Check out our new blog!


Dear Reader,

We’ve worked hard to make MOMmunizations a useful resource for parents since it launched in 2012, and we’re proud of what we’ve developed.

At first, we wrote primarily for parents. We told their stories, we offered access to essential resources, and we shared powerful testimonials from pediatricians and survivors of vaccine-preventable diseases.

We will continue that coverage. But as The Immunization Partnership continues to grow and evolve, so must our blog. It’s time to expand our focus beyond parents — teens, young adults, and seniors need vaccines, too — and to integrate the stories and tips from our blog into our main website.

It’s with this in mind that we say goodbye to MOMmunizations here on WordPress and launch our new blog: TIP TalkThere, we’ll help readers more easily access additional tools, resources, and strategies they can use to speak up for vaccinations in their communities and online.

Please join the conversation by visiting:

Thank you for reading!

Anna C. Dragsbaek, JD
President and CEO of The Immunization Partnership

Thoughts on World Autism Awareness Day

In honor of Autism Awareness Day, we are pleased to re-post the blog below written by Dr. Peter J. Hotez. (Originally posted at “”) Dr. Hotez is an esteemed researcher of vaccines for neglected diseases. He is also the father of a child with autism and a highly engaged Board Member of The Immunization Partnership. While our blog pertains to immunizations, we wanted to take a moment to appreciate and applaud our colleagues who work tirelessly to uncover the real cause of autism. We applaud Dr. Hotez for courageously sharing his story to promote autism awareness as well as the importance of vaccines.


Thoughts on World Autism Awareness Day

Dr. Peter Hotez and his daughter Rachel.

Today is the seventh annual World Autism Awareness Day, a day when organizations committed to autism research, advocacy, or policy promote awareness through events and public discussions.

As both a scientist and a father of four – one of whom is an adult child with autism (as well as other mental and physical disabilities) and a second who is actually doing her Ph.D. on the developmental psychology of autism – I am often asked to speak or provide public comment about the autism spectrum conditions, especially their causes.

Indeed, the fact that I lead a multidisciplinary team that develops neglected disease vaccines while also serving as President of the non-profit Sabin Vaccine Institute and Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development often places me front and center in the dialogue about purported links between autism and vaccines.

For me, the issue is completely straightforward.  From a scientific perspective, there is no scenario where it is even remotely possible that vaccines could cause autism. Instead everything I know both as a parent and as a scientist points to autism as a genetic or epigenetic condition.

new paper just published in the New England Journal of Medicine by Eric Courchesne and his colleagues at the University of California, San Diego, confirms that the brains of children with autism have distinct patches of architectural disorganization in their prefrontal and temporal cortical tissue.  Because the organization of the cortex begins in the second trimester of pregnancy, Dr. Courchesne concludes that the events leading to the malformation of the cortex must begin around this time or perhaps before then, certainly well before a child is born or ever receives a vaccine.

These new findings make a lot of sense.  Another term for autism is pervasive developmental disorder (PDD) and indeed I am often struck by how my child’s neurological deficits are indeed pervasive and that there is no plausible way a vaccine injection could cause such profound structural changes to the brain.

Sadly, there are still widely held misconceptions about vaccines and many parents still continue to attempt to withhold or delay urgently needed vaccines for their child.  For instance my colleague Anna Dragsbaek, who heads The Immunization Partnership, tells me that each year tens of thousands of children in Texas do not receive their full complement of vaccinesbecause parents opt out due to unwarranted fears of adverse side effects of vaccines.

The results of not vaccinating your child can be devastating, such as in a recent measles outbreak in Tarrant County, Texas, and another one in Orange County, Calif., that were both totally preventable.  I like to emphasize that measles is not a benign illness, and can cause pneumonia, ear infections, diarrhea and in severe cases, encephalitis.

My research group works closely with the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington Seattle, which recently published findings indicating that worldwide 125,400 children died from measles in 2010, in addition to 81,400 from pertussis, 61,300 from tetanus, and almost one million from pneumococcal disease. We have safe and effective vaccines for each of these diseases and sadly, most of these deaths could have been prevented!

