Social Media: A Guide to Sharing Responsibly

Social Media has become a large part of our daily lives. Sharing factual content plays an important role in combatting vaccine misinformation.

Here are some best practices and tips to make sure what you’re consuming and sharing is accurate and helpful.

vaccine misinformation

Click here to view our social media policy.

Tetanus and the Vaccines that Prevent It


Measles, Whooping Cough, and now Tetanus… vaccine-preventable diseases have been popping up in the news more and more with alarming ramifications.

Take the recent case of Tetanus reported in Oregon where a six-year old boy spent 47 days in intensive care battling the disease.

After cutting his forehead while playing on a farm, the boy began to exhibit common symptoms of Tetanus: muscle spasms, involuntary arching of his neck and back, and a clenched jaw. Soon, he was struggling to breathe, and his parents called emergency services.

Doctors were told that the child was unvaccinated and quickly administered the vaccine in an attempt to reverse the effects of the disease. It took 57 days in the hospital for him to recover and the costs were astronomical; the hospital bill totaled $811,929, excluding the cost of air transportation, inpatient rehab, and follow-up costs.

Tetanus, also known as lockjaw, is a serious disease caused by a bacterial toxin that affects the nervous system. After the bacteria invades the body, it produces a poison that causes painful muscle contractions, particularly in the jaw and neck muscles. Itcan interfere with the ability to breathe and can be life-threatening

Tetanus vaccines have been available in the US since the 1940’s and has proven widely effective. This was the first case of pediatric Tetanus reported in Oregon in more than 30 years.

To prevent Tetanus, the CDC recommends the DTaP vaccine for infants and children younger than seven and Tdap or Td for anyone older including teens and adults.



Are you a pediatrician or family practice physician interested in continuous learning and professional development?

Recognizing the efforts of physicians who strive to improve their day-to-day practice of medicine, The HPV: Don’t Wait. Vaccinate! Project is a Part 4, Performance in Practice Project diverse requirement approved by the American Board of Pediatrics and the American Board of Family Medicine. The project’s goal is to increase participating physician’s 1st dose HPV vaccine rate for eligible females and males ages 9-21 by 25% during a 6-month period

While HPV vaccination rates are on the rise, just over half of U.S. teens were up to date on HPV vaccination in 2018 and nationally, HPV vaccination rates continue to lag behind the other recommended adolescent vaccines. Only about half of girls and even fewer boys across the nation are receiving the HPV vaccine, while almost 90% of teens are receiving their MCV4 and Tdap vaccines. Both the CDC and the Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices recommend each of these vaccines be given to teens at 11 or 12 years of age.

Why Participate in HPV MOC?

The discrepancies between the rates tell us that providers are missing opportunities to administer the HPV vaccine. Because these vaccines can be administered on the same day, to increase HPV vaccine rates, providers should recommend all three vaccines “in the same way and on the same day.

To encourage better dialogue with parents about the importance of the HPV vaccine, physicians that participate in the HPV MOC will receive a resource toolkit adapted from evidenced-based information from CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics and developed by the Indiana Immunization Coalition.

For additional information about The HPV: Don’t Wait. Vaccinate! Project including completion criteria and fees, or to register, visit our HPV MOC guide.

The HPV Vaccine for Adults

HPV Vaccine for adults

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a common virus that can cause several types of cancer in both men and women. Fortunately, there is a vaccine that has proven effective in the prevention of HPV and HPV-related cancers, but until recently, the recommended schedule for immunization was for children and young adults aged 9 to 26.

However, an HPV vaccine for adults is now available. In October 2018, the FDA approved the use of the Gardasil 9 vaccine for women and men between 27 and 45 years of age. This vaccine prevents certain cancers caused by nine types of HPV.

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the U.S. The CDC estimates that 79 million persons are infected. An estimated 14 million new HPV infections occur among people between 15 and 59 years of age, and about 4,000 women die from cervical cancer caused by certain HPV viruses each year. With the approval of the Gardasil 9 HPV vaccine for adults, we have the power to drastically reduce these figures.

Based on US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention numbers. Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said, “HPV vaccination prior to becoming infected with the HPV types covered by the vaccine has the potential to prevent more than 90 percent of these cancers, or 31,200 cases every year, from ever developing.”

