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Partnership Spotlight: Rebecca Hendricks & The End-FLUenza Project

Rebecca Hendricks is the founder of The End-FLUenza Project and a community partner of WithinReach through our Immunization Action Coalition of Washington. Rebecca was recently featured in the Los Angeles Times, and she took some time to sit down with us to answer our questions and share her story for this Partnership Spotlight.

Pictured left is Rebecca Hendricks with picture of Scarlet receiving a Flu vaccine at an End FLU-enza event.

 

 

Your website mentions that you were motivated by the loss of your daughter Scarlet to create this foundation, can you tell us a little more about your daughter and how she inspired you to start the Fight the Flu Foundation (now The End-FLUenza Project)?

On December 19, 2014, my 5-year-old daughter Scarlet Anne died. She died from the flu. However, it wasn’t until later that I found out her cause of death was the FLU!

When Scarlet was in the hospital, I was told she had Pneumonia. It wasn’t until 2 weeks after her death did I find out her actual cause of death was flu and there was no sign of Pneumonia in her lungs according to the Medical Examiner. Although, no answer will ever be OK- I felt like pneumonia was easier to accept than flu. I had never heard of anyone dying from flu; I thought my child was the only child on the face of this earth that ever died from flu. I couldn’t wrap my head around how a person could die from just a bad cold… I just couldn’t.

Scarlet at the dentist the day before she passed away

The whole situation happened so suddenly, less than 48 hours. I replayed each day leading up to her death and most of it just didn’t make sense. Literally, the day before she died she was racing me to the door of her dentist office, for her check-up. Then the next moment, I’m sitting there, wondering what I’m going to do with my life? What am I going to do without my first girl? My middle child. My tiny dancer.

Scarlet was fearless. The moment she made an entrance in to this world, she made a statement. Even at just 5, she was passionate and didn’t give up anything without a fight. I feared what each day held for me going forward without her. But it was reflecting on my Scarlet, and how her dreams excited her and how she knew with every ounce of her being that she could be whatever she wanted to be, that gave me strength during my time of grieving. Nothing was just a dream to her. I learned from losing her that being courageous wasn’t the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.

If all medicine was 100% effective, my daughter would be alive today. But while no medicine works 100% of the time, any percentage of effectiveness is better than none. I wish someone had told me what I was up against. Perhaps, my daughter would still be living fearlessly singing ‘Royal’ to the top of her lungs in my living room if she had gotten the flu vaccine. 

What would you tell a fellow parent who also had never vaccinated or was on the fence about the flu vaccine?

I never vaccinated my family against flu. Quite frankly, I never even gave it second thought. I wasn’t against vaccination. I just didn’t think the flu was deadly like some of these other diseases my children got vaccines for. There were times I had my doubts about the vaccine due to hearsay. So, I decided to learn more about the flu, what it is, how to recognize it, how one gets it and especially, how to prevent it. After lots of reading, research, coffee dates, and phone calls with people like Suzanne, founder of Ladybug House and Cindy Smith from the Pierce Co Immunization Coalition and Christine from Every Child by two–I came to a few conclusions.

1.) My daughter was NOT the only child on the face of this earth who died from flu and in fact, it’s quite common for children and adults, sadly, to die from the flu and it’s still a threat every year.
2.) Vaccination is the best way to protect your children, yourself and your loved ones.
3.) People needed to know the flu can kill you but you can protect yourself.

I was so compelled and eager to tell everyone to get more informed about the flu risks. I wanted to start knocking on doors right then. I needed to get this important message out- and the people that needed to hear it, weren’t looking for it. It was in that moment I decided to create the Fight the Flu Foundation, now named The End-FLUenza Project.

Scarlet Anne

It didn’t take long for the organization to establish a nationwide campaign around flu awareness — The Flu Hat Campaign. This campaign became an avenue for several moms with similar experiences as myself to find our place/ our purpose in this world after such tragic loss. The Flu Hat campaign gives us an opportunity to share our lost loved ones story and let everyone know they were real humans and the Flu was their cause of death. Through sharing our stories we were educating parents on protecting their vulnerable new baby from flu.

Can you tell me a little more about what The End-FLUenza Project is and what it does?

The End-FLUenza Project is a national organization who’s mission is to empower families within communities through education and awareness- to make informed decisions on preventative measures they can take to protect against influenza.

