Tag Archives: vaccine safety

New IZ Programs: States’ Patchwork of School Vaccine Requirements

31 Aug

Medical science marches on. That’s why vaccine requirements change. A national body, known as ACIP, makes recommendations based on the latest science.  State governments also enact laws to protect the public’s health. Case in point:  California’s new Tdap law for 7th-12th graders. But we also know that other vaccines, like meningococcal, are recommended for preteens and teens, but not required. What gives?

Lone Star State Adopts New Meningococcal Vaccine Requirement

It turns out, every state sets its own school requirements.  So, while a hand-full of vaccines are recommended for adolescents, whether you can get into school without them varies by state and by school.

Setting a new standard, Texas passed  the first state law (honoring a teen meningitis survivor Jamie Schanbaum) to require that every college student get the meningococcal vaccine. No vaccination, no classes! But most states don’t have this across-the-board requirement. Check out this video featuring college students’ attitudes about meningitis. It raises the question:  Will those at-risk feel compelled on their own to get vaccinated? Maybe or maybe not.

Still in Discussion: Meningococcal Vaccine for infants

Currently, meningococcal vaccine is only recommended starting at age 11. Is the disease a threat to younger children? There certainly are tragic cases.

This summer, the CDC embarked on an unprecedented period of public comment to ask parents directly what they think about vaccinating younger children against bacterial meningitis. It’s the first time the CDC is putting weight on public opinion as well as the science when it comes to making a new vaccine recommendation.

Our democratic society often gives us predicaments. Do we continue to mandate vaccines for the greater good based on scientific expertise, or should we open this up for public debate? While those with strong feelings may not have medical expertise, some do have devastating personal experiences to draw on.  Tyler’s story and Jessica’s story are just two examples of families who saw how bacterial meningitis ravaged their young children.  And, perhaps they, like Jamie Schanbaum of Texas, will add to the weight of the science.

What do you think? Should we leave science to the experts to make recommendations? Should anyone be able to comment on public health laws? Do we wait for states to amend their vaccination laws one at a time or is there a better way? Voice your thoughts.


Reasons to Immunize and the Balancing Act

27 Jul

Vaccine safety continues to be a source of worry for over half of American parents. What do they worry about? Take a look at this incredibly creative 2-minute video from the BYU College of Nursing entitled “Reasons to Immunize.”

The creators based their work on speaking with scores of parents who had questions or concerns about vaccinating their children. The messages are easy to grasp. When people say “a picture is worth a thousand words,” you might see this during the part where the risks of diseases are balanced against the common vaccine side-effects. You can’t put everything into a 2-minute video, but you can create an impression.

If you’re looking for more detail, the science journal Nature recently featured a story evaluating the real risks of vaccine safety. Even if you’re short on time, check out the image on page 3. It’s another great example of illustrating the relative risks and benefits of getting vaccinated. When it comes to weighing pros and cons, we owe it to ourselves to consider the very real risks of NOT getting vaccinated: getting a serious disease.

Part of the fear comes from the (incorrect) assumption that everyone is worried—so that becomes our new “normal.” That’s what’s great about the i choose campaign.  i choose gives a forum for regular people to show that they’re happy about their choice to vaccinate.  The balance of opinions online and in the media doesn’t always reflect the actual balance of attitudes out there.  And going back to the “reasons to Vaccinate” video, portraying a more accurate “balance” of information sure seems helpful. If you’ve yet to submit your own i choose poster, consider it as a fun summer project!

How do you weigh risks and choose facts over fear? Don’t be shy, share your thoughts! Until the next blog, enjoy a healthy and fun summer!