Vaccine Survey for Parents

Posted on: February 19th, 2013 by Edward No Comments

Dear Mom, Dad –

“Thanks for getting me all the vaccines I needed when I was a kid!”

–said No Kid Ever

Link to survey

OK. Let’s be honest. Vaccines are not the most exciting things to talk about in the world, but we all have to do it at a few points in our lives.  Most of us don’t even know where our own vaccine records are or when we’re supposed to get our next Tetanus booster.  But for those who will be or are fortunate enough to have children, the vaccine conversation is inevitable. It’s frankly unavoidable.  So that’s why I want to create the quickest and easiest guide through the maze of questions, advice, and concerns about vaccines.

On the scale of 1-10 (1 = no concerns, 10 = heck no), even as a strong advocate for vaccines, I would probably give myself a 3 when it comes to how worried I would be to vaccinate my imaginary children.  Sure, adverse events are super rare, but they can still happen!

My guess is that many parents vaccinate with little to no hesitation.  Some parents vaccinate with some hesitation.  And a few parents in our society elect to spread out their children’s vaccines or decide to avoid immunizations altogether.

I want to start by asking you, if you were or are a parent, what resources did you use to learn about vaccines? When did you start researching vaccines?  Who or what was the BEST resource that you found and always went back to? Fill out this survey so we can better serve you and other parents.

Vaccine Scheduling (part 2)

Posted on: April 28th, 2011 by Edward No Comments

The Immunization Action Coalition came out with their latest issue of Vaccinate Adults this week.  This publication is intended for HealthCare Professionals with updates on the vaccine schedule and other vaccine recommendations and guides.  As if the schedule wasn’t complicated enough already…  Though I am glad to know that the schedule is constantly being improved, I’m curious to know how these recommendations get distributed to the physicians of our country and how quickly these recommendations get implemented.  If anyone has any insight, please contact me through the comments section.

Here is an example of one of the updates in this month’s newsletter :

“CDC updates its recommendations for use of MCV4 vaccine in adolescents and adults.”

For Adolescents:

Data gathered indicates that the vaccine might not offer protection more than 4 years from the date of vaccination.  So a booster was added to the recommended schedule.

If a child received their first dose of MCV4 @ ages 11-12, then they will need a booster @ age 16.

If a child receives their first dose @ 13-15, then they also need a booster at ages 16-18.

No booster is needed for those who receive the first dose at or after age 16.

College Students:

1 dose of MCV4 to unvaccinated incoming college students ages 19-21.

Consider vaccinating currently enrolled unvaccinated college students in this age group

Give a booster dose of MCV4 to students younger than age 22 who are about to enter college if they received their most recent dose more than 5 years earlier

Consider giving booster doses to currently enrolled students who meet these criteria.

People with Risk Factors:

 

Administer 2 doses of MCV4 at least 8 weeks apart to people younger than age 56 who have the following risk factors: Persistent complement component deficiency, Functional or anatomic asplenia

For people with risk factors age 56 years and older, administer 1 dose of MPSV4.  Give booster doses every 5 years to people with these risk factors.

People with HIV-infection:

HIV-infected people ages 2 through 55 years who are in a group recommended to be vaccinated should be given 2 doses of MCV4 at least 8 weeks apart.

Goodness.  The schedule is not difficult to understand per se, but it sure does seem like a logistical nightmare to keep up with.  If the world of vaccines has this many conditions and changes, I can see how parents who are seeking to grasp how this vaccine schedule is created have a hard time wrapping their heads around it.  That’s why I really like the table summary (by risk group) that they provide in the “Ask the Experts” section.

 

Now, this table doesn’t solve everything or make it crystal clear for parents, but it sure does help.

Again, any insight into how this type of information goes through the uptake process with Providers would be greatly appreciated.

Vaccine Scheduling (part 1)

Posted on: April 26th, 2011 by Edward No Comments

Yesterday, I was able to shadow my friend who is a resident @ the Children’s Hospital in town.