The Flu Hat Campaign is our major year around campaign. Our concept involves creating opportunities for flu education, by distributing hand-made baby hats to new mothers. These “made with love” hats are packaged inside bags, along with flu awareness/ educational materials. The baby bag also includes a story of a child who has either been affected by the flu or lost their fight to the flu. With our stories, we give parents a chance to make an informed decision with the information we presented in their ‘made with love’ mother bag. You can follow the campaign on social media through the hashtag: #ProtectEveryoneAroundYou

Of course, the key component of this campaign has been procuring the large number of hats needed. We are fortunate and grateful to have enlisted many wonderful volunteers specifically for this particular task. Generous and caring people from all over the world have been contributing their time (and yarn) to crochet or knit hats for us. The organization has received hats from as far as India! We are so thrilled to have delivered over 11,000 hats to 45 different hospitals in 26 states!

Nigel Turner and Rebecca Hendricks at Walk to Fight the Flu 2016

We also launched our annual Walk to Fight the Flu. This family fun, vendor and educational event brings the community together for an exciting day of shopping, games, music, raffles, the 5k walk, most importantly— our flu clinic! We offer NO COST flu shots to the entire public! Thanks to local pharmacies and our very own Medical Reserve Corps. This event is working its way to each state, we add a new state each year. This year will be our 3rd year. We will have Washington, Massachusetts and New York!

How is The End-FLUenza Project connected to WithinReach

Not only am I the founder of The End-FLUenza Project, but I am also now an active leader within the Pierce County Immunization Coalition as the Community Education Chairman. While there are so many reasons people don’t get a flu shot- it is my tireless life journey to present factual information, share the precious lives of those affected by the flu. And most importantly, I want to empower each individual I come in contact with to make an informed decision on their lifestyle actions to protect themselves and everyone around them.

Rebecca with daughter Scarlet

All pictures generously provided by Rebecca Hendricks.

Tags: Flu Hat Campaign   IACW   immunizations   Partner Spotlight   Rebecca Hendricks   The End FLU-enza Project   

Giving Every Child a Shot at Life

I recently had the opportunity to attend the Shot@Life Champion Summit, a gathering of vaccine advocates from across the country who come together each year to learn about the crucial role the U.S. plays in supporting global immunizations. Advocates also learn the powerful impact of advocacy through trainings and meetings with Congressional offices on Capitol Hill.

Shot@Life, a campaign of the United Nations Foundation, aims to ensure that children around the world have access to life-saving vaccines. The campaign works to build a group of Champions (advocates), who will dedicate their voices, time, and support to standing up for childhood in developing countries.

At the Summit, I heard from several Champions who are experts in the areas of vaccines, global health, and international development. The most powerful speaker for me was Geeta Rao Gupta, a senior fellow at the UN Foundation who has worked to improve the lives of women and girls around the world. She focused on the value of vaccines for women, and not just in the obvious ways, like preventing cervical cancer. “When we talk about the statistics of infant mortality, we rarely talk about grief,” she said. She shared the heartbreaking story of her great-grandmother, who died of tuberculosis in her early thirties after losing five of eleven children in their infancies. I don’t think many of us living in Washington today can imagine how painful these losses must have been for her. And while it can be easy, in our day-to-day work, to focus on the numbers and rates, it’s a powerful reminder of why those numbers and rates matter. Dr. Gupta reminded us that vaccines don’t just “save lives” – they prevent grief, and allow mothers to focus their energies on caring for healthy children.

Dr. Gupta emphasized how fortunate we are to live during the age that we do, with advancements in vaccines and general health. However, developing countries are still in need of these valuable resources. And where vaccines could prevent an estimated 2.5 million deaths among children younger than age 5 around the globe, 1 child still dies every 20 seconds from a disease that could have been prevented by a vaccine. Therefore, the U.S. strives to provide access and education around vaccines through a variety of ways. Did you know the U.S. Centers for Disease Control is key in leading worldwide efforts to eradicate polio and measles? Or that USAID is a key partner of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, which creates immunization access for the world’s poorest countries, immunizing half a billion children? Even the U.S.’s contribution to UNICEF helps save lives, as they deliver vaccines to 45% of the world’s children. The U.S. is a leader in providing vaccine assistance globally, as well as here at home by providing funding to various organizations working at the community level.