The safety of the HPV vaccine for adults was evaluated in approximately 13,000 males and females. The most commonly reported adverse reactions were injection site pain, swelling, redness and headaches.

For more information about HPV, visit our HPV resource library.

Coverage for the Gardasil 9 HPV vaccine for adults varies, contact your insurance provider to see if you are covered.

Flu Shot Facts for Patients

flu shot facts

When it comes to the flu shot, healthcare providers have heard all the excuses:

The flu shot gives you the flu.

I’m healthy; I don’t need a flu shot.”

I got it last year.

It doesn’t always work.

Trying to convince patients to get their annual flu shot can be challenging. Here are some flu shot facts to help you meet that challenge and encourage your patients to get vaccinated against the flu

Flu Shot Facts

Can the flu shot give you the flu?
No. Flu vaccines are made with either ‘inactivated’ flu viruses that have been killed and therefore are not infectious, or by using a single gene from a flu virus. The single gene produces an immune response without causing an infection. However, an immune response can cause mild symptoms such as achy muscles or a low-grade fever.

Do healthy people need to get a flu shot?
Yes, even healthy people should get a flu shot. The flu virus can spread quickly from others up to six feet away and even from surface contact. To avoid influenza and to protect yourself and your family, the CDC recommends everyone over the age of six months get the flu vaccine annually.  

I got a flu shot last year, why do I need it again?
Flu virus strains change over time, and new vaccines are produced continuously to combat them; that’s why it’s vital to get vaccinated for each flu season. In addition to that, your body’s immune response to vaccines declines over time, so staying current on your vaccines is vital to your health.

The shot doesn’t always work, so why bother?
For the 2017-2018 flu season, the CDC estimates that the vaccine was about 40% effective; however, this number only measures the risk of being diagnosed with the flu, it does not take into consideration how getting the flu shot can reduce the severity of symptoms.

According to Dr. Grein of Cedars Sinai, “data shows that the flu shot not only reduces your risk of getting the flu but can also significantly reduce how sick you get. Overall, people who get the flu shot but still get the flu have shorter symptoms and are much less likely to be hospitalized or suffer serious complications.”

Flu season typically begins in October and peaks between December and February. The CDC recommends getting the flu vaccine by the end of October. Use the flu vaccine finder to locate an Immunizer near you. 

Tdap MOC

tdap moc

Are you an OB/GYN interested in continuous learning and professional development? Continue your cycle of lifelong learning by taking part in the Tdap Maintenance of Certification.

Sponsored by the Indiana Immunization Coalition, the Tdap During Pregnancy Project’s aim is for participating OB/GYNs to increase their rate of Tdap for pregnant patients in their third-trimester by 25% during a six-month period.

Participants will keep a daily log tracking the number of pregnant women in their third-trimester who visited their office and the number who received the Tdap vaccines. By submitting the data monthly, OB/GYNs taking part will meet their annual Improvement in Medical Practice (Part IV) MOC requirement.

The Tdap vaccine is recommended during the third-trimester to protect infants in the first few months of life from tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis. Before the vaccine was available, approximately 200,000 children would contract pertussis each year and 90,000 would die from it.

For more information about the Tdap MOC and what you can do to improve the health of newborns, contact Indiana Immunization Coalition.

How to Encourage Young Adults To Keep Vaccinations Up-To-Date

vaccinations up-to-date

As teenagers prepare to finish high school and head off to college, they have a lot of things on their minds – vaccinations, probably aren’t one of them.

It’s vital for young adults to understand that Mom and Dad may not remind them anymore of which vaccines they need to stay healthy, and it’s up to them to be responsible for their own well-being. That’s where their healthcare provider can help.

Young adults may believe that they only need to go to the doctor when they are sick or hurt, so it’s important to chat with them about what vaccines are recommended for their age group and why. As their healthcare provider, you can help them transition to a healthy adulthood.

Dr. Karla Loken of Henry County Hospital agrees. “Please make your patients aware of vaccine preventable diseases and the availability of life saving vaccines in your office today. No one wants to meet you in the ER and here that their illness was preventable!

When speaking with young adults about vaccine schedules, sharing facts and stories about the importance of vaccines can be more effective than simply telling them to get a shot. Hearing about the consequences of not being vaccinated may be a more persuasive tactic. Also, teach them about herd immunity and how by vaccinating themselves, they’re keeping thousands of others who cannot be vaccinated safe. By staying up-to-date with their own immunizations, they’re helping to keep their entire community healthy.