At this particular pediatric office, they kept a few reference binders throughout the office space that included documents that the Providers would frequently check.  A few immunization pages were in the binder and they included the CDC recommended vaccine schedule along with the office’s more specific schedule to accommodate requests from parents to spread out their children’s shots. (Let me make it clear that they spread the shots out but still follow the CDC recommended schedule).  This is probably a normal practice given that the vaccine schedule provides large windows for certain immunizations and providers would rather group the vaccines to help with convenience.  Then again, it is important for health care providers to meet parents somewhere in the middle and still adhere to the schedule.  If one or two extra visits may help to allay fears and help bring families in, then I think it’s a great strategy.

Vaccine Schedule Difficulties

One of the difficulties of the vaccine schedule are the time windows vaccines have to be given in.  A lot of vaccines have a minimum interval between doses that are vaccine specific.  There are minimum ages and maximum ages for many of the vaccines as well.  How these providers keep up with this algorithm in their heads is beyond me…

Another difficulty with the vaccine schedule is when a child falls behind.  Despite the myriad number of reasons that could be the cause of this, the response by the provider is crucial.  It is a time-consuming process to create a customized vaccine schedule for a patient and it is important to get it right.  The catch-up schedule is a difficulty that the nurses and doctors nodded their heads to.

Different providers use different vaccine manufacturers, and if a child were to change providers (which is more common in today’s mobile society), then the vaccine type and vaccine brand name are important.  For example:

for the Hib vaccine, you can receive the HbOC/PRP-T (HibTITER, Act HIB) or the PRP-OMP (PedvaxHIB).  If the Hib series is began between months 7-11, 12-14, or 15-59, then there is no difference in the primary series.  If the Hib series is began between months 2-6 though, then the HbOC/PRP-T requires 3 doses @ 2 months apart whereas the PRP-OMP vaccine only requires 2 doses @ 2 months apart.  What if a family were to move when the child was 5 months old and the new provider didn’t know which vaccine the previous provider used?

Little nuances like these make the vaccine schedule difficult to keep up with.

Different Requirements

Not only can the vaccine schedule differ among physicians and providers, the requirements for institutions can also vary.  Schools in Texas have a minimum state vaccine requirement calendar that supersedes CDC recommendations. Universities may have requirements on just 2 or 3 vaccines as well. For a parent to have to comply with all of these different regulating bodies is confusing and intimidating.

Thoughts?

Thank You for Pledging! Now what?

Posted on: April 21st, 2011 by Edward No Comments

This is a little blog post EpiRen from Epi Times and I worked on to help provide some resources on what You can do in your community after you’ve pledged to vaccinate!

I. As an expecting or current parent

The parental instinct is by far one of the most powerful, most inspiring bonds between humans that I have ever experienced. My mother and grandmother, and even my aunts, have put themselves in mortal danger to protect their children. Well, when it comes to vaccines, no mortal danger is involved. However, it does take some work to make sure that the people around your children are immunized.

- Show your individual commitment to vaccines and let other people know: Much like some parents have “chickenpox parties” (which makes me cringe at the thought), think about having a party for the children in your neighborhood (or at your child’s school) who are immunized. Just like they give ice cream for tonsil removal, it doesn’t hurt to reward children for participating in a community-oriented activity like immunization. This is not to say that children who are not immunized for whatever reason are to be excluded. No! On the contrary, include un-immunized children and use the opportunity to…

- Educate your friends: Remember when you were going to buy a television, install a fence, or go to a movie? Remember how you asked your friends before doing those things in order to have a good experience? Friends look to us for advice and validation of their actions. We all do it. That’s why we need friends. Talk to the parents of un-immunized children as if they are your friends (if they are not already) and be frank about why immunizations are a good deal for the community. Just like you wouldn’t talk down to your friends, don’t talk down or use harsh words to parents who back away from immunization. Likewise, be kind and gentle to children who are not immunized. Remember, being un-immunized is not their fault if they are underage. Be frank but kind in your words. Offer evidence more than opinion, and always be respectful of their decision, even if it’s not the best one. As a mother, you want to do the best for your children, and that is a powerful message to get across. Use that as the jump-off point in your discussion.