Being a local organization that promotes immunizations, our work at WithinReach is also part of a global community. We’re reminded of that every year, as American travelers bring back vaccine-preventable diseases from across the globe. “Disease anywhere is disease everywhere” with our interconnected world and the ease of travel. Diseases that have been long rare at home are still prevalent in many other areas of the world. That is why it is important that we advocate and create awareness around vaccine-preventable diseases through our community members, our partners and state leaders. If you’re interested in learning more about how you can help every child have a shot at life, check out shotatlife.org.

Tags: childhood immunizations   Community Health   global health   immunizations   Shot@Life   vaccines   Washington state   WithinReach   

New frontiers in vaccine hesitancy research: a border-spanning collaboration

An exciting project is taking shape at WithinReach. After nine years of extraordinary work in the vaccine hesitancy field, Vax Northwest is embarking on a new project, and we’re doing so with new partners—
a wide range of researchers from, or interested in, the midwifery community who come from both the United States and Canada.

Midwives are a very influential group of health care providers. Midwives attend 8.3% of births in the United States [1], but their knowledge, attitudes and beliefs about vaccines have not been robustly studied. Likewise, we know very little about the people who seek care from the midwifery community. In our attempt to engage as many leverage points as possible in building vaccine confidence, Vax Northwest has elected to focus on the midwifery community.

On January 10th, more than 20 researchers and practitioners from the fields of midwifery, naturopathy, allopathic medicine, public health, pediatrics, and anthropology, among others, came together at WithinReach to define a research agenda related to midwives (and other perinatal providers to a lesser extent). We had a rich and varied conversation that culminated in three research questions that Vax Northwest and our partners will address going forward:

    1) What are the knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs of midwives toward vaccines? (Are they advocates of vaccines?
    Do they want to be advocates of vaccines? What support is needed to become better vaccine advocates?)

    2) What are the characteristics of people who seek midwifery care? (Are they more likely to be vaccine hesitant? Are they dissatisfied with ‘traditional’ medicine?)

    3) What is the vaccination status of children in Washington, by the type of provider who attended their birth (midwife, physician, etc.)? Is there an association between provider type and immunization status?

“As an observer, it was a fascinating experience to listen to experts in various fields discuss current information and determine what new information is needed before deciding on specific research questions. Since the influence of the midwifery community on the decision to vaccinate children has not been studied, it will be exciting to see how these new research questions will help us better understand vaccine hesitancy” noted Cristina Cardenas, a WithinReach AmeriCorps service member, who participated in the meeting and has a special interest in immunizations.

Making policy, decisions, or interventions based off anecdotal evidence can be ineffective, or even worse, backfire. That’s why Vax Northwest has such a strong focus on creating a research foundation before we act. After several years of sharing the informative and well-received results of our previous research, we’re excited to be breaking new ground with this project and adding to the vaccine hesitancy research base. As always, we’ll do so in collaboration with the right partners with the goal of keeping all Washington families thriving and healthy.

Stay tuned for more updates!

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[1] https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr64/nvsr64_12.pdf

Tags: Canada   immunizations   midwife   midwifery care   research   vaccines   Vax Northwest   Washington state   

Vaccines Are Safe. Vaccines Are Effective. Vaccines Save Lives.

You may have heard in the news about the possible development – and the possible non-development – of a new vaccine safety commission by the executive branch. Vaccines have been proven to be one of the safest and most effective ways of preventing illness ever developed, and have saved the lives of hundreds of thousands. Their safety is paramount, especially because they are so widely used by healthy children and adults. But the creation of a federal commission on vaccine safety seems unnecessary because we already have a robust system to monitor and detect problems with the use of vaccines. The creation of such a commission would cast doubt on the use of these life-saving treatments and decrease utilization of vaccines, causing significant harm to individuals and the community at large. We stand with our partners in healthcare, public health, and many parents and community members when we say: Vaccines are safe. Vaccines are effective. And vaccines save lives.

