CBOs Feel Dismissed: New Report Outlines Failures of Federal Grants during COVID-19
September 8, 2022: Vaccinate Your Family (VYF) and Día de la Mujer Latina (DML) released a report today outlining the failure of federal grants to support community-based organizations (CBOs) during COVID-19. According to the report, “Supporting Community-based Organizations to Reignite a Culture of Immunization,” the federal grant applications often excluded CBOs based on requirements including: quick response time, project length, and conditions of funding which allowed larger institutes to apply as CBOs.
“Many of us advocates feel dismissed,” said Venus Ginés, founder and executive director of DML. “For example, DML has dedicated 25 years educating Latina communities about critical health issues and connecting people to preventive and treatment services. We have built a genuine trust which is often recognized by larger hospitals and universities. They come to us for help when they need to reach Latinas, but when it comes time to compensate us for our work, months can go by before we receive a dime. Sometimes, that work is never compensated at all.”
The report lists all of the groups that received federal funding from HRSA and CDC through key COVID-19 funding vehicles. While each organization likely did important work during the pandemic, most of the groups are not CBOs.
“All of us, from the federal government to public health nonprofits such as ours, must do a better job supporting CBOs,” said Amy Pisani, CEO of Vaccinate Your Family. “CBOs are the backbones of our communities on so many issues including health. It is high time we started making sure they have the consistent, robust funds they need without the immense administrative barriers that can often accompany those grants. Without CBOs, we cannot reignite a culture of immunization.”
VYF and DML will be hosting a Day of Learning on Monday, September 19 at 2 PM Eastern to discuss the report and to hear firsthand from CBOs across the country about their specific needs. You can register for the event here.
Vaccinate Your Family Celebrates No Cost Sharing for Medicare and Medicaid Vaccines
Vaccinate Your Family Celebrates No Cost Sharing for Medicare and Medicaid Vaccines
August 15, 2022 – Amy Pisani, CEO of Vaccinate Your Family, issued the following statement in response to President Joe Biden signing the Inflation Reduction Act into law.
“We are extremely pleased that this new law fully covers all routinely recommended vaccines for people with Medicare or Medicaid with no cost-sharing. No person should ever have to choose between buying groceries or getting a life-saving vaccine to protect themselves and their families.
“Our cofounders, former First Lady Rosalynn Carter and former First Lady of Arkansas Betty Bumpers, were the catalysts behind the Vaccines for Children program, guaranteeing all children could be protected against vaccine-preventable diseases regardless of their families’ ability to pay. Over three decades, the VFC program has prevented 419 million illnesses, saving the lives of nearly one million children and $1.9 trillion dollars.
While children had access to vaccines, 103 million adults in the U.S. did not. For too long, these adults on Medicare and Medicaid have not had equal access to vaccines that can save both lives and overall healthcare costs for our nation.
“We firmly believe that everyone who needs a vaccine should be able to get one. The Inflation Reduction Act is a tremendous step toward that goal. We are proud to have stood with our public health partners to ensure this progress toward a healthier U.S.”
BMJ Open Study Finds Misinformation in Mainstream Media is Rare, but Spreads Widely
BMJ Open Study Finds Misinformation in Mainstream Media is Rare, but Spreads Widely
June 6, 2022 – Vaccinate Your Family and partners at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the Alliance for Science at the Boyce Thompson Institute, and Cision, recently published a study in BMJ Open demonstrating that while COVID vaccine misinformation in mainstream media is uncommon when it does appear it spreads widely.
Between July 27, 2020 and June 30, 2021, 3.2 percent of all COVID-19 vaccine articles examined contained at least one of six specific misinformation themes. Over 56 percent contained at least one mention of a Safety theme, which included false claims that vaccines might variously cause death, DNA or RNA alteration, autism, COVID-19, unverified side effects, or that the vaccines included dangerous chemicals.
“Misinformation about vaccines can have deadly consequences,” said Amy Pisani, Chief Executive Officer for Vaccinate Your Family. “This study shows that many of the world’s largest media outlets are thankfully taking this issue very seriously, but more needs to be done to ensure people get the accurate, science-based information they need to make truly informed decisions about vaccines for themselves and their families.”
Read the full press release here.
Texas CHWs and Promotores Will Lead the Country in Vaccine Community Navigation
March 22, 2022 – Today, Día de la Mujer Latina and Vaccinate Your Family launched a first-of-its-kind training for community health workers (CHWs) and Promotores in Texas who want to better build their communities’ confidence in, and access to, vaccines. The organizations will be piloting the training in Texas before rolling it out across the U.S.