II. As a part of the health workforce

“Health Workforce” — is defined as “all people engaged in actions whose primary intent is to enhance health”, according to the World Health Organization’s World Health Report 2006

“Researchers conducted a national survey of 1,552 parents of children aged 17 and younger, and found that 76 percent said they trusted their child’s doctor ‘a lot’ when it came to getting information about vaccine safety.  Other sources trusted ‘a lot’ by parents included other health care providers (26 percent) and government vaccine experts/officials (23 percent).” (Doctors Most Trusted Source of Vaccine Information, Study Finds)

New parents need their health workforce as much as babies need their new parents.  Everyone has heard the stories of paranoid parents taking their children to the emergency room with low-grade fevers or the first signs of a rash.  This probably isn’t going to change.  What can change is their perception of vaccines.

- Show your individual commitment to vaccines and let other people know:
Write a letter to your patients discussing vaccines.  (Here’s an example I found: CA Family Doctor’s Letter To Patients On His Children’s H1N1 Vaccine Shots)  Think about hosting a informational session for the patients of your practice to come in and listen.  Take a picture of the group and put it on your website, send it into the CDC, or send it to me!  Think about posting the vaccination rate of your practice or your employees so that people know you practice what you preach.  Be transparent.
Educate your co-workers and then your patients.  You and your co-workers have a more penetrating influence than friends and family.  Make sure that all of you are on the same team and are fighting the same fight.

- If you are a part of the health workforce and your employer doesn’t actually administer vaccines, you need to keep up with vaccine ACCESSIBILITY.  Families in the lower socioeconomic status brackets especially struggle with knowing where to go for vaccines and how they are going to pay for them.  You don’t need to know all of the eligibility criteria for Vaccines for Children (I don’t…), but you need to know where these resources are.  I’ve created a google map for the area around the Dallas Metroplex of all of the Dallas Area immunization clinics. Clinic name, addresses and phone numbers are provided so people can contact them with any questions.  I don’t think that the families I run into are going to use the google maps, but if they ask me, I can find out for them.  (map of immunization clinics around Dallas, TX)

III. As part of the community

When a disaster occurs, it is not uncommon to see communities come together and help those affected by the disaster. During the September 11 attacks, people in New York helped each other get away from the dust and debris while other members of the community suited up and ran into the disaster zone. When a flood is imminent, it is not uncommon to see community members get together to put up sandbags by the riverbed. Such examples are replicated time and time again.

Do we have to wait for a disaster to help each other? Not when it comes to vaccines. Just like those folks putting up sandbags, getting vaccinated is your individual effort at putting up a buffer zone of immune people around those who cannot be immunized. (This is the concept behind herd immunity.) Like with sandbagging, the effort is best if it is coordinated among large groups of people.

It really doesn’t take being a community activist to organize something at a community level. One suggestion is looking at health care organizations and volunteering with them at immunization drives. Local health departments need help during their annual influenza vaccine clinics. (Have you seen the number of people in line? Do you have a better idea of how the process can be more efficient?) There are plenty of other organizations that need your assistance in the form of time or monetary donations. Here are some:

-Families Fighting Flu
-Meningitis Foundation
-Polio Foundation


http://blog.myvaxines.com/2011/04/21/pledge-to-vaccinate/

Dallas Start-up Leads Pledge to Vaccinate campaign

Posted on: April 21st, 2011 by Edward No Comments

Start-up company MyVaxines has launched the Pledge to Vaccinate campaign in conjunction with the observance of National Infant Immunization Week, which is taking place April 23rd – April 30th.

MyVaxines founder, Edward Chao, says that his website is a tool for families who have made the decision to vaccinate.  The website provides online information and services that assist individuals in forecasting and managing their family’s immunization records in accordance with the CDC recommendations that doctors use, and it’s free.
“The pledge is an opportunity,” says Chao, “to unite the voices of individuals and families who have decided to immunize and to protect the community on a local, state, and national level.”  The pledge states that signees will ensure that their vaccines are up to date and that they will encourage family and friends to be vaccinated as well.

