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 – email@example.com; 202-783-7034, ext. 103
Additional 2020 Announcements
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.