“To acquire vaccine confidence, you must build a relationship with the community you want to reach and Community Health Workers and Promotores are the trusted members of their communities who can effectively achieve this effort,” said Venus Ginés, president and founder of Día de la Mujer Latina. “Our Vaccine Community Navigator training will empower CHWs and promotores to both encourage vaccination in their communities as well as navigate people to vaccine services.”
Upon completion of the four-part, self-guided course, CHWs and promotores will receive certified continuing education credits. They will also receive a certificate declaring them official Vaccination Community Navigators, which can be shown to employers throughout the course of their employment and job searches.
“There are people out there who are open to vaccinating themselves or their families, but they have questions or face huge barriers to accessing vaccines,” said Amy Pisani, CEO of Vaccinate Your Family. “The COVID-19 pandemic shined a light on the important role of community health workers and promotores in building vaccine confidence and connecting people to vaccine services. We cannot afford to lose that focus as we continue to not only protect our communities against COVID but also against the many diseases that routine vaccines can prevent.”
Vaccinate Your Family Praises COVID Progress, Urges Further Action following the State of the Union Address
March 2, 2022 – Amy Pisani, CEO of Vaccinate Your Family, issued the following statement in response to President Joe Biden’s 2022 State of the Union address:
“President Biden and Members of Congress have done an incredible job supporting COVID-19 vaccination efforts. We have been encouraged by their support of programs to both increase vaccine access and increase confidence in vaccines, as well as their commitment to sending vaccines overseas. This pandemic will only truly end when the world is immunized.
“Vaccinate Your Family was disappointed, however, that President Biden’s remarks fell short of a full-throated call for federal policies to ensure everyone in our nation has access to all vaccines. The policies for COVID vaccination, testing, and treatment must be extended to routine childhood and adult immunizations. Our vaccine infrastructure has been underfunded for well over a decade. Our public health workforce is exhausted and quitting at an alarming rate. Vaccine mis- and disinformation continues to run rampant on social media platforms and beyond. Even as the nation faces other challenges on the world stage, we cannot forget the importance of all vaccines in returning to life and reopening schools and offices.
“If Congress and the President do not act decisively, now, to guarantee vaccine access, this pandemic will continue and may be followed by future epidemics of vaccine-preventable diseases. We at Vaccinate Your Family encourage the President to ensure his Unity agenda keeps immunity at the forefront. More specific policy recommendations aimed at ensuring equity, access, and a Union free of vaccine-preventable diseases can be found in our State of the ImmUnion annual report.”
Vaccinate Your Family Outlines Parameters for COVID Vaccine School-Entry Requirements
October 21, 2021 – As our co-founders were instrumental in the passage of laws requiring vaccination for school entry in the 1980s, Vaccinate Your Family continues to support school vaccine requirements that keep our children safe from deadly infectious diseases. While the primary series of vaccines ought to be completed by age two, school requirements were initiated to ensure that no children fell through the cracks of the healthcare system and could be caught up on needed vaccines prior to entering kindergarten.
Traditionally, vaccines are not added to the requirements for daycare and school attendance until they have been on the market for an extended period of time. Childhood safety data for each vaccine on the recommended schedule helps ensure parental acceptance of vaccines. School and daycare requirements should be put in place as the final mile to ensure that any child that has missed their vaccines(s) can be brought up to date and to ensure that children remain safe from deadly infectious diseases in their place of learning.
There are several parameters that are traditionally in place prior to considering vaccine requirements for school and daycare attendance including: full licensure of the vaccine;
- high parental acceptance;
- broad availability of the vaccine;
- physician/provider support for the vaccine;
- stable and adequate vaccine supply;
- addition of the vaccine to immunization information systems (registries);
- adequate data to assure vaccine safety;
- significant uptake in the recommended population to reduce the compliance burden on school/childcare systems;
- coverage for the vaccine and delivery in private health insurance plans; and
- sufficient funding to purchase the vaccine (if not completely federally-funded) through the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program, the Section 317 program, and/or a state program to provide access to those not adequately covered by private insurance.
While data supporting the overall safety of COVID vaccines is well established, the multiple criteria typically in place prior to considering a school-based requirement have not yet been met. Therefore, Vaccinate Your Family is urging state legislators, governors, and health commissioners to first ensure that necessary parameters have been met prior to considering the addition of COVID-19 vaccinations for children to the list of requirements for school attendance.
For more information about the thirty year history of VYF and the organization’s long-standing Daycare Center and School Requirements Position Statement visit: vaccinateyourfamily.org/about-us/policies-positions
VYF's Executive Director To Testify Before Congress
May 25, 2021 – Amy Pisani, Executive Director of Vaccinate Your Family, will testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations on Wednesday, May 26, 2021, at 11 AM EST. Amy will testify about VYF’s efforts to address vaccine hesitancy and misinformation, and how lessons learned from these efforts can be applied to the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines. She will be joined by actor and woodworker Nick Offerman, Dr. Saad Omer, Director of the Yale Institute for Global Health, Dr. J. Nadine Gracia, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the Trust for America’s Health, and Dr. Kathy Shelton, Director of the Mount Rogers Health District in Virginia. Watch the hearing and read written testimony here.
