Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Don't Wait to Vaccinate for Meningococcal Disease.

Two cases of serogroup B meningococcal disease have been confirmed at Santa Clara University in California. The university will now have to scramble to implement vaccine clinics to protect other students. We urge communities and schools to please be proactive - not reactive - and vaccinate now for MenB and the other four serogroups of this disease. Serogroup B is the most common serogroup in the US right now. Please do not put these vaccinations on your "to do" list or think this disease can't strike your child. And remember this is not just a college disease.

This is an issue near and dear to our hearts here at Nurses Who Vaccinate. Executive Board member Patti Wukovitis's daughter Kimberly was a high school senior when she contracted meningitis B and passed away. Please note that 11-25 years old are the ages of highest risk.

We will keep these students in our prayers and also pray that this does not turn into an outbreak situation.

Please see below for a recent statement from Patti Wukovits, RN, Executive Director, The Kimberly Coffey Foundation


In light of today’s news of two confirmed cases of serogroup B meningococcal disease at the University of Santa Clara in California, we urge all adolescents and young adults ages 10-25 to be vaccinated with a serogroup B vaccine series in addition to a quadrivalent (serogroups A,C,W and Y) meningococcal conjugate vaccine. This will offer you the best protection against all five serogroups of meningococcal disease (more commonly referred to as bacterial meningitis). Please do not assume that you are protected against serogroup B (MenB) if you have been vaccinated for meningococcal disease unless you have received this very important ADDITIONAL vaccine. Serogroup B currently accounts for 40% of meningococcal disease in the U.S. and is not just a college disease.

My 17-year-old daughter, Kimberly Coffey, died in 2012 from serogroup B meningococcal disease just three days before her high school graduation.  As a parent, I had the false sense of security that Kimberly was fully protected because she had been vaccinated for meningococcal disease. As it turns out, she was not because the quadrivalent conjugate vaccine does not include or protect against serogroup B. In 2012 Kimberly didn’t have the opportunity to be protected against serogroup B. But because serogroup B vaccines are now available as of 2014, you do. Please, please get vaccinated.

Visit our website for further information about the symptoms, protection and transmission of meningococcal disease.  If you require assistance in finding vaccination for MenB, we can help you locate a provider in your area. Contact Patti Wukovits, RN at 

Patti Wukovits, R.N.
Executive Director

Patti Wukovits, R.N. Secretary of Nurses Who Vaccinate
Patti Wukovits has been a registered nurse for 9 years. She is the Executive Director of The Kimberly Coffey Foundation, a foundation she and her husband established after the loss of her daughter Kim. The Kimberly Coffey Foundation’s mission is to educate the public and healthcare professionals about bacterial meningitis (meningococcal disease), including the symptoms of the disease and the importance of prevention through vaccination. Patti has also made The Kimberly Coffey Memorial Nursing Scholarship available in Kim's name as Kim’s dream was to be a pediatric nurse. She is a M.O.M. (Moms on Meningitis) with the National Meningitis Association. Married with 4 children (her son Chris, her daughter Kim, her stepdaughter Jaclyn and her stepson John). 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

What Is The Best Way to Prevent Cervical Cancer? Hint: It Starts with "V" and Rhymes with "Sixteen"

January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. Each January, we've taken a closer look at cervical cancer as we raise awareness to prevention and detection. As the yearly observance comes to an end. it's important to summarize the information that is available.

Cervical cancer is caused by certain strains of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), which spread mainly through sexual contact. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), cervical cancer affects more than 12,000 women in the United States annually and caused more than 4,000 deaths in 2012. In the U.S., the incidence of cervical cancer is relatively low when compared with other countries. In 2012, the rate of cervical cancer in the U.S. was only 8.1 cases per 100,000 women.  In Malawi, the incidence of cervical cancer was 75.9 cases per 100,000 women in 2012. According to the Word Cancer Research Fund International, about 84% of cancer cases occurred in less developed nations than the U.S. and more than 528,000 cases of cervical cancer were diagnosed worldwide.

The CDC estimates that nine out of ten people will contract HPV at some point in their lifetime. Detection and prevention are key in preventing fatal cervical cancer cases. Cervical cancer can be detected with routine pap smears. Cervical cancer screening includes two types of screening tests: cytology-based screening, known as the Pap test or Pap smear, and HPV testing. The main purpose of screening with the Pap test is to detect abnormal cells that may develop into cancer if left untreated.

