality of our nation that an entire week is devoted to raising awareness! This week, we celebrate National Public Health Week by recognizing the importance that each person plays in maintaining overall community health and wellness.

      Public health refers to the art and science of keeping large populations of people healthy and disease-free through preventative measures such as hand washing, the use of condoms and vaccinations. In a message celebrating National Public Health Week 2014, President Obama stated that “all Americans deserve to lead a healthy life and achieve their full potential.”

     In order for all Americans to live productive, healthy lives it must be recognized that public health maintenance is not just the responsibility of health care workers, but is very much dependent upon the choices and behaviors of everyday people. When a father makes sure that visitors wash their hands before touching his newborn baby, and asks if they have had their yearly flu shot, he is contributing to public health by stopping the potential transmission of a deadly disease such as influenza. When a young adult makes the choice to use a condom every time, he decreases the chances of developing a sexually-transmitted disease such as HIV and potentially infecting others. When a mother makes the choice to follow the recommended vaccine schedule for herself and her children, she not only protects the family unit from preventable illness, but she also protects others around her by contributing to community immunity. When at least ninety-nine percent of a population is vaccinated, herd immunity remains intact and the incidence of preventable diseases such as measles and meningitis remains extremely low.

     When individuals fail to recognize the importance of their individual health choices in maintaining overall public health, such as choosing to forgo the necessary vaccine schedules without medical necessity, diseases and infections previously under control can quickly reemerge. The recent news reports of outbreaks of measles, pertussis (whooping cough) and meningitis are examples of preventable public health issues which were directly caused by the choices of a few individuals whose choices affected entire communities. As world travel increases, diseases previously referred to as endemic, or localized to one region of the world, now have the potential to become pandemic, or to spread across nations. Public health outbreaks in one small corner of the world can quickly evolve into worldwide problems in just a matter of weeks.

     It is up to each one of us to make smart, educated health choices for ourselves and contribute to the overall wellness of our communities, our country and our world. We as individuals can make the difference between public health outbreaks and public health wellness. It’s not only vital to recognize the importance of public health this week, but every week! Josh Billings once said, “Health is like money, we never have a true idea of its value until we lose it.” Don’t ever forget the value of public health! Happy National Public Health Week!

Nurses Who Vaccinate is a proud partner of 2014's National Public Health Week! 

Additional Information:
President Obama’s full Message regarding National Public Health Week 2014

Join healthcare provides and public health advocates on Wednesday, April 9, from 2-3 p.m. EST for APHA’s fourth annual NPHW Twitter Chat! This is an opportunity to engage with other public health advocates and discuss important issues related to public health system transformation. Follow NPHW @NPHW to learn more about the 2014 Twitter Chat and other NPHW events!
Use the hashtag #NPHWchat to join the conversation.

Angela Quinn is a registered nurse in New York City. She is passionate about public health, patient safety and patient education. Angela volunteers with organizations like Nurses who Vaccinate to contribute positively to the world of nursing.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

World Autism Acceptance Day

Nurses need to keep up-to-date with nursing research and evidence-based interventions that are implemented with patients. In light of today being World Autism Acceptance Day, Nurses Who Vaccinate is featuring information concerning patients with autism or autistic spectrum disorders (ASD). Nurses must be strong advocates for children and adolescents with ASD, and this requires knowledge, patience, and time. Here are a few websites, continuing education opportunities, organizations and associations that highlight the importance of nurses understanding the difference of care an autistic patient requires and provide important information.

Caring for Children and Adolescents With Autism Who Require Challenging Procedures (Pediatric Nursing) 
Article features behavioral strategies, holding techniques, and pain management.

"Providing nursing care for children with autism or autistic spectrum disorders (ASD) can be challenging. As part of a larger study of 62 children with autism ages 3-8 years that required difficult procedures, strategies were developed for providing care that incorporated theories and knowledge from the disciplines of nursing, child development, psychology, applied behavior analysis, and pain management. Applications of these strategies are illustrated through the process of a physical exam, phlebotomy, and intravenous (IV) insertion during a health care visit. The nurse can develop a plan of care to achieve the goals of the visit and optimize the quality of the care for the child and family. Interventions presented can be individualized to each child."