We asked Neil Kaneshiro, MD, for his thoughts. He’s been a pediatrician in Washington for more than twenty years, and is currently serving as chair of the Immunization Action Coalition of Washington. Here’s what he had to say:

“As a practicing pediatrician, I have recommended, administered and personally used standard vaccines for over 20 years in thousands of patients and have not seen any reason to hesitate using vaccines when given appropriately according to national guidelines. If you really look at the data, there are far less significant adverse reactions to vaccines than to antibiotics given for ear infections or pneumonia. The diseases prevented through the use of vaccines are not as well-known now because of our preventive effort, but they are real and can return with a vengeance if immunization rates wane. Few people today remember the fear parents had that their healthy children might contract polio and suffer in an iron lung machine. You just don’t see that anymore precisely because of vaccines. Rumors and conspiracy theories are rampant on the web, but the scientific evidence is clear that vaccines are safe and effective and they do save lives. We need to do everything we can to promote increased use of vaccines and not scare people away.”

Promoting trusted sources of information about vaccines is crucial. Read what the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians have to say in response to the recent news on vaccines. 

Tags: federal commission on vaccine safety   immunizations   vaccines   

What’s new with the HPV vaccine?

You may have heard that the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices approved a 2-dose HPV vaccination series, a change from the previous 3-dose series. This recommendation was immediately adopted by the Centers for Disease Control, meaning the 2-dose series is now the official recommendation nationally.
This news is especially exciting because Washington State has struggled to bring up our HPV vaccination rates, and eliminating the third dose should greatly improve our overall rate of teens fully protected from HPV. Though there are some details that health care providers need to be aware of, if an adolescent starts/started the series before age 15, and it has been at least five months since the first does for those who already started the series, they’re good to go with two doses.
The exciting implication of this change is that it makes everything simpler. Adolescents, who do not typically have routine primary care appointments as often as younger kids, will have to schedule one less visit to their health care provider—meaning parents won’t have the hassle associated with a provider visit, either. Adolescents particularly don’t love shots, so poking them one less time is appealing for all involved as well! The costs of time away from work and school, transportation, etc. will also be reduced. We’re also optimistic that the chance to be fully protected by only two doses will motivate more parents to have their children immunized at the recommended age, 11-12, rather than waiting until they’re older, when their immune response may not be as robust and they run a higher risk of already being exposed to HPV.
Why, you might ask, are we making the transition to a 2-dose series? Well…
  • Evidence shows that adolescents mount a particularly strong immune response to the HPV vaccine if it’s given early. After age 15, the response begins to be weaken, so 3 doses are still needed for those ages 15-26.
  • Previously, we only had robust research on a 3-dose series, but new evidence evaluating 2 doses is available and indicates long-lasting protection when it’s received through age 14. Two doses will protect younger adolescents just as much as three doses will protect older adolescents.

We encourage you, immunizer or otherwise, to spread the word about this change. We know that the clinical community will hear about this change via the usual channels, but word trickles down to kids themselves less quickly, so be a part of spreading the message! And remember, the most important talking point is that HPV prevents several cancers in both men and women—a cancer-preventing vaccine is one of the greatest gifts we can give to today’s adolescents.

Vaccines for children through 18 years old are free in Washington State, including the HPV vaccine. To find a health care provider, visit ParentHelp123.org or call the Family Health Hotline at 1-800-322-2588.

Tags: Cancer Prevention   HPV vaccine   immunizations   ParentHelp123   Washington state   

HPV Prevention in High School: A Guest Blog

Nathan Hale High School students Claire Furtick and Paul Tamura have been promoting the HPV vaccine in their school for the past couple of years. After being widely recognized and awarded for their efforts, we thought we’d feature them–in their own words–on our blog. 

Paul and Claire are juniors at Nathan Hale. Paul initially got involved when his mom asked him if he would support her in a public health panel sponsored by the Group Health Foundation, which focused on HPV awareness. Paul recruited Claire for the effort too, and their remarks were so well-received that after the panel discussion they were approached by public health nurse Lauren Greenfield from Public Health–Seattle & King County about an HPV campaign to be launched at six Seattle public schools, including Nathan Hale. Their history with this brilliant project is detailed below. Enjoy! -Todd

When we both agreed to be a part of this campaign (to spread awareness about the importance of HPV vaccine at Nathan Hale and get students immunized at the teen health center), we had no idea what to expect. But despite that, we both said yes for the same reason: we realized that this campaign was a way for us to help and have a positive impact on our community. Human Papillomavirus (HPV) cancers and disease have affected the lives of many people and will continue to if nothing is done, and if immunization rates in our state remain low. People have been looking for a cure for cancer for a long time, and the thought of finding one seems impossible. But what people don’t realize is we have something even better than that. We have a way to PREVENT cancer. And it’s right at our fingertips. The HPV vaccine is of great importance because it has the ability to save thousands of lives from future cancers. And our job is to make sure that people, especially our peers, understand this.