Gabrielle Union-Wade Joins ‘Don’t Skip’ Campaign to Encourage Doctor Well-Visits and Recommended Vaccinations
May 17, 2021 – Vaccinate Your Family, in collaboration with Merck, known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, announced today the launch of a new public health campaign called Don’t Skip with actress, activist and author Gabrielle Union-Wade to encourage families to schedule their well-visits and stay up to date on all recommended vaccines.
Parents’ fears about COVID-19, stay-at-home policies and other pandemic-related issues have caused families to stay away from doctors’ offices over the past year, with potentially serious implications to national public health. Missed child well-visits have led to declines in recommended vaccinations, with up to a 26 percent drop in certain childhood vaccinations between January and September 2020, according to one report.
As part of the campaign, a series of new public service announcements feature Union-Wade and her family during moments that reflect some of the realities of life during the pandemic, along with an important message: it’s okay to skip some things right now, but a visit to the doctor isn’t one of them. These visits are important for people of all ages to stay on schedule with their recommended vaccinations, especially for young children and preteens who may have missed some vaccines.
“The health and wellness of my family is my number one priority. Like so many other families, we’ve had to make some adjustments over the past year. But for us, we did not skip our kids’ well-visits and recommended vaccines,” said Union-Wade. “If there’s one thing the pandemic has taught us, it’s that public health matters and we all can do our part to help protect our families and each other. That’s why I’m encouraging parents to talk to their kid’s doctors now about getting back into the office to stay up to date with their kid’s recommended vaccinations.”
Timing to return to doctors’ offices has become important, as public venues are starting to reopen, and families are planning for summer break activities and a return to school later this year.
“Now is the time for people of all ages to be talking with their doctor about how to stay up to date with their recommended vaccinations, and it’s especially important for preteens and young children as communities reopen,” said Amy Pisani, executive director of Vaccinate Your Family. “Doctors are taking many precautions to help keep their offices as safe as possible, from special hours for well-visits to wait-in-car policies to limiting the number of people who attend visits. It’s important for parents to ask their child’s doctor now if their child is due for, or has missed, any recommended vaccinations.”
“The decline in recommended vaccination rates and doctor visits reported during the pandemic is a serious public health concern. The scale of this challenge calls for big voices, which is why we are thrilled to have Gabrielle, her family and Vaccinate Your Family involved in this important public health campaign,” said Dr. Julie Gerberding, executive vice president and chief patient officer, Merck. “Merck has a proud legacy of advancing important health initiatives and the decline in recommended child vaccinations warrants urgent return to care action. With support from Gabrielle and Vaccinate Your Family, we hope families will be motivated to help stay protected against vaccine-preventable diseases.”
More information can be found on DontSkipVaccines.com.
About the Don’t Skip Campaign
Don’t Skip is a national public health campaign by Vaccinate Your Family (VYF) in collaboration with Merck, featuring Gabrielle Union-Wade and her family. It focuses on encouraging families to return to routine health care, schedule their well-visits and stay up to date on recommended vaccinations, especially those that may have been missed during the pandemic. To learn more, visit DontSkipVaccines.com.
Vaccinate Your Family Serves on Google's Expert Jury to Select Global Recipients to Help Fight COVID-19 Misinformation
March 17, 2021 – Vaccinate Your Family had the distinct honor to serve on an expert jury as part of a Google News Initiative to select 11 worthy projects around the globe that will fight misinformation about COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccines.
As these projects come to fruition, VYF will share the details with partners here in the U.S. and abroad so that we may learn from their insights and perhaps model their programs in order to increase global confidence in COVID-19 by combatting misinformation and disinformation.
Please read the announcement below from Alexios Mantzarlis, News and Information Credibility Lead, Google News Lab:
The rapid nature of the COVID-19 vaccine development process and the great anxiety caused by the pandemic have made the topic of vaccination particularly susceptible to misinformation. Journalists can play a fundamental role supporting an evidence-based discourse by listening to their audiences’ concerns and providing corrective information about misconceptions that circulate online and offline.
Today, we are announcing the 11 projects that were selected through an extensive review process that included a 17-person project team and an expert jury reviewing the highest-scoring applicants.
These projects stood out for their attempt to reach underrepresented audiences, explore new formats for fact checks and rigorous strategies to measure their impact. Each recipient will be sharing more details on their own channels in the upcoming weeks. Here’s a brief overview of the projects:
- Africa Check, in partnership with Theatre for a Change, will produce a series of interactive radio drama shows in Wolof in Senegal and Pidgin in Nigeria to present fact checks in a more participatory format.
