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Support Your Herd: Growing a grassroots vaccine advocacy and education movement in Boulder

By Karli Carston

As a kid, I took vaccines for granted. Shots were something that was mildly unpleasant but necessary.

Then I grew up and became a mom.

I followed the car seat recommendations. I followed recommendations for breastfeeding and starting solid foods. I understood the relative risks and benefits of vaccines and followed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) schedule for both my kids. I assumed pretty much everyone else did the same.

It wasn’t until a couple of years ago when I moved to Boulder, Colo. to start a new job when my bubble burst. A local education news outlet, Chalkbeat Colorado, had calculated the proportion of students in each public school who were fully vaccinated and published the rates for parents like myself to see, and the information was both surprising and disheartening. A well-regarded charter school recommended to us by friends and neighbors had a 50 percent vaccination rate. Our local elementary school was much better at 85 percent but still fell far short of what is necessary for herd immunity. Not everyone accepts that the health benefits of vaccines outweigh the minuscule risks?!, I thought. How could this be? But the data were there in black and white.
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Why I Chose to Vaccinate

By Briana Sprague, Perinatal Hepatitis B Prevention Coordinator at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

When I found out I was pregnant, my dream of having a child finally came true. There was nothing I wanted more in this life than to be a mother. I had known as long as I could remember that I was destined to become a mom. The birth of my son, Jackson, was singularly the best moment of my life. I knew instantly that I loved him more than anything and that protecting him was my new life mission. The first three days home from the hospital were probably the hardest days of my life but also the most rewarding. Each day that I get to watch my son grow tops the day before.

One thing I learned about myself after becoming pregnant is that I am scared of everything. While I’m not afraid to admit that, I am afraid of not being able to protect Jackson from everything that could potentially harm him. But that just isn’t possible.

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One Mother’s Story: The Importance of HPV Vaccination

This week of National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM), Aug. 22-28, focuses on the important role vaccines play in protecting preteens and teens against serious diseases.

By Kimberly Graham

With three kids a little too close in age, keeping track of who needs which vaccines and when has never been my strong suit. Fortunately, now that they’re getting older, they need fewer shots, and I need fewer post-doctor visit bribes.

My second grader was seemingly in the clear until at least middle school, but this summer, our family’s health history changed. So did my thinking about HPV vaccines, which can be given to girls and boys as early as age 9 as a way to prevent certain kinds of cancers.

My mom, a 56-year-old bookkeeper, was diagnosed with oral cancer in late May. A biopsy later confirmed that her case—a tumor on the back her tongue that had spread to lymph nodes in her throat—was caused by a strain of HPV. Read more

Why are we still talking about autism and vaccines? (And why is DeNiro asking us to?)

This blog post originally appeared on From the Square – The NYU Press Blog April 27, 2016.

By Jennifer Reich

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Actor Robert DeNiro hand-picked the documentary Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe to show at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York, which he founded. The film, which has since been removed after widespread criticism, explores well-traveled terrain. At the center (according to promotional materials) are perennial claims that vaccines cause autism. More specifically, the movie focuses on a 2004 study published in the well-respected journal Pediatrics in which researchers from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) argue there is no causal link between autism and the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine. The filmmakers revisit a controversial claim by one of the authors: data showed that for a subset of African American boys vaccinated before the age of three years, the risk of autism increased with on-time vaccination and the CDC threw those data out.

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