Making it easy to get their recommended vaccinations is a further incentive. Try offering convenient hours and walk-in appointments. If getting their flu-shot or MenB vaccine is hassle-free, they are far more likely to get vaccinated.

Be open, be honest, and let them know that by getting vaccinated, they can help keep themselves, their family, and their community healthy for years to come.

Recommended immunizations for adults by age:

Days to weeks, months, or years?

Originally published on Cervivor

Erica Frazier Stum lost her battle with cancer on December 27, 2018. Erica is survived by her husband JR and her son Wylee.

I was first diagnosed with early stage cervical cancer in October 2012; I was only stage 1b2.  I was supposed to have a surgery and be finished with cancer.  It was supposed to be a one-time concern, no chemo, radiation, or additional treatment.  I was supposed to be okay.  Guess what?  Things don’t always work out the way they are supposed to.

In 2014, I had my first recurrence.  The doctor was optimistic we could treat the cancer and get rid of it, if we attacked it aggressively.  So, I went through multiple types of chemo and external radiation.  I had a PET scan which showed I was cancer free.  I could go back to my life.  However, that was short lived.  Three short months later I had a routine follow up scan and we found that the cancer was back and had metastasized.

In 2015, when I was diagnosed with my second recurrence, it was deemed that I was incurable.  I would live my life with cancer.  I would live knowing that my cancer would never go away.  It is something that is hard to comprehend.  Honestly, I still have family and friends who just don’t get it.  They still think that any time I go in for a checkup or scan we are going to hear that I am cancer free.  It is hard to have to continue to explain to them that the cancer isn’t going away.

Last month I had a PET scan to see how the cancer was progressing.  I shared out publicly that I was going to be having the scan.  I received a lot of encouragement via social media and there were still people who were hoping for a clear scan.  I was just hoping for a scan that showed the cancer had not spread into new areas. 

Unfortunately, what I hoped for is not what happened.  My scan showed that my cancer had grown and spread.  The scan showed an increased size of the mass in my pelvis (involving the rectum) and on my supraclavicular lymph node (near my clavicle).  Additionally, there are new growths:  one in my neck, one on my trachea, and multiple on my liver.  This is not what I wanted to hear.

Meeting with the doctor was the next step after my PET scan.  I had a few days between my scan and my appointment to sort through things mentally.  When I met with the doctor we went through all of the treatments we have tried previously:  surgery (twice), Carbo/Taxol/Avastin, Cistplatin, external radiation, Avastin alone, Carbo/Taxol (again), Topetecan, clinical trial immunotherapy CX-072, Carbo/Taxol (again).  As you can see we have tried many options.  These options are not without side effects.  They are not easy.  Many times, these treatments would result in me having to be placed in the hospital for multiple days due to complications, infections, and blood transfusions.

Taking all of this information into account the conversation with my doctor moved to determining what we should do next.  How do we treat this incurable cancer?  Well, the answer is that it might be time that we don’t treat it.  We have exhausted our options.  At this point the treatments could shorten my life instead of extending it.  The treatments would absolutely reduce my quality of life, as proven by my many hospital stays.  I am a 33-year-old mother and wife.  Although I am not ready to die I know that I do not want to spend my remaining days ill in the hospital due to treatments. 

As we continued this conversation my husband brought up the idea of an immunotherapy which was recently approved for cervical cancer:  Keytruda.  My gynecologic oncologist said that it was an option, but it would not be without side effects.  We would also need to do a biopsy to see if I was a carrier of a certain tumor marker to determine if it was a treatment which would be a viable option.  I will be having my biopsy soon.  This treatment isn’t something that would cure the cancer, but, maybe it could slow it down.

One of the hardest parts of the conversation with my doctor was when I asked something I always said I would never ask: “How long can I live if we don’t do treatment?”  I never asked because I really didn’t want to know before, however, I felt like at this point it was a key piece of information when deciding what to do moving forward.  Dr. Callahan said he liked to break down the answer into three parts: days to weeks, months, or years.  We discussed that I am not at the days to weeks point, but, I am not in the years category either.  Imagine that.  Picture sitting in your doctor’s office as a 33-year-old wife and mother hearing that you are going to die without treatment within a year.  Remember that as you are sitting there you know you have exhausted your treatment options and the best way to have a fulfilling quality of life is to stop treatment.