- Agência Lupa will provide COVID-19 vaccine fact checks to a network of community radios covering Brazilian “news deserts” and work with digital influencers to promote media literacy on the topic.
- Aleteia, I.Media and Verificat.cat will work with a scientific committee and two research centers to source misinformation and create a database of related fact checks available in seven languages for Catholic media outlets around the world.
- Chequeado will continue spearheading the collaborative project Latam Chequea that includes more than 20 fact-checking organizations across Latin America. It will aim to reach senior citizens, indigenous populations and 18-to-26-year-olds through dedicated formats.
- The hyperlocal digital site Escenario Tlaxcala, assisted by local doctors, will produce fact-checking content and distribute it across the Mexican state in Nahuatl and Otomí through various formats including by using “perifoneo” loudspeakers to reach offline audiences.
- Katadata will provide a platform debunking COVID-19 vaccine misinformation and work with the Indonesia Traditional Wet Market Merchants Association (Asparindo) to disseminate this content to wet markets across the country.
- In Uruguay, la diaria will publish fact checks and co-created content around COVID-19 misinformation, broadening its reach by partnering with trap music performer Pekeño 77 and screenwriter Pedro Saborido.
- Servimedia and Maldita.es will join force to create fact-checking content relevant for Spaniards with disabilities, in formats that are accessible to them.
- Stuff will work in partnership with Māori Television and the Pacific Media Network to fact-check misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine in New Zealand.
- A broad collaborative project led by The Quint in India will seek to source hyper-local misinformation and distribute fact checks through a grassroots network of rural women.
- Univision Noticias and FactCheck.org will work together to produce fact checks about COVID-19 immunization as short bilingual video explainers, with a plan to measure their impact systemically and reach a majority of U.S. Hispanic households.
Our goal is for the lessons learned from these initiatives to support our collective understanding of how best to combat misinformation about health topics, whether it’s through new audience strategies or new approaches to measuring the impact of fact checks. Stay tuned for more updates as these projects get underway.
VYF Co-founder Rosalynn Carter Joins Former First Ladies and Presidents Jimmy Carter, Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton to Encourage COVID-19 Vaccinations
March 11, 2021 – The Ad Council and COVID Collaborative today announced new PSAs as part of their COVID-19 Vaccine Education Initiative’s “It’s Up To You” campaign featuring former Presidents Jimmy Carter, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and former First Ladies Rosalynn Carter, Michelle Obama, Laura Bush, and Hillary Clinton. The videos are designed to encourage all Americans to get answers to the top questions about the COVID-19 vaccines at GetVaccineAnswers.org and to get a vaccination when it’s available to them.
“Over the past year, the pandemic has taken an immeasurable toll on families all across the country and upended everyone’s lives,” said President Barack Obama. “Michelle and I got vaccinated against COVID-19 because we know it’s the best way to get the country back up and running again—and get us back to the moments we miss. We hope every American will do the same and get a vaccine as soon as it’s available to them. It could save your life.”
“Laura and I are grateful for the dedicated scientists and researchers who enabled safe and effective vaccines to be developed so quickly. As the country moves toward recovery and renewal, we look forward to seeing our families, friends, and even a baseball game. We hope everyone joins us in getting a vaccine when it’s available to them,” said President George W. Bush.
“America has always been at its best when we are looking out for one another and pulling together in common cause. Now, with the development of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines, we have the chance to rise to the moment again,” said President Bill Clinton. “I encourage every American to get vaccinated as soon as it becomes available to you—and to feel confident, as Hillary and I did when we got ours, that it will protect you and your loved ones, and bring us all one step closer to ending this pandemic.”
“Rosalynn and I are very happy to be vaccinated so, together with other public health measures, we can get back to church, see our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and eventually be active in our community again. I encourage everyone to get a vaccine when it’s their turn,” said President Jimmy Carter.
Vaccinate Your Family is proud to be a partner on the COVID Collaborative – Learn more about the important programs being developed as part of the “It’s Up to You” COVID-19 Vaccine Public Education Campaign.
Vaccinate Your Family and National Council of Negro Women Launch New Collaboration Called Good Health WINs
February 10, 2021 – Today, Vaccinate Your Family and the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW)launched a new collaboration to help African American and Latinx communities THRIVE through good health. The program called Good Health WINs (Women’s Immunization Networks) pairs NCNW’s unparalleled network of 2 million American women and men of African descent with Vaccinate Your Family’s deep knowledge of vaccines and immunization policy. Together, we will work with additional partners to ensure all communities have access to vaccines and accurate vaccination information. Learn more about Good Health WINs on our Shot of Prevention blog.