So on this day I hope to continue to educate the public both about our safe and effective vaccines, while focusing national attention on autism where it belongs, namely the urgent need for research on the autism spectrum disorders.

There are some excellent resources for the latest research on autism as and the lack of a correlation between autism and vaccines, as well as for parents to identify autism early, when intervention is most effective.

Here at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital there is some extraordinary work going on in our Department of Genetics and at the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute.  Our scientists are making extraordinary discoveries leading to the development of new and innovative interventions to combat autism.

As a parent and a vaccine researcher, it is my hope that we put all available resources towards finding the true causes of autism, while also continuing to fully fund the research of new and emerging vaccines that have already saved millions of lives and will save millions more in the next decade.  Both issues are critical to our long-term public health and economic prosperity.

By Peter Hotez, M.D., Ph.D.

Happy Trails To You…

…until we meet again.  It is with a heavy heart that I post this, my last “official” blog with the Immunization Partnership.  It’s been almost 2 years since I began working with TIP and what a journey it has been.  When I first began, I was a mother of two who believed in vaccination.  I felt it was important, but looking back I had no idea the real impact that vaccines have on our world.  Two weeks after beginning work on this blog my daughter was hospitalized for 4 days in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit for what turned out to be rotavirus.  Subsequently, we learned that she had mistakenly not received vaccination against this vaccine-preventable disease.  From that point on it all became very real for me.  Vaccines were not just a recommendation.  They were necessary.

I have had the opportunity to meet with award winning authors, brilliant physicians, and respected politicians who have made a huge impact and dedicated themselves to spreading the message that vaccines save lives.  My heart has broken as I have spoken with parents who undoubtedly have weathered life’s most horrific storm through the loss or injury of a child all due to a vaccine-preventable disease.  I am honored to have worked with these individuals and am truly inspired by their ability to push through their own personal tragedies and use their experiences to save countless families from traveling the same path.  To each of you I say a special “Thank You.”

thank-you-note11I must also express my gratitude to the amazing group of women who work at TIP.  Your selfless work has impacted more lives than you will ever know.  You have prevented illness and saved lives.  Your commitment to protect communities and your mission to “eradicate vaccine-preventable diseases by educating the community, advocating evidence-based public policy and promoting immunization best practices” is commendable to say the least.  No words can describe how grateful I am to have had this opportunity to work with each of you.  You allowed me to use my mind and my passion for writing for an important cause.  Just as significant, I have made friendships that I value and cherish.  “Thank you” simply does not express my appreciation, but for a lack of better words… Thank You.  Each of you.

What began as something I thought was important has become a true life passion not only for me but for my family as well.  Our eyes have been opened to the truth and that truth is that vaccines are vital to the health and well-being of our families, our communities, our nation, and our world.  While my journey to further educate myself and others about the importance of immunizations will not end, my documentation of it does.  With that I would like to welcome TIPs newest mommy-blogger, my personal friend, Courtney Dozier.  You have an amazing story to tell and I cannot wait to watch your journey unfold.

I am happy to say that my husband and I will continue to be involved with this amazing organization and do our part to encourage people to protect themselves and their families.  We look forward to seeing many of you in the near future.  And always remember to prevent what’s preventable.

Don’t Hesitate to Vaccinate

hesitateI get it.  I really do.  We all just want to do what is best for our kids.  From the moment they are placed in our arms we feel this overwhelming need to protect them from heartache, pain, disease and illness.  This desire, combined with an ever abundant amount of misinformation and misunderstanding of vaccines has led many parents to become vaccine hesitant.  For some, hesitancy turns into refusal.  What’s ironic is that in an attempt to protect children from the “dangers” of vaccines (which have been scientifically proven to be false), some parents are actually putting their child, and those around them, at greater risk.