When we started the campaign, there was no plan to work off of, no template or outline of what we were supposed to do. We were basically winging it. At our first meeting with our advisor, she asked us, “What are your ideas? What do you guys want to do?” This was one of the best features of the opportunity; it was up to us to come up with ideas on how to run a successful campaign, and it was our ideas that mattered the most. This campaign taught us many important skills, including leadership organizational skills. Running into many obstacles, we’ve learned to be persistent in our goals. The biggest challenge, though, was always juggling this on top of schoolwork, sports, and other activities we do outside of school—especially since it was just the two of us.

As for the future of the campaign, we have high hopes and many plans. We plan to continue running the campaign at Nathan Hale, and this year hope to create an HPV Awareness Club at our school. The club will not only educate people on the topic, but also the group can help with certain projects throughout the year that are part of the campaign. We also hope to get speaking time at an assembly this year, and maybe do a schoolwide HPV awareness week. And of course, our goal every year is that more and more people at our school get vaccinated. Finally, as a more widespread goal, we hope students at other schools around the state take on the challenge that we have and raise awareness about HPV, and the vaccine that prevents certain HPV cancers and disease, at their schools.

It’s wonderful to see young people getting involved and speaking up for the health of their peers. Many thanks to Paul and Claire for their great work!

Tags: HPV   HPV vaccine   immunizations   Nathan Hale High School   Public Health   vaccines   

Get ready for the first annual Washington State Immunization Summit

Washington Immunization Summit

The immunization team at WithinReach is using its well-honed event planning skills on a new endeavor. On April 26, 2017, we will host the first ever (and hopefully annual) Washington State Immunization Summit at the SeaTac Conference Center. Guided by best practices nationally, we have decided to offer an annual summit for immunization stakeholders from any sector across the state. Continuing education credits may be available (see website for details).

So why are we doing this? Immunization is complicated; it is both a precise science and a complex social phenomenon, and the strategies needed to be successful evolve constantly. Washington leads the country in the immunization field in many ways (our hesitancy research, our cutting-edge HPV work, etc.), and this is yet another way that we want to support our state in taking the lead. In creating this summit, our goal is to offer responsive, cutting-edge immunization education to our partners. There is plenty of immunization education out there, but the content is usually pre-defined by the creators. In this case, we have been surveying our constituents about what they want and need from us. Three specific areas of interest emerged at the top of the list:

  • Vaccine hesitancy
  • The use of data and information systems to improve rates
  • Reaching underserved populations

While the agenda is still coming together, we are thrilled to feature our colleague Dr. Doug Opel of Seattle Children’s Hospital, who will deliver a talk on the intersection of ethics and vaccine hesitancy. If you’ve ever seen Dr. Opel live or read his work, you know how powerful he is as an educator. Also, Dr. Clarissa Hsu of the Group Health Research Institute will share preliminary results from a study Vax Northwest has commissioned that examines the attitudes and beliefs of families in Washington who are delaying or skipping vaccines. The Washington State Department of Health – Office of Immunization and Child Profile will lead an excellent session on the use of data and information systems to bring up rates. And an as-yet-undetermined session will focus on reaching underserved groups.

WithinReach is thrilled to offer this learning opportunity, and we are committed to making this part of our ongoing suite of services offered to Washington immunization professionals.

Interested? Good news! You can learn more and register today. Please spread the word widely.

Tags: continuing education credit   immunizations   vaccine hesitancy   vaccines   Washington State Immunization Summit   

Don’t Panic: Zika, the Summer Olympics, and You

If you only read this paragraph, here’s why the Olympics happening in the midst of Rio’s Zika outbreak shouldn’t worry you: First, Zika is primarily spread by two species of mosquito–known as Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus–that don’t live in Washington, so the chance that it could spread widely here is pretty close to nil. Second, for most adults it’s a pretty mild illness. Pregnant women need to be most cautious because their babies are at the highest risk of severe consequences.