Cervical cancer can be prevented by getting one of the two HPV vaccines available. The HPV vaccines are important because the incidence of HPV is high in the U.S.  Gardasil is recommended by the CDC for all males and females ages 11 to 26  and prevents types 6, 11, 16, and 18. Cervarix vaccine is used in girls and young women ages 9 through 25 to prevent cervical cancer caused by certain types of HPV (types 16 and 18).  Unfortunaterly, the HPV vaccine has been a source of controversy since Gardasil was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2006 and when Cervarix was approved in 2009. Many parents may feel hesitant to consider the future sexual activity of their children and thus choose to forgo the Gardasil vaccine. Others may also worry about the safety of the HPV vaccine based upon misinformation they have read on the Internet. However, the HPV vaccine is perfectly safe.  Both Gardasil and Cervarix went through the stringent FDA approval process and both demonstrated favorable results in studies which included over 10,000 girls from 12 different countries. It’s important to note that both males and females should get the HPV vaccine to reduce the incidence and opportunity for transmission in our communities.

The CDC has several resources about the HPV vaccine, including this pamphlet for distribution for patients and families:

According to Health, there are several ways that we as nurses can help promote Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. We can encourage women to get their annual pap smears, remind women that this service is covered by their health insurance and we can encourage parents to vaccinate their children against HPV. But mostly importantly, we need to stress that the HPV vaccine is highly effective and safe. 

Cancer is never a good thing but the good news is that cervical cancer can be detected early and it can be prevented with the HPV vaccine!

For further reading, here’s an excellent document from Health about cervical cancer and the HPV vaccine:



Angela Quinn is a registered nurse on Long Island, NY. Angela is passionate about nursing and public health. She volunteers as an Executive Board Member of Nurses Who Vaccinate and is also the founder of Correcting the Misconceptions of Anti-Vaccine Resources, a professional blog which refutes anti-vaccine articles and blogs that promote misinformation and misconceptions about vaccines.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Help Stop Meningitis in New York!

Pro-science parents and nurses- your support this week is critical! The New York State meningococcal bill S4324a/A791c is now on Governor Andrew Cuomo's desk for his consideration.This is the final step and the Governor will likely make his decision this week.

The NYS Meningococcal Immunization Bill would require all seventh and twelfth grade students to be immunized with the current meningococcal vaccine. 
JUSTIFICATION: According to the CDC, roughly 1,000 - 1,200 people contract meningococcal disease each year in the United States. Between ten and fifteen percent of these cases are fatal. Eleven to nineteen percent of those who survive will suffer from permanent hearing loss,developmental delays, loss of limbs, or other serious conditions. This bill would require meningococcal vaccinations for students entering the seventh and twelfth grades. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), which provides advice and guidance to the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recommends a single dose of vaccine be administered at age 11 or 12, and a booster at age 16. Currently, more than 20 states require meningococcal vaccines.
LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: 2014: S.7348 Referred to Health
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None noted. Health plans in the state of New York are required to cover preventive and primary care services, including necessary immunizations. Additionally, the Vaccines for Children (VFC)program is a federally funded program that provides ACIP recommended vaccines at no cost to children who might not otherwise be vaccinated because of inability to pay.
EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect immediately.

Supporters of this bill are asking everyone to please call, write an email and fax letters in support of the bill today.

Phone Calls:

The Governor's office can be reached at 1-518-474-8390. Out-of-state residents are allowed to call to voice their support and NYS residents please be sure to provide your zip code.


Emails should be directed to: Alphonso David, Counsel to the Governor c/o Katherine Santandrea, Executive Assistant to Alphonso David

Please include in the subject line of e-mails: Support for NY Meningococcal Immunization Bill (S.4324-A/ A.791-C)

Suggestion of some sample wording in email:

Dear Mr. Alphonso David:

Please help support 
The New York State meningococcal bill S4324c/A791aNew York State needs this very important bill to be signed into law so that not one more person will contract or die unnecessarily from meningococcal disease – a vaccine preventable disease! This bill will, no doubt, save hundreds of lives and save hundreds from the devastating side effects of the disease, such as limb amputations and neurologic deficits. Meningococcal disease can kill an otherwise healthy person within 24 hours!

This bill targets vaccination of the ages with the highest rates of meningococcal disease, specifically preteen, teen, and young adults. I believe it should be mandated for this high risk group. It is the most effective way to avert a catastrophic disease in young people who usually contract the disease in a school setting.

I urge you to please pass this bill into law.
Emails can also be sent to Governor Andrew M. Cuomo via his website contact page:
You can also mail him directly at

Postal Service:

Please write a letter to the governor (you can use the above template but please include your own thoughts) asking him to support (S.4324-A/ A.791-C)
The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor of New York State
NYS State Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224

FAX your letter: 518-4741513

There is some false misinformation being circulated in opposition of this bill. Below are the common misconceptions and rebuttals. 