I am fortunate to take my children to a pediatrican whose office requires new patients/parents to agree to follow the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) recommended immunization schedule.  At our last visit I asked our doctor how the practice came to adopt this rule.  He told me it was actually very simple.  The doctors in the practice all came together and said it’s simply not fair for children who can’t be vaccinated (whether because of age or because of a medical condition) to be exposed to children who are not vaccinated and subsequently come into the office infecting the waiting room and those around them with anything from measles to chicken pox.  Our doctor made it clear that he is more than willing to discuss any and all vaccine concerns with parents, but at the end of the day, he feels that it is his responsibility to provide a safe environment for his patients.  Requiring parents to adhere to vaccine recommendations is one of the best ways for him to accomplish that goal.

I believe that vaccine hesitant parents truly have their children’s best interest at heart.  In today’s world we are always a click away from information (whether right or wrong) and that has undoubtedly made an impact on parent’s concerns surrounding vaccines. It’s important that we arm these parents with the RIGHT resources to help them make decisions about their children’s health.  Great places to start are, as I mentioned, the CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and of course, The Immunization Partnership!  It is important that we spread that message that while vaccinating your child may seem like a personal decision, it is a decision that affects everyone around you.  A great example of this is pertussis (or whooping cough).  Most of the severe cases of this disease occur in infants under the age of 6 months (before they are able to complete the 3 dose primary series of the DTap vaccine).  If an unvaccinated child contracts pertussis, that child could then infect a newborn or infant who simply hasn’t had the chance to get fully vaccinated.

I strongly encourage parents to do their research, but you need to make sure that you are looking for reliable resources with sound, scientifically proven information and not simply searching for what you want to hear to justify fears concerning vaccines. It is important to remember that the power to prevent disease is in our hands.  Take advantage of the of the protection vaccines offer and protect yourself, your children, and your community today!

Vaccination Now…Protection For The Future

HPVA few years after I graduated from college the FDA approved Gardasil, a vaccine to protect young girls and women against the human papilloma virus (HPV) that causes most cervical cancers.  Gardasil was the first vaccine targeted specifically to prevent cancer, and was (and still is) an important advancement in women’s health.  Since that time a lot has changed.  In 2006 the vaccine was only approved for use in 9-to 26 year-old girls and women.  Today, we have another vaccine used to prevent HPV in women (Cervarix), and changes regarding who should be vaccinated.  These vaccines, given as a series of three shots over 6 months, are recommended for BOTH preteen girls (both Cervarix and Gardasil) and boys (Gardasil only) at age 11 or 12-years.  In addition, the vaccines are also recommended for teen boys and girls who did not receive the vaccine when they were younger up to age 26 in women and up to age 21 in men.

What hasn’t changed?  Parent’s concerns that vaccinating against this potentially deadly virus may cause a rise in sexual activity among vaccinated adolescents.  It’s really never made sense to me.  HPV is only one of many potential consequences that can come along with having sex.  Vaccination helps to protect against more than 20,000 HPV-associated cancers that occur each year in women and the approximately 12,000 HPV-associated cancers that occur each year in men.  So why would parents be concerned that vaccination would give their children a false sense of security that they are protected from unplanned pregnancies or a long list of sexually transmitted diseases?

Well, it’s time to put those concerns to rest. A new study from the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center shows that “teen girls’ and young women’s beliefs regarding the HPV vaccine, whether accurate or inaccurate, are not linked to subsequent sexual behaviors over the six months after vaccination.”  Data demonstrated that vaccination did NOT lead to riskier sexual behaviors.  Hopefully this accurate, evidence –based information will help parents understand that vaccinating their preteens is the right choice.  Parents have the ability to protect their children early and potentially save them from a battle with cancer in the future.  Make sure your sons and daughters are protected against HPV.