Vaccinate Your Family Applauds the Authorization of the First COVID-19 Vaccine, Urges Policymakers to Step Up
On December 11, 2020, less than 12 months from the outset of a global pandemic, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted Emergency Authorization Use to a vaccine that will protect our nation from coronavirus. Soon up to 50 million doses will arrive in every state and territory throughout the U.S., and the most vulnerable among our communities will be first in line to receive the two doses of the vaccine.
Vaccinate Your Family President and Cofounder Rosalynn Carter urged individuals who are recommended for the vaccines in the coming months to “get immunized as soon as possible to protect themselves, their families and their communities.” The Former First Lady expressed her condolences to the millions of families throughout the globe who lost loved ones to this now vaccine-preventable disease. “I hope that this will be the turning point when individuals become acutely aware of the devastating consequences that coronavirus and other vaccine-preventable diseases can have. It is essential to ensure that everyone receives timely vaccinations.”
Statement from Amy Pisani, MS, Executive Director:
Vaccinate Your Family applauds the authorization of the first vaccine to fight COVID-19. However, our country’s work to protect each and every person against this deadly disease is far from over. Congress must immediately approve additional funding for the quick, equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines as well as critical resources for community initiatives to increase vaccine confidence. The devastating impact coronavirus has had on this country, and in communities of color in particular, must end. We will only see the end of this pandemic when we all work together to make sure people are able and willing to receive a vaccine.
Press inquiries should be directed to Erica DeWald, Director of Strategic Communications and Partnerships – firstname.lastname@example.org; 202-783-7034, ext. 103
VYF Provides Oral Comments to the NASEM on the Discussion Draft of the Preliminary Framework for Equitable Allocation of the COVID-19 Vaccine
September 02, 2020 – My name is Amy Pisani and I serve as the Executive Director of Vaccinate Your Family (VYF).
Thank you for the opportunity to offer comments today. This National Academies Committee has taken on the tremendously important – and delicate – issue of allocating future COVID-19 vaccines equitably. The initial framework is moving in the right direction, particularly as it builds from past experience and existing distribution systems.
Vaccinate Your Family is a national nonprofit organization committed to protecting people of all ages from vaccine-preventable diseases. For nearly 30 years, our organization has been at the forefront of efforts to educate the public about the critical importance of timely vaccinations and to increase confidence in the safety and efficacy of vaccines. Our organization has helped to shape vaccine policies that have made lasting improvements to the vaccine infrastructure of this nation and we will continue to work with our immunization partners to support systemic changes to improve the vaccination rates of children and adults, who experience significant disparities in coverage.
While protecting everyone against COVID-19 with a vaccine will not be possible in the immediate future, we are hopeful that SARS-COV2 will soon be on the list of viruses against which the world is protected through lifesaving vaccines.
Vaccinate Your Family is immensely grateful for the thoughtful draft framework for equitable COVID-19 vaccine distribution created by this committee. We support the principle of “equal regard” for all individuals and urge the nation to extend this to include the prioritization of high-risk health workers throughout the globe. We also appreciate the thorough efforts of this Committee to gather learnings from past pandemics to apply to the current crisis.
As the world is now aware, COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted adults over the age of 65, people of all ages with underlying health conditions, and the economically disadvantaged. Combined, these groups account for a large portion of the world’s population. The same populations who have had severe outcomes from COVID-19, including those who suffer from diabetes, heart disease and a variety of lung conditions, are also at higher risk from other infectious diseases for which we have vaccines including influenza, pneumonia, shingles and whooping cough.
VYF agrees with the Committee’s view that “Fundamental health inequities in COVID-19 and in other health conditions are rooted in structural inequalities, racism, and residential segregation. Any vaccine allocation scheme designed to reduce COVID-19 risk must explicitly address the higher burden of COVID-19 experienced by the populations affected most heavily, given their exposure and compounding health inequities. Mitigating those health inequities is, therefore, a moral imperative of an equitable vaccine allocation system.”
While there have been devastating consequences from this pandemic, it is our hope that the public’s awareness of the dangers of certain underlying medical conditions will drive the development of new partnerships between public health and community organizations, patient advocacy groups, and specialized health associations to increase awareness of the critical importance of COVID-19 and other vaccinations, and to eliminate health disparities.
We urge policymakers to review the background information in this report and take immediate steps to overcome the challenges faced by adults who do not have full coverage for vaccinations under their health plans, Medicaid or Medicare. We support the Committee’s draft recommendation to develop an emergency infrastructure program for adults based on the remarkably successful Vaccines for Children program, which was created in 1993 as part of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act and has been credited with nearly eliminating racial vaccine disparities among children.