1    FALSE STATEMENT: “There have been no deaths from meningococcal meningitis in the age group targeted by this bill in New York in the past five years.”
FACT: As one example, a 17-year-old high school senior died from meningococcal disease in the bill’s targeted age group within the past five years (2012) in New York State.

      FALSE STATEMENT: “One can reasonably expect 4,000 serious injuries and 12 deaths every year from annually vaccinating 400,000 New York students to prevent a handful of meningococcal meningitis cases.”
FACT: During 2005-2011, an estimated 800-1,200 cases of meningococcal disease occurred annually in the United States.

      FALSE STATEMENT:  The bill “also includes a mandate for vaccines for the B-strain of meningococcal meningitis, even though there are no vaccines for meningitis B licensed for use in the United States.”
FACT:   Serogroup B vaccines are licensed in the United States as of 2014.
Because serogroup B vaccines were given a permissive category B recommendation by ACIP in June 2015, the proposed bill does not, at this time, include vaccines for serogroup B meningococcal disease. The bill is for protection with the current ACIP recommended meningococcal vaccines which protect against serogroups A,C,W & Y.

Please share this message with friends and family and please post to social media. 

For additional information please cont
Patti Wukovits, R.N., Nurses Who Vaccinate Meningitis Advocacy Director 

Albany, New York


-CDC- Meningitis

-MAYO Clinic- Meningitis

MedlinePlus- Meningitis

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Nurses Essential in Ensuring All Children are Protected with Immunization

Nurses Essential in Ensuring All Children are Protected with Immunization
National Immunization Awareness Month is a reminder
 that we all need vaccines throughout our lives.

Parents consider healthcare professionals one of the most trusted sources in answering questions and addressing concerns about their child’s health. A recent survey on parents’ attitudes, knowledge, and behaviors regarding vaccines for young children – including vaccine safety and trust – found that 82 percent of parents consider pediatric health care professionals to be one of their most trusted sources of vaccine information. With so many parents relying on the advice of health care professionals about vaccines, a nurse’s recommendation plays a key role in guiding parents’ vaccination decisions.

“Because nurses are often the ones administering vaccines, it makes their expertise, knowledge, and advice vital in creating a safe and trusted environment for discussing childhood immunizations,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, assistant surgeon general of the U.S. Public Health Service and CDC’s director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. “How you communicate with parents during routine pediatric visits is critical for fostering parental confidence in the decision to vaccinate their children.”

The survey also found that 71 percent of parents were confident or very confident in the safety of routine childhood immunizations, although parents’ most common question is what side effects they should look for after vaccination. Twenty-five percent are concerned that children get too many vaccines in one doctor’s visit and 20 percent of survey participants are concerned that vaccines may cause autism.

“Reinforcing that vaccines are safe and effective can go a long way towards assuring parents that they are doing the best thing for their children,” says Patsy Stinchfield, a pediatric nurse practitioner who represents the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners. “One of the best ways you can establish trust with parents is by asking open-ended questions to help identify and address concerns they may have about vaccines. Also, restate their questions and acknowledge concerns with empathy.”

Make sure to address questions or concerns by tailoring responses to the level of detail the parent is looking for. Some parents may be prepared for a fairly high level of detail about vaccines – how they work and the diseases they prevent –while others may be overwhelmed by too much science and may respond better to a personal example of a patient you’ve seen with a vaccine-preventable disease. A strong recommendation from you as a nurse can also make parents feel comfortable with their decision to vaccinate.

For all parents, it’s important to address the risks of the diseases that vaccines prevent. It’s also imperative to acknowledge the risks associated with vaccines and highlight the benefits of vaccines. Parents are seeking balanced information. Never state that vaccines are risk-free, and always discuss the known side effects caused by vaccines.

If a parent chooses not to vaccinate, keep the lines of communication open and revisit their decision at a future visit. Make sure parents are aware of the risks and responsibilities they need to take on, such as informing schools and child care facilities that their child is unimmunized, and being careful to stay aware of any disease outbreaks that occur in their communities. If you build a trusting relationship over time with parents, they may reconsider their vaccination decision.

To help communicate about vaccine-preventable diseases, vaccines, and vaccine safety, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) have partnered to develop Provider Resources for Vaccine Conversations with Parents. These materials include vaccine safety information, fact sheets on vaccines and vaccine-preventable diseases, and strategies for successful vaccine conversations with parents. They are free and available online at

A parent's baby’s well-child visits can be stressful for the parent and their child, but there are ways to make them go easier. Get useful tips for soothing their baby when they gets shots by visiting CDC’s vaccine website for parents:
A special thank you and acknowledgement to the National Public Health Information Coalition and the CDC for providing the above information and resources.