In The Beginning

newbornmac1Five years ago today is where it all began for me.  It’s when I began to truly look beyond myself and think about how my decisions could affect someone else’s life.  Five years ago today, I welcomed my first child into this world.  What a day it was.  If I could go back and live it all over again I would do it in a heartbeat.  That day, at exactly 10:01AM I remember feeling an overwhelming sense of love, joy…and then a little bit of fear snuck in.  Holding my son for the first time I remember thinking “This is really it.  This is really my child.  This is my responsibility.” By the next day it was time to make one of my first parenting decisions.  Do I vaccinate this brand new, perfectly healthy baby?  I had watched the news.  I had been on the internet.  I knew all the stories about Andrew Wakefield’s study claiming a link between vaccines and autism.  After reading all of the websites out there I was scared.  I desperately wanted to make the right decision for my child, but I wasn’t sure what to believe.  After discussing my concerns with the pediatrician, my husband and I made the right choice and vaccinated our son against Hepatitis B (HepB).

From that point on, I still had my concerns.  I had friends encourage me to delay vaccines and “make it easier” on my baby.  I wondered if they were right.  Are we giving too many too soon?  What’s the harm in slowing down a vaccine here or there?  Again, I turned to our pediatrician with my questions and she was able to give me scientifically based information as to why I should follow the guidelines for vaccinations as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

As the years went by (all too fast I might add), I became more interested in learning more about vaccines.  I wanted to better understand why I was choosing to vaccinate my child beyond just saying “it’s what my doctor told me to do.”  I learned a lesson that hit too close to home in 2012 when my then 11-month-old daughter (who was mistakenly unvaccinated) contracted rotavirus and spent 4 days in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at Texas Children’s Hospital due to severe dehydration.  Since then I knew vaccines were more than important…they were necessary to keep us and our loved ones safe.

Mac5My life has changed in so many ways over the last 5 years.  I believe I have grown as a mother, a wife, and a friend.  During this time I have also gone from a parent who vaccinated just because my pediatrician recommended it to a passionate vaccine advocate.  Take the time to read through some of my other posts to educate yourself about the importance of vaccines and the invaluable medical contributions they have provided to the world since their creation.  Happy birthday to my special little guy…and thank you for opening my eyes to the power of my decisions in the lives of others.

Time For Change

CDC-Vaccine-NationIf you look back through history you will find that medicine and science are always changing.  This is something that we should all be thankful for!   As more scientific research is conducted and more amazing developments emerge it only makes sense that new recommendations regarding our health and well-being will come to light.  These scientific advancements also apply to vaccine recommendations.  Just last week the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released the new/updated 2014 vaccine recommendations.

I have no doubt that the possibility of a changing vaccine schedule is viewed unfavorably by some.  Many anti-vaccine advocates point to this natural scientific progression based on research and development critically; even citing that doctors and scientists simply do not have all the facts and are unable to provide enough information to ensure vaccine safety.  This could not be further from the truth.  In fact, scientists, doctors, and health officials are dedicated to understanding, monitoring and preventing diseases and it is this commitment to saving lives that allows us to all be as safe and healthy as possible through the use of vaccines.  New and innovative scientific approaches to medicine are constantly evolving

Here’s a look at the 2014 Childhood Immunization Schedule and the Adult Immunization Schedule.

Seems like a lot to understand right?  Well, I’m going to leave clarifications for the Childhood Immunization Schedule to the professionals.  The best way to make sure your child is up-to-date is to check with his/her doctor.

So what’s new for adults?  Per the CDCs footnotes:


  1. Influenza vaccine: There are several flu vaccines available—talk to your healthcare professional about which flu vaccine is right for you.
  2. Td/Tdap vaccine: Pregnant women are recommended to get Tdap vaccine with each pregnancy in the third trimester to increase protection for infants who are too young for vaccination, but at highest risk for severe illness and death from pertussis (whooping cough). People who have not had Tdap vaccine since age 11 should get a dose of Tdap followed by Td booster doses every 10 years.
  3. Varicella, HPV, MMR, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B vaccine: These vaccines are needed for adults who didn’t get these vaccines when they were children.
  4. HPV vaccine: There are two HPV vaccines, but only one, HPV (Gardasil®), should be given to men. Gay men or men who have sex with men who are 22 through 26 years old should get HPV vaccine if they haven’t already started or completed the series.
  5. Zoster vaccine: You should get the zoster vaccine even if you’ve had shingles before.
  6. MMR vaccine: If you were born in 1957 or after, and don’t have a record of being vaccinated or having had measles, mumps or rubella, talk to your healthcare professional about how many doses you may need.
  7. Pneumococcal vaccine: There are two different types of pneumococcal vaccines: PCV13 and PPSV23. Talk with your healthcare professional to find out if one or both pneumococcal vaccines are recommended for