Honestly, I fully expected to hear that the recommendation was no further treatment.  I am pretty well versed in cervical cancer at this point; I have been dealing with it for over six years and have been advocating for awareness much of that time. 

I have spoken with specialists from around the world.  Met fellow patients from around the world.  I have attended funerals of friends who were in the same situation I now find myself in.  I knew what was coming; I knew we were out of options.  It is never easy to hear though.

This was a hard message to share out publicly.  I have had to mentally prepare myself for the responses.  There are people who are going to push me to find religion.  There are people who think they are experts and know how to cure cancer without standard treatment.  There are also those individuals who will still think I will be okay.  It is hard to break the news to people.  I know people want to help but don’t know what to say.  I don’t know what to ask for.  It is challenging all around.  As far as the time I have left goes, I am going to continue living my life until I’m gone.  I hope you will join me!

Meningitis B: What College-Aged Students Need to Know

meningitis b

Tuition costs, student loans, choosing the right major…college students have enough to worry about these days. Yet there’s one thing that might not be on their radar but should be – Meningitis B. In the last five years, meningococcal serogroup B bacteria have caused several outbreaks and isolated cases on U.S. college campuses.

What is Meningitis B? 

Meningitis B is a life-threatening illness caused by a bacterial infection of the bloodstream or areas around the brain and spinal cord. The infection can occur so rapidly, that within hours it can lead to brain damage, disability, amputations, and death.

Approximately 1,000 people in the U.S. get meningitis each year, with 10% – 15% of those cases being fatal and another 10% – 20% resulting in brain damage or loss of limbs.

What are the Symptoms? 

Common symptoms of Meningitis B are:

  • stiff neck
  • headache
  • fever
  • rash
  • flu-like symptoms

Why are College-Aged Students More Vulnerable to Meningitis B?

Because Meningitis B can spread quickly among those living in close proximity to each other in residence halls and dorm rooms, college students are at a higher-risk for contracting the illness. However, all young adults are susceptible to Meningitis B due to their propensity for sharing things like cigarettes, drinks, and lipstick. That is why it is important that all college-age students receive the vaccine whether they are attending university or not.

What Can be Done to Prevent Meningitis B? 

The CDC recommends that adolescents 16 to 23 years old receive the MenB vaccine especially if they are living in college dorms. To avoid getting the illness, doctors encourage frequent handwashing, and not sharing utensils, drinks and other items that might be used in close proximity to someone’s mouth. 

For more information about Meningitis B and the MenB vaccine, see Indiana Immunization Coalition’s Beware of B campaign.

Cold or Flu: Learn How to Tell the Difference

cold or flu

Sneezing, coughing, chills… it’s that time of the year. But, do you have the cold, or the flu? They may seem like they are the same and knowing the difference isn’t a big deal, but it can be a matter of life and death.

The common cold and the flu are both respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. While the cold can cause you to feel sick for a few days, the flu can leave you ill for weeks and can lead to more serious illnesses, hospitalization, and even death.

Cold Symptoms

A cold does not usually result in serious health problems but the symptoms often last about a week.

• runny or stuffy nose
• sore throat
• congestion
• cough
• slight fever

Flu Symptoms

The flu is worse than a cold and the symptoms are more severe and usually come on quickly but generally improve over two to five days even though you may feel worse for wear for a week or so.

• fever
• chills
• sore throat
• cough
• headache
• fatigue
• muscle or body aches

Cold or Flu: How to Tell Which it is

First thing you should do is take your temperature. Common colds rarely lead to a fever of 101 degrees, but with the flu, you’re likely to have one. Also, pay attention to your body. Feeling achy? Then it’s probably the flu.

If you’re suffering from cold or flu symptoms, call the doctor if you have:

• a fever that won’t go away
• a cough that won’t let up
• a congested chest
• pain when you swallow

Any of these ongoing symptoms could mean you have an infection that require antibiotics like strep throat or bronchitis.

Cold and Flu Prevention

Frequent handwashing is important in the battle against colds and flus, however, the best way to prevent the flu, is with a flu shot.

For more information about the difference between a common cold and the flu, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions’ cold versus flu resource page

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