During National Infant Immunization Week, volunteers from Immunize Kids – Dallas Area Partnership will distribute educational materials on vaccines to expecting mothers at hospitals and provide outreach at women’s centers throughout Dallas.  Volunteers will also distribute registration forms for ImmTrac, the secure, confidential electronic system for the Texas Immunization Registry maintained by the Texas Department of Health.

“We are currently in the midst of a measles outbreak in Minnesota, a whooping cough epidemic in California, and a flu season that has taken 95 children’s lives across the nation as of today.  The Pledge to Vaccinate will help draw a tangible wall around our community against these vaccine-preventable diseases,” says Chao.

Interested parties can pledge to vaccinate at myvaxines.com

Contact:
 Edward Chao

President, 
MyVaxines LLC

echao@myvaxines.com

3030 LBJ Freeway Suite 105

Dallas, TX 75234

Phone: 972-887-8018 

Trust

Posted on: April 13th, 2011 by Edward No Comments

MyVaxines is brand new and one of the most important steps to connecting with my target market is to build trust.

I don’t really know how to build trust over the internet, but I’m going to try to tell you a little bit about me and why I started this website.  Hopefully you will see a passion and a purpose to what I am doing, genuineness and integrity in how I do it, and perseverance through the whole process.  I will tell you things about my own character that are irrelevant to why your aunt should use MyVaxines, but hopefully you will get to know me as I would love the chance to get to know you – the students, the new parents, the healthcare workers, the supporters, and even those who don’t appreciate this website.

My name is Ed Chao and I am a follower of Jesus above all other labels.  The objective of this website, MyVaxines, is to help people; I want to help people from a convenience standpoint by making it easier to retrieve vaccine records.  I want to help people from an education standpoint by chewing the CDC recommended vaccine schedule down to a more digestible manner.  And I want to deliver vaccine records to help people with convenience once again.  I choose to pursue promoting vaccines because I believe that they save lives in the physical sense and give opportunities to children that would otherwise succumb to deadly diseases. Regardless of someone’s stance on vaccine safety issues, they are for the most part, entitled to make their own decisions though they do have a direct impact on the community.  I believe that I am producing a product that will help mostly the people who have already decided to vaccinate.

I hope MyVaxines is a tool that helps serve you and in some way, helps to protect your family and your community. If you’re still reading, I share this with you because I want you to know the type of person behind the words and behind the computer screen who has poured hundreds and thousands of hours into this website.  Different people have different motivations for the work that they do.  My motivation is Jesus and I just want to be forthright with any future users of this website.

I am an epidemiologist.  I received my Master degree in public health from Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health and worked for two years as a research analyst for the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE).

In 2008, at the first conference that my employer sent me to, I learned about the low immunization rates of freshmen entering high school in Georgia.  The number was something like 19% of incoming freshmen entering high school had received all of their CDC recommended vaccines.  I was bewildered by this low number and researched a little bit into why the number was so low.  It wasn’t very long before I realized that the vaccination schedule was really intense for infants and fairly intimidating and confusing even for someone who studied public health and has a science background.

With today’s technology people are able to manage everything online – finances, car maintenance, bills, credit cards, etc.  I wondered to myself if it would be useful to be able to place immunization records online and deliver them to those pesky institutions that need to see them.  Schools have transcripts for our grades.  This would be like a vaccine transcript, I thought to myself.

The world of vaccines is complicated, and there is a lot more controversy surrounding vaccines than I could have imagined.  The safety of vaccines was in question and parents were confused!  I won’t go into defending vaccines here or discuss in depth the protection necessary for the vulnerable among our communities, but I have certainly learned a lot about vaccines since I started this journey and seen how history repeats itself.

Disclaimer:

I have no affiliation with any pharmaceutical company.  I don’t even know how I’m going to generate revenue yet.  But I do plan on generating revenue and that’s why I’m not a non-profit.