Confused?  Don’t worry.  Make an appointment with your primary care physician to make sure you and your family are up-to-date on all your vaccines.  Vaccines are without a doubt one of the greatest public health success stories.  Keep vaccinating to protect yourself and those you love.

A Night To Remember

invisible threatWhat a night!  If you weren’t able to join us last Thursday evening for the national premiere of “Invisible Threat” you missed out!  This film went far beyond my expectations.  I was shocked to see the raw talent and pure journalistic integrity that these high school students encompass and were able to project on screen.  As the film begins you quickly realize that the intent of this project was to present an unbiased, educational movie about immunizations.  The initial goal was not intended to share the life-saving power of vaccines, but rather to educate people about vaccines.  How do they work?  Are they safe?  Are they even necessary?  These common questions were answered simply and knowledgeably by high school students who were simply on a search for the truth.

As the film progresses we learned a little about the history of vaccines, saw interviews with physicians, an anti-vaccine advocate, a natural medicine doctor, and a retired United States Brigadier General. While all of these people were vital to the film, the most poignant of all were the stories of mother’s who lost a child to a vaccine-preventable disease.  As these mothers told their stories I looked to my husband sitting next to me and saw tears streaming down his face.  You could feel the emotion in the room.  These young film makers were making an impact.

But the message this film sends goes far beyond “go get your shots.”  It digs much deeper into the personal and even universal consequences of a world where people refuse vaccinations.  Even exploring the possibility that diseases that are all but eradicated from the United States thanks to immunization could easily resurface should immunization rates continue to fall.  The continuing myth that vaccines are in some way associated with autism is examined and the world’s leading medical experts on the subject provide proven scientific evidence that there simply is no relation between the two.

This film exposes the truth: vaccines save lives.

We also had the honor of hearing from a very distinguished group of panelists:  Lisa Posard, Producer of “Invisible Threat,” Doug Green, Director of “Invisible Threat,” Amy Pisani, Executive Director of Every Child by Two, Frankie Milley, Founder/National Executive Director of Meningitis Angels, and Dr. Carol Baker, Professor of Molecular Virology and Microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine.

And of course this night would never have been possible without the students who took the time and effort to make this amazing to film.  I’m not sure that they knew the powerful impact their hard work and dedication would have.  A special thanks to all the students involved in the making of this film.  I hope it’s a night they won’t forget…I know I won’t.

Invisible Threat: The Beginning

invisible threatIf you have checked our Facebook or Twitter pages this week you have noticed that we have a very exciting event happening next week.  We are beyond excited to be hosting the national premiere of the documentary “The Invisible Threat” next Thursday, January 23 at The Sundance Cinemas Houston.

I had the pleasure of speaking with the film’s producer, Lisa Posard (who happens to be the mother of one of the 16 students responsible for creating the film) and she was kind enough to provide me with the background of how this documentary came about.  Let me just say, this is an amazing story.