If you travel anywhere impacted by Zika, like Rio or even Puerto Rico, you can prevent mosquito bites – and therefore Zika – by using bug spray (DEET, picaridin, IR3535, OLE, and PMD have been proven safe and effective). Just as important, wear clothing that covers your arms and legs, and “mosquito-proof” your accommodations by closing or screening doors and windows and/or using a mosquito net.

zika_protect_yourself_from_mosquito_bites

Zika is typically a mild illness in adults, marked by fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes. But it’s linked to a serious birth defect in newborns called microcephaly – an unusually small brain and skull. So if you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant, extra precaution is recommended, including postponing travel to impacted areas if possible. Because Zika can also be spread through sex with a man, always use a condom with a male partner who has recently traveled to an area with Zika (even if they’re not showing any symptoms). This may mean using a condom throughout your pregnancy, or waiting to conceive for at least eight weeks if your male partner has no symptoms of Zika.

Chances are, most of us in Washington won’t be exposed to Zika. So why should it matter? Well, our immunization team at WithinReach can think of a few reasons. It’s a good reminder that in an age of global travel, infectious diseases are only a plane ride away. Already, 15 cases in Washington have been confirmed among recent travelers (as of July 20th). Many of the diseases we vaccinate against are equally easy to import into Washington – and without the need for a vector, like a mosquito, they can spread much more easily when they do arrive. That’s why it’s so important to protect our communities through immunization.

Zika also has one thing in common with a disease we routinely vaccinate against: rubella. When a pregnant mom becomes ill with rubella, it can have terrible consequences for her developing fetus. In 1964, the U.S. experienced a huge rubella outbreak that affected 50,000 pregnant women and led to thousands of miscarriages and 20,000 cases of congenital rubella syndrome, in which babies are born with symptoms including blindness, deafness, heart defects, and cataracts. Now that we have the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine, very few American babies are born with congenital rubella syndrome – primarily only when their mother is infected during international travel. Sound familiar? With Zika, like rubella, we know that protecting pregnant women is our biggest priority. Hopefully, one day we will have a vaccine to help us do so.

So whether you enjoy watching the world’s top athletes compete in Rio or on your TV, have a safe and healthy summer! And if they inspire you to get out and be active, all the better – just don’t forget your bug spray.

Tags: CDC   immunizations   pregnant women   Rio   Summer Olympics   vaccines   Zika   

Partnering to prevent HPV

WithinReach has teamed up with the Group Health Foundation (GHF) for many years, but we recently began an exciting new partnership surrounding human papilloma virus (HPV) initiatives in Washington State. This partnership, which shows visionary donor practices from GHF, funds WithinReach to be a connection point for all 16 of the Foundation’s HPV grants in the State.  Recognizing the abysmal rate of HPV vaccine series completion (44% of females and 25% of adolescent males have completed the 3-dose series in Washington State), many organizations are working hard to bring up rates across the state—a lifesaving initiative that we are thrilled to support.

Using the extensive immunization network of WithinReach, our cutting-edge work surrounding HPV promotion, and our depth of knowledge in vaccine hesitancy issues, WithinReach staff review all funded proposals with an eye towards:

  • Connecting grantees to existing resources that will further their projects
  • Eliminating duplication of efforts
  • Creating partnerships between organizations with aligned goals
  • Encouraging organizations to attend our HPV Task Force or other immunization committees in the state

When WithinReach launched the HPV Task Force in 2015, we learned that many organizations were developing HPV initiatives, but there had been little communication between organizations, largely because there was no venue to do so and because HPV vaccination brings together organizations from seemingly disparate fields: immunization, cancer prevention, sexual health, and adolescent medicine to name a few. Having the HPV Task Force–and now the assurance that these organizations are collaborating–will make Washington a leader in HPV vaccination.

Here’s an example of an early success: Planned Parenthood wanted to pioneer an electronic signature process to easily obtain permission from parents to give their children the HPV vaccine.  WithinReach has long known that Public Health – Seattle & King County successfully uses a service called DocuSign for this very purpose. By putting the two organizations in contact, Planned Parenthood was able to mobilize quickly and follow an existing blueprint to make this service available.  Another success? All GHF grant-funded organizations are routinely meeting as a group outside of the HPV Task Force because they have found informal conversations about sharing resources and ideas helpful and productive.

