Monday, August 13, 2012

Getting to Know You - Pathogen Edition

August is Immunization Awareness Month, and I've admittedly been slacking off on the posts this month, largely because I've been very busy, but also due to a project I've been working on for all of you. There's a lot going on. If you haven't heard, there's a pertussis epidemic in several states, driven by a variety of factors (adults not getting boosters, teens whose immunity has lapsed, people refusing vaccines etc.). In West Virginia, several families are suing the state Department of Health and Human Services over a new requirement that high schoolers be required to get a Tdap booster, despite the secretary having the authority to propose rules regulating the "sanitary condition of all institutions and schools" (WV Code 16-1-4), not to mention being charged with the responsibility of controlling communicable diseases (WV Code 16-3), which includes the compulsory immunization of children, unless they have a valid medical reason to not be immunized. Then, of course, there was the recent court decision, throwing out Wakefield's libel suit against Brian Deer, Fiona Godlee and the BMJ on the grounds that Texas has no jurisdiction to hear the case. Not to mention elsewhere in the world suffering from outbreaks of preventable diseases that kill.

So like I said, there's a lot going on in the world regarding vaccines. I figured that Immunization Awareness Month presented an excellent opportunity to finally finish and release the project I've been working on. As important as it is to understand and be aware of the routine vaccines that are on the recommended list in the U.S. and elsewhere, it's also important to understand the diseases that these vaccines prevent. To that end, I've compiled information on the 16 diseases we are currently able to prevent through immunization, much of the information culled from the CDC's Pink Book. Every week day, for the rest of August, I will be posting a wanted poster for each disease at noon, EDT. I hope you find them useful and informative. And, if anyone is interested in print copies, I will make them freely available (though I'd see it as a kindness to send in a donation to an autism charity, such as the Autism Science Foundation, the Lurie Center for Autism, or to support vaccine research like that done at the Vaccine & Immunotherapy Center) in either 16" x 20" poster form or 4" x 5" card format. Just use the email link over to the right to get in touch with me. It would also be great if you could share the posts far and wide via Twitter, Facebook and whatever other social media you enjoy.

Special thanks to Maggie McFee for helping me with the logo design. Thanks also to the folks at the Public Health Image Library for keeping such a wonderful collection of images.

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