In order to increase public confidence in the prioritization plan, we wish to stress the importance of making the decisions of this Committee readily accessible to the public. We appreciate that the Committee recognizes the need to ensure the framework is easily understood by all audiences and that the vaccine is not only distributed equitability, but also perceived as equitable by populations who are “socioeconomically, culturally and educationally diverse, and who have distinct historical experiences with the health system”.
Therefore, we urge the National Academies and government agencies to engage traditional and non-traditional vaccine and health communication partners to further share these recommendations in the media, online and through organizations with direct access to the public.
People in the U.S. must understand the process for developing the framework, as well as the framework itself, in order to feel confident that the new COVID-19 vaccine will be distributed fairly and equitably. The public health community stands ready to share the deliberative process used by this Committee as you offer your recommendations to the ACIP and the public.
Unfortunately, some of the people who will be prioritized for COVID-19 vaccination may be hesitant about the vaccine’s safety and efficacy. This could be for a variety of reasons including general hesitancy toward vaccination or concerns about the speed with which the COVID vaccines are being developed. Efforts to communicate about this framework must therefore be complemented with ongoing conversations about how COVID-19 vaccines are being developed and information about the systems in place to monitor vaccine safety and efficacy in the U.S. The purpose and historical success of each of these safety systems should be broadly shared with the public.
Once again, Vaccinate Your Family appreciates the Committee’s thoughtful allocation criteria, which reflect some very difficult, but critical considerations to ensure that those at greatest risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19 are prioritized to protect the entire public. The considerations outlined in this report reflect this Committee’s vast scientific and social justice expertise we are confident that the prioritization decisions included careful deliberation of the critical factors that will ensure equitable distribution that will help mitigate the spread and dangerous complications of COVID-19.
As we await the Committee’s final report, Vaccinate Your Family will focus our efforts on ensuring that every individual who seeks a future vaccine has equal access to immunizations.
CT Voters Overwhelming Agree: Vaccines are Critical to Public Health and Should Be Required for School and Daycare Attendance
July 16, 2020 – The best way to stop the spread of disease is through vaccination and parents have a responsibility to ensure that their children are vaccinated before entering schools and daycares to protect public health —these are just some of the statements that Connecticut residents overwhelmingly support according to a just released poll of registered voters.
Residents strongly support changing current law so that parents can only exempt their children from vaccination requirements for medical reasons in order to be allowed to attend schools and daycares in the state. CT is one of several states seeking to remove personal beliefs and religious reasons for exemptions to required vaccines for school and daycares in the state.
The poll was conducted by Lake Research Partners during the week of June 9-16 on behalf of Vaccinate Your Family, a nonprofit, non-partisan vaccine advocacy organization, based in Washington, D.C. and Connecticut. The polling found overwhelming support for vaccinations to protect children in schools and daycares throughout Connecticut.
The poll comes at a time when school districts across the state are grappling with how to re-start in person learning following school shutdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The online poll included a representative sampling of 600 registered voters from across the state, that included all genders, religious beliefs and political party affiliations as well as an oversampling of Black and Latinx populations. Highlights include:
- Nearly nine out of ten parents in Connecticut believe children should be required to receive vaccines with nearly 75% in strong agreement.
- 87% of adults statewide and across party lines agree that children should be required to receive recommended vaccines against diseases in order to be enrolled in schools and daycares.
- 65% of adults (42% strongly) support proposed legislation in the Connecticut General Assembly that would ONLY allow parents to opt their children out of daycare and school vaccine requirements for medical reasons.
“Despite the loud voices of a vocal minority, the evidence is clear, Connecticut parents want their kids to be protected from preventable diseases, and vaccines are the best way to do that,” said Amy Pisani, Executive Director of Vaccinate Your Family, a Connecticut resident and mom. “Now more than ever we need to ensure the loopholes that have allowed the vaccination rates among kids in our state to drop are closed, and passing legislation to require vaccinations for daycare and schools is how we will achieve that. As a parent in Connecticut, this is deeply personal to me and I am thrilled, but not surprised to see that the majority of parents in the state want to see this legislation passed.”
“Vaccines are the greatest and most effective way to protect our kids from preventable diseases. From birth to college, kids should be immunized to maximize their health,” said Erin Jones, Legislative and Strategic Counsel at March of Dimes. “If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s the value of disease prevention. Requiring childhood immunization from preventable diseases is our obligation to them and the greater public’s health.”
Due to the overwhelming response by Connecticut voters, lawmakers should prioritize legislation to remove the non-medical exemption and consider passing the legislation in an upcoming special session.