And if you need a reminder of why the HPV vaccine is important, here are the pertinent details: All cases of cervical cancer, and a large percentage of other genital and anal cancers/warts and oropharyngeal (mouth and throat) cancers are caused by the HPV. The latest HPV vaccine protects girls from 90% of the strains that cause cervical cancer. Cervical cancer takes the lives of over 4,000 American women annually, and inflicts untold sickness and suffering on many more. The vaccine can virtually eliminate morbidity and mortality from cervical cancer.

WithinReach has been working with community partners for over 25 years to not just address health issues facing our community, but to actually create lasting change.  Partnerships like this one with the Group Health Foundation are essential to that goal.

Tags: Group Health Foundation   HPV   HPV vaccine   immunizations   Public Health   Washington state   

Congratulations to Washington’s Immunization Award Winners!

Every other year, the Immunization Action Coalition of Washington (IACW) recognizes people and organizations in our state that are truly going above and beyond to protect our communities from vaccine-preventable diseases. This year, we presented the awards at a special coalition meeting on April 20, during National Infant Immunization Week.

The 2016 IACW Collaborator award goes to the Auburn School District School Nurses, represented by Jan Schneider, Jill Olson, and Tami Petrina. Together with the district’s health technicians, they reduced the number of students in their district who were out of compliance (meaning their immunization paperwork wasn’t submitted properly) by two-thirds, from 852 to 295. These numbers represent countless hours spent researching immunization records and contacting students, parents, guardians, and health care providers. In one example of how far-reaching this work can be, when one student visited their health care provider to catch up on their immunizations, they also received a much needed eye exam and glasses. Thank you, Jan, Jill, Tami, and your colleagues for your hard work to ensure that Auburn’s students are protected from vaccine-preventable diseases.

Neil Kaneshiro, IACW Chair, with Becky Doughty of Spokane Public Schools

Neil Kaneshiro, IACW Chair, with Becky Doughty of Spokane Public Schools

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our 2016 IACW Advocate is Becky Doughty, Health Services Coordinator of Spokane Public Schools. She has worked diligently to coordinate, review, and update immunization records for each student in her district – a total of 35,000! Working closely with school staff, Becky achieved a decrease in kindergarten out of compliance rates from 24.6% to 0.9%. Additionally, she supported the development of pop-up clinics to provide immunizations to students in schools. In addition to her work in schools, Becky is founder and director of the Inland Northwest Transitional Respite Program, which provides shelter-based respite care to men and women experiencing homelessness. Typically, medical respite care involves acute and post-acute care for those too ill to recover on the streets, but Becky has ensured that preventive measures, including vaccines, also reach this very vulnerable population. She also implemented a program to ensure that all staff at the Respite Program are fully up to date with hepatitis B and influenza vaccines.

Neil Kaneshiro, Dr. John Dunn, and Janna Bardi of the Washington State Department of Health

Neil Kaneshiro, Dr. John Dunn, and Janna Bardi of the Washington State Department of Health

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, we partnered with the Washington State Department of Health to recognize Dr. John Dunn as the 2016 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion for Washington. Whether it’s appearing on local news segments, answering colleagues’ questions about vaccines, providing care to patients and their families, or serving on numerous local boards that make decisions about vaccines in the state of Washington, Dr. Dunn steps up to support vaccines. He serves on the Washington Vaccine Association, the Vaccine Advisory Committee, and the Vax Northwest Oversight Committee. He also chairs the Immunization Program at Group Health. In these positions, he ensures that policies and practices are in place to keep state immunization levels high. Through his research work at Vax Northwest, Dr. Dunn continues to learn about vaccine hesitancy and apply his findings to his everyday interactions with children and their families.

The work that Jan, Jill, Tami, Becky, and John do every day touches each of us – when we go about our daily lives in a Washington State that is safe from the diseases that vaccines prevent. Personally, I’m grateful for the opportunity we have at WithinReach to collaborate with, support, and recognize such fabulous partners!

Tags: IACW   immunizations   vaccines   Washington state   

MyIR makes accessing immunization records easy

When it comes to immunization records, most of us don’t realize how lucky we are to live in Washington State. When we get vaccinated, our vaccine history usually gets entered into our state’s immunization information system (IIS). This helps healthcare providers and school nurses track vaccine records. When you change healthcare providers, this database eliminates the need to transfer immunization records. Most healthcare providers enter vaccines into the IIS; ask if yours does and encourage them to if they don’t!