Walking the Walk

Posted on: April 13th, 2011 by Edward No Comments

I had to find a new primary care doctor since moving back to Dallas last September.  I had busted my shoulder on a snowboarding trip and the ER doc said I should follow up with a primary care doc when I got back.  I took this opportunity to see if I needed any immunizations.  I needed my tetanus booster but unfortunately their office didn’t have any.  They told me they would have some shots in next week.

Fast forward to today, I went back to the doc for a follow-up on my shoulder and thought I’d check to see if they got any tetanus boosters in.  They did and so I got the shot with no increase to my co-pay (I believe that insurance companies have to pay for wellness and prevention services such as immunizations since the new Affordable Care Act was passed last year).

I asked if they could register me for ImmTrac (the Texas Immunization Registry which recently opened its coverage to adults as well).  Unfortunately, the doc looked a little confused (as if no one has ever asked this question before in the entire lifespan of his practice) and then said he would check with the nurse.  He returned and said that they weren’t set-up to do that there.

I walked away knowing that MyVaxines is more necessary than not, at least in this doctor’s office.

Pledge to Vaccinate

Posted on: April 13th, 2011 by Edward No Comments

This pledge is an adaptation of a Letter to the parents and residents in the Gallatin Valley from 46 physicians in the community.

—————————————————————————————–

We pledge that it is our responsibility to come together to encourage our fellow community members to protect all children from communicable disease that remain a real and present threat.  The low rate of childhood immunizations in certain parts of our country present a public health problem that increases the risk of serious disease outbreaks.

We pledge to educate the parents in our community who are skeptical about the safety or effectiveness of vaccines.  While we sympathize with those concerns, we stand together now to say the following:

-          Vaccines are among the safest, most effective medical advances ever developed

-          The health benefits of vaccines far outweigh any perceived safety concerns.  The scientific evidence in this regard is clear.

-          Vaccines continue to protect us from diseases that can re-emerge to cause widespread epidemics.

-          Everyone in the community benefits from the immunity derived from vaccines, and each time a parent makes a conscious choice not to vaccinate, they are chipping away at that immunity.  They are putting their own child’s health at risk, as well as the health of every child in the community.

We understand that there can be some anxiety and confusion about vaccines.  We hear the concerns and we sympathize.  But we would not be doing our part if we did not push back to dispel myths that we know are not based in science and fact.  We know, for example, that careful and reputable scientific researchers have found no link between autism and vaccines or vaccine preservatives[1].  A 1998 medical article that initially suggested such a link was retracted[2], and the doctor who published the research was stripped of his medical license for unethical behavior[3]. Still, some continue to make this an issue.

 

Instead of fearing vaccines, remember the terrible toll exacted by the diseases that can now be prevented by vaccines.  We must not forget that prior to a vaccine, pertussis (or whooping cough) killed an average of 4,000 Americans per year. Before a vaccine was developed, diphtheria killed up to 3,000 people every year in the U.S. alone[4]. These diseases have not disappeared, they are being held at bay by vaccines. In 2010, California reported 8,383 cases of pertussis, which included 10 infant deaths[5].  California state health officials declared a widespread epidemic. Diphtheria killed more than 4,000 people during the 1990’s after the Soviet Union dissolved and mass vaccination programs failed[6]. Those deaths were preventable.

We pledge to vaccinate now because we believe that vaccines, and our community’s willingness to unite behind a comprehensive immunization effort, are crucial to preventing disease outbreaks in our community in the future. Our entire community benefits from successful vaccination efforts; and our entire community can be put at risk if those efforts fail. For these reasons, we urge you to vaccinate your children, for their health and for the health of our community.

Sincerely,

You

[4] Roush S, Murphy M. Historical Comparison of Morbidity and Mortality for Vaccine-Preventable Diseases in the United States. JAMA, Vol. 298 No 18, Nov. 14, 2007.

[6] Vitek C, Wharton M. Diphtheria in the Former Soviet Union: Reemergence of a Pandemic Disease. Emerging Infectious Diseases, Vol 4 No. 4, Oct. to Dec 1998.