Caring for autistic children in emergencies (Contemporary Pediatrics)
Article provides resources for ASD-sensitive care

"The most critical experts to consult regarding the care of a child with ASD are the child's parents or caregivers. They likely have dealt with this and similar situations before. They tend to know what works well with their child and what doesn't. Parents usually know which words, actions, or stimuli calm and help their child and which have the opposite effect. They can also function as an interpreter, informing you of the significance of the child's actions and behaviors, translating what the child is trying to communicate, and helping you to convey your messages to the child. It is well worth taking a few minutes to ask the parents about their experience caring for their child—what works, what doesn't, and how comfortable they are caring for their child."

Environments and autistic spectrum conditions (Nursing Times)
Article educates on  the sensory differences of people with autistic spectrum conditions,  how healthcare settings can overload the senses and  steps nurses can take to reduce service users’ distress

This article highlights the sensory differences and needs of people with ASC, and the impact that failure to understand these differences can have on them and those around them. It outlines nurses’ roles in assessment, planning, intervention and management of the environment.
Five Important Points
~People with autistic spectrum conditions (ASC) may find the sights, sounds, smells and touch sensations of healthcare environments particularly distressing
~Modifications to the environment can help to reduce this distress
~Finding out what affects a person is important
~Nurses can make simple changes, such as altering lighting and closing doors quietly
~Some service users may benefit from deep touch pressure, such as the use of weighted bed coverings

Comparative Effectiveness of Therapies for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality)
A Powerpoint Presentation that is based on a comparative effectiveness review titled, Comparative Effectiveness of Therapies for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders,that is available online at CERs represent comprehensive systematic reviews of the literature and usually compare two or more types of treatment, such as different drugs, for the same condition. This CER included 159 unique studies.  

10 Tips on How to Communicate with Autistic People (Autismum)
While these issues will vary from person to person this blog features tips written from the perspective as an autistic person. As the author states, "This is just a guide." But it gives great insight to how our patients feel. 

Support ASAN -
Autistic Self Advocacy Network 

The Autistic Self Advocacy Network is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization run by and for Autistic people. ASAN’s supporters include Autistic adults and youth, cross-disability advocates, and non-autistic family members, professionals, educators and friends. ASAN was created to provide support and services to individuals on the autism spectrum while working to educate communities and improve public perceptions of autism.

Nurses with an interest in this specialized area of nursing can pursue the title of Certified Developmental Disabilities Nurse offered by the Developmental Disabilities Nurses Association.
An intellectual/developmental disability (IDD) nurse is a person, who by the virtue of special knowledge, training, and experience, is uniquely able to inform, motivate, guide, assist, and care for individuals with IDD.
In this process, it is the primary responsibility of the IDD nurse to be able to recognize which problems are beyond the scope of his/her training, skill, or competency and to be willing and able to refer the individual to other appropriate professional services.
The professional activities of the IDD nurse will, out of necessity, cover a broad range of approaches, techniques, and modalities appropriate for the infinite variety of characteristics that include the lifestyle and developmental levels of individuals with IDD.

Interested in earning this certification and association? You can read more about the qualifications for certification and how to apply for the exam by clicking here.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Superheros of Nursing - Founder of Nurses Who Vaccinate- Named the Protector!

Excerpted From Mosby's Suite- "Superheros of Nursing: Melody Butler Named the Protector!"

Melody Anne Butler, BSN, RN, is a multi-tasker. She is a pediatric nurse, working the night shift at Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in Lindenhurst, N.Y. While raising four small children, she completed a bachelor’s degree in nursing and is working toward becoming a certified pediatric nurse. During an interview for this story, she kept an eye on her children while finishing the laundry. Add to all of this that she is also a staunch supporter of vaccine advocacy, creator of a vaccine advocacy site, and a champion of the United Nations campaign to immunize children around the globe. “If I’m not constantly doing something,” she says, “there’s something wrong.”

Because of her efforts to make evidence-based information about vaccines available to nurses and the general public, Melody has been named The Protector in Mosby’s Suite search for the Superheroes of Nursing. The Protector stands strong and ready to step in at a moment’s notice to keep everyone safe in the pursuit of outstanding care. As a vaccine advocate, Melody is all about protecting everyone. “When you advocate for vaccines, you are protecting everyone, including those who can’t be vaccinated,” she explains. “Nurses who vaccinate themselves are protecting themselves and their patients. It’s a very big deal.”

Read more of the interview at the website!
Originally appeared on Mosby's Suite, March, 19th, 2014