Now, you too can access your own and your child’s immunization records online through a portal called MyIR. It’s never been so easy to view and print your immunization records! It’s simple (and free) to sign up. The secure system even allows you to print out a pre-filled Certificate of Immunization Status (CIS), which is the form required for entry to schools and child cares, without an additional visit or call to your healthcare provider. This makes it so much more convenient to provide required immunization records. If your little ones are headed to camp this summer or starting school in the fall, try it out!

I signed up recently, and MyIR showed me that I’m due for a second dose of Hepatitis A vaccine – I got the first dose before some travel last year, and two doses are needed for full protection. Plus, now I’ll know when it’s time for that tetanus booster!

However, there’s one caveat: there may be some vaccines you or your family received that don’t appear on the immunization record in MyIR, such as the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine. HPV vaccine is sometimes given by a healthcare provider confidentially. Since MyIR doesn’t know which HPV vaccines were given confidentially or not, all HPV vaccinations are hidden on immunization records in MyIR. Contact your healthcare provider if you think you need a more complete record of your or your family’s immunization history.

You can get started today at https://wa.myir.net/.

Tags: immunizations   myIR   preventable diseases   vaccines   Washington state   

2016 Legislative Summary

Written by Carrie Glover, Senior Policy Manager

At about 11:00pm on March 29th the 2016 legislative session was adjourned. This year was a ‘short session’ that was mostly focused on writing a supplemental budget.

WithinReach did very well this session, including securing funding for an immunization validation tool and a school module within the Immunization Information System (IIS), which was our top priority going into 2016.  It was a great year of working with our partners in Olympia and we made real progress in breaking down barriers that prevent families from living healthy lives.

We also supported some additional issues as they emerged through session, and those also fared very well.  Below is a summary of the outcomes of our top priorities as well as other issues we supported this session that had successful outcomes.

Here is a brief summary of where we landed in the budget for our priorities:

Immunization Validation Tool & School Module within the IIS (budget only)

  • Budget ask: $511,000>
  • Final Amount funded: $511,000

Developmental and Autism Screenings for Medicaid (budget only)

  • Budget ask: Maintain current funding
  • Outcome: No cuts were made to the screenings

HB 1295: Breakfast After the Bell (budget and bill)

  • Bill: Require all high needs schools to offer breakfast after the bell
  • Budget ask: $2.692 million for startup grants
  • Outcome: Unfortunately the Breakfast After the Bell legislation did not pass this year.  Since the bill didn’t pass, the startup grants also were not funded in the final budget

Healthiest Next Generation (budget only)

  • Budget ask: fund staff positions at OSPI & DEL for this initiative
  • Outcome: Unfortunately this was not funded in the final budget

Other issues we supported that were successful:

HB 2877: Expanding SNAP Distribution dates

  • Bill: Expand the distribution dates for SNAP beneficiaries from the 1st through 10th of the month to the 1st through the 20th of the month
  • Budget ask: funding needed to implement the system change
  • Outcome: The bill passed with a great deal of support and $300,000 in funding was included for implementation in the final budget 

HB 2439: Mental health services for children and youth

  • Bill: Increasing access to adequate and appropriate mental health services for children and youth including establishing a workgroup to identify barriers in accessing mental health services, report on the status of access to services, expand the Partnership Access Line (PAL), and require coverage for annual depression screenings according to the Bright Future guidelines
  • Budget ask: funding needed for implementation of the workgroup, inventory of services, expansion of the PAL line, and the depression screenings.
  • Outcome: The bill passed, though with only the workgroup and inventory of services.  The PAL line was funded in the final budget even though it wasn’t included in the final bill.  Unfortunately the depression screenings weren’t funded or included in the bill.

SB 5143: Childhood Immunization Resources

  • Bill: Requires DOH to develop resources for expecting parents about recommended childhood immunizations.
  • Outcome: This bill passed with a great deal of support and some of our WithinReach staff were able to be at the bill signing with Governor Inslee.

 

Learn more about the guiding principles of our policy work.

 

 

Tags: Breakfast After the Bell   Developmental Screening   food stamps   immunizations   SNAP   vaccines      Washington state   

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