Vaccinate Your Family (VYF) was originally founded in 1991 by Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter and Former First Lady of Arkansas Betty Bumpers. Based in Washington, DC our mission is to protect people of all ages from vaccine-preventable diseases by: raising awareness of the critical need for timely immunizations, increasing the public’s understanding of the benefits of vaccines, increasing confidence in the safety of vaccines, ensuring that all families have access to lifesaving vaccines, and advocating for policies that support timely vaccination.
Executive Director, Amy Pisani a long-time resident of Connecticut and is a member of the Vaccination Alliance of CT and CT Citizens for Science.
Poll Methodology: Lake Research Partners was hired by Vaccinate Your Family to design and administer this survey that was conducted online from June 9 – 16, 2020. The survey reached a total of 600 adults in Connecticut and oversamples of 75 African American and 100 Latinx adults. The sample of respondents was drawn from an online panel. The base sample was weighted by gender, region, age, race, party identification, and race by gender. The African American oversample was weighted by gender, age, and party identification. The Latinx oversample was weighted by gender, region, age, and party identification. The oversamples were weighted down into the base to reflect their proportion of the overall population. The base and the oversamples were weighted to reflect their actual proportion of the Connecticut statewide population.
The margin of error for the base is +/-4.0%. The margin of error for the oversamples and subgroups is higher.
Public Comment by Vaccinate Your Family at ACIP Meeting
June 24, 2020 – My name is Amy Pisani. I am the Executive Director of Vaccinate Your Family. Our organization seeks to protect people of all ages from vaccine-preventable diseases. For nearly three decades our organization, along with our partners in public health have developed many successful strategies to ensure that every individual has access to lifesaving vaccines.
Vaccines are one of the most important tools we have to keep families and communities protected against highly contagious diseases. We at Vaccinate Your Family want to make certain that parents and individuals continue to feel confident that the vaccines given to protect lives remain both safe and effective.
After a vaccine is licensed and recommended for use in the U.S., there are four systems in place that work together to help scientists monitor the safety of vaccines and identify any rare side effects that may not have been found in clinical trials. We remain highly confident in the robust safety systems in place here in the U.S. including the Vaccine Safety Datalink, Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, the Post-Licensure Rapid Immunization Safety Monitoring System, and the Clinical Immunization Safety Assessment Project – all of which are described on our website.
Vaccinate Your Family has a policy expressly supporting the recommendations of the ACIP and the immunization schedules voted on by this well-informed body of independent experts. ACIP’s recommendations are the foundation upon which our nation’s successful vaccine program is based.
In order for the public to have confidence in the safety and effectiveness of future covid vaccines, it will be critical that decisions be driven by science and the decision making process must be transparent.
To that end, we urge that ACIP and FDA’s VRBPAC be involved in evaluations of the data of vaccine candidates and deciding whether and how these vaccines should be available to the public. ACIP sets the standard of care for vaccines and providers rely on the Committee to set the parameters for Clinical Care. Insurance coverage is based on the recommendations as well as VFC coverage. It is therefore imperative that any COVID vaccine recommendations for our nation are set forth by the ACIP – who can offer detailed recommendations for each population. Only this Committee has the history, expertise, and the trust of the healthcare community and the public.
We remain confident that this Committee will take action to monitor safety data on current and future vaccines, including those to prevent COVID-19 to ensure their safety as soon as they begin to be put to use.
In closing, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us what those in public health have suspected for many years — chronic underfunding and neglect of our public health infrastructure has left us vulnerable to infectious diseases. Unfortunately, vaccines are only effective if people receive them.
Yesterday, Vaccinate Your Family released a special State of the ImmUnion report on the issue of COVID vaccination preparedness. In this brief report, we examine the five steps Congress must take to strengthen our country’s vaccine infrastructure & ways to help constituents understand the value of vaccines. We urge members of the public and this committee to read our report by visiting the Vaccinate Your Family website.
Thank you for what you do today and every day.
Vaccinate Your Family Welcomes Emily Holubowich to Its Board of Directors
May 28, 2020 – Vaccinate Your Family is delighted to welcome Emily Holubowich who will serve as a member of VYF’s Board of Directors beginning in June 2020. Emily’s breadth of knowledge will be invaluable to the organization as we work to protect people of all ages from vaccine-preventable diseases and to eliminate disparities in vaccination coverage. Emily’s insight from her role at American Heart Association will be essential as VYF focuses efforts to increase vaccination rates among those at particularly high risk of severe disease complications due to chronic health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and more.
Emily is a government affairs executive specializing in policy and communications strategies that catalyze legislative and appropriations victories for public health and research sectors. In 2019, Emily began leading the American Heart Association’s Federal Advocacy team in advancing legislative and regulatory policy priorities in the areas of access to care, food and nutrition policy, public health and prevention, medical research funding, tobacco control and active transportation policy, among others.
For 10 years, Emily served as a Senior Vice President at CRD Associates, LLC, a DC-based government relations firm. While there clients, she represented the Coalition for Health Funding as its Executive Director, managing up to four staff in operations, finance, communications, and government relations for a 95-organization member base, which included Vaccinate Your Family.
Previously, Emily served as Director, Government Relations at AcademyHealth, which supports the production and use of evidence to inform health care policy and practice, and as Senior Health Policy Analyst and Special Assistant to the Managing Director at the U.S. Government Accountability Office. She is also a lecturer in health policy and management at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C.
Emily is a recognized spokesperson and thought leader, having appeared on global media outlets including CNN, MSNBC, The New York Times, NPR, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. She has authored more than 20 publications and is a frequent presenter before Members of Congress, public health and healthcare leaders, advocates and students.
Vaccinate Your Family Encourages Healthcare Providers and Families to Follow CDC and AAP Recommendations on Immunizations During the COVID-19 Pandemic
April 16, 2020 – The COVID-19 pandemic is undoubtedly a challenging situation for healthcare providers and families throughout the United States. To slow the spread of the coronavirus in communities, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has encouraged clinicians to scale back on face-to-face interactions with their patients, including postponing or cancelling non-urgent elective procedures and using telemedicine options whenever possible.
However, a total disruption of clinical preventive services, such as vaccination, could leave some people and communities vulnerable to vaccine-preventable diseases once social distancing recommendations and stay-at-home orders are lifted. Therefore, VYF encourages healthcare providers to follow the recommendations of the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) for immunizations during this time, including implementing the following measures whenever feasible.
For clinics working with children, providers should:
- Schedule well visits at different times or at separate locations from sick visits.
- Separate sick patients from well patients spatially, such as seeing sick patients in a different area as patients attending well visits.
- Prioritize newborn care and vaccination of infants and young children (through 24 months of age) when possible, if a practice cannot provide well child visits for all patients in their practice.
For clinics working with adults, providers should:
- Postpone immunization-only visits for adults, unless there is an urgent and compelling need for vaccination AND the benefit of vaccination outweighs any risk of exposure to the new coronavirus.
- Provide immunizations only if the patient is being seen in the clinic for another purpose AND the vaccine can be given with no additional risk to the patient or provider.
Given these recommendations, people of all ages with upcoming vaccination and/or well child appointments should call their healthcare provider to discuss whether their appointments are able to remain as scheduled and what precautions, if any, they may want you to take during the visit.
Vaccinate Your Family strongly recommends that people set a reminder to reschedule any cancelled vaccine appointments after the stay-at-home orders are lifted to help protect their families and their communities from vaccine-preventable diseases.
For more information on this topic, please see CDC’s guidance and recommendations for clinical preventive services and AAP’s guidance for pediatric providers.
Vaccinate Your Family’s 2020 State of the ImmUnion Report is Now Available
February 11, 2020 – In 2019, not a single state remained free from vaccine-preventable diseases. Yet yesterday, the President released his budget, which included a 10% cut to essential funds for CDC and HHS.
In Vaccinate Your Family’s fourth annual State of the ImmUnion (SOTI) report, we examine where our country’s defenses against vaccine-preventable diseases are weakest and what we can do – as public health advocates and policymakers – to make our country stronger and more resilient in the face of emerging health threats.
Vaccinate Your Family is committed to working with stakeholders across the country to help ensure everyone is aware of – and has access to – timely, lifesaving vaccines. We hope you will share this report with your Senators and Representative.
Vaccinate Your Family Leads Immunization Community’s Call on DHS to Vaccinate Detainees
October 7, 2019 – Today, 54 national and state organizations, including Vaccinate Your Family (VYF), have called on the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS) to vaccinate individuals, especially children, in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP). Earlier this fall, CBP announced it had no intention of vaccinating people in their custody against flu, putting these individuals, CBP personnel, and the broader communities at risk of a flu outbreak. Read the letter and learn why it is critical that everyone within our borders is vaccinated.
Vaccinate Your Family Cheers the Introduction of the VACCINES Act of 2019
May 21, 2019 – Vaccinate Your Family (VYF) is thrilled to learn that the House has introduced the VACCINES Act of 2019. This bill is long overdue. For too long federal funding for vaccine communication research and campaigns has remained stagnant, weakening our national and state-level vaccination partners in their attempts to share science-based information with parents. We strongly support the House’s efforts to enact this bill with an appropriate, increased level of funding.
Public Health Leaders Affirm Safety of Vaccines for African American/Black Children
Vaccinate Your Family (formerly known as Every Child By Two) spearheaded a sign-on letter, which includes several former CDC Directors, Secretaries of Health and public health leaders confirming the safety of vaccines for African American children, noting that there are no indications that African American children are at a higher risk of rare side effects from vaccines than any other ethnic group.