This whole project began at Carlsbad High School.  The school has a daily news broadcast each morning that is covered by local cable networks and is broadcast to all of its 3,000 students.  For the past 6 years these students have been considered to be one of the top broadcasting programs in in the nation and have been awarded 19 Student Emmys as a result.  Needless to say, this is not your average high school newsroom.  Eight years ago Doug Green, a former middle school English teacher, wanted to provide students with an opportunity to discover first-hand the background history of “The Diary of Anne Frank,” because he felt middle students just weren’t getting the real message.  They didn’t grasp what was really happening at that time in history.  In order to help them fully understand, Green had his Carlsbad High School TV (CHSTV) broadcasting students expand their journalism skills to a longer more in depth format and from that came their first film “We Must Remember.”  The creation of this film gave 16 American teens the opportunity to discover the horrors of the Holocaust first hand by traveling to Europe and even interviewing German teens who had Nazi grandparents.  This film was not only educational, but also strived to portray an anti-bullying message and promote tolerance.

Fast forward several years and multiple awards later, CHSTV was now being offered many projects from fully funded donors seeking to create documentaries.  The San Diego Rotary was among this group.  They asked that the students to create a film on the immune system and how immunizations work in a 15 minute educational video.  Initially CHSTV turned down the offer.  It wasn’t until Lisa’s daughter’s puppy contracted the parvovirus (which is a vaccine-preventable disease that kills puppies) that the concept of immunizations really resonated among the students.  They recognized that because someone else didn’t vaccinate their dog, another could lose its life.  The students then accepted the project and began their research.

Shortly thereafter, a local newspaper ran an article about the project.  Almost immediately there were hundreds of comments from anti-vaccine advocates as well as a blog on the projected featured on a well-publicized anti-vaccine website.  The 2 adults on the project, Lisa and Doug (a broadcasting teacher turned film maker/director) threw their hands in the air and decided to scrap the project.  It was Lisa’s daughter, a senior in high school at this point, who said “Don’t you remember what we learned from the Holocaust film?  What happens when good people do nothing?”  Lisa and Doug agreed.  They refused to be bullied and this tiny project slowly became a full-fledged 40 minute documentary.  It’s also important to note that Lisa, Doug and the students went into this project as journalists.  Not for or against vaccines.  Simply looking to tell the truth, and in all honesty expecting to find something to substantiate the anti-vaccine communities concerns.  Where there’s smoke there is fire, right?  Wrong.

But of course the story doesn’t end there.  To get the full experience you need to join us for the film’s premiere!  It’s not often that high school film makers receive accolades from some of the nation’s top physicians and medical institutions.  Don’t’ miss out on this amazing experience.  Get your tickets today and join us for a night you won’t soon forget.

The Healthy Life

healthThe push for a healthier life through diet and exercise couldn’t be more prevalent than it is right now. So many people are looking to live a more “natural” lifestyle free from chemicals, dyes, and processed foods. I for one am a big supporter of this way of living. Speaking from personal experience, I have seen the difference a healthy diet makes in my children’s attitudes and ability to concentrate in our daily lives. Having a husband who suffered a heart attack at a very young age and knowing that my kids are at risk of having the same thing happen, what we put into our bodies is very important to me. Don’t get me wrong, we still indulge every once in a while (I can’t imagine a life without the occasional slice of cheese cake!) but for the most part we do our best to keep it healthy!

That being said, I know there are a lot of people who can’t imagine how a life filled with all natural foods could possibly coexist with vaccines. How could you possibly think injecting something made in a lab into your body goes along with a “natural” way of life? For me it’s not hard to understand. My family eats the way we do because we want our bodies to be healthy…my family is vaccinated against a list of potentially life threatening diseases for the very same reason.

If you still have trouble with this concept I’ve got the perfect story for you. Earlier this week a friend sent me an email with a link to an article titled “Growing Up Unvaccinated.” This is probably the best story I have seen that explains why living a healthy lifestyle is simply not enough. This woman, who grew up with, as she calls them, “health-nut parents,” did not have a healthy childhood because she was never vaccinated against preventable childhood illnesses. But her story doesn’t just start and stop with her upbringing. She goes on and explains that while she still believes in and eats a healthy diet, she now receives vaccines AND makes sure that her children receive theirs. The difference in her childhood health history and that of her children is remarkable. As a child, this woman contracted what seems to be virtually every vaccine-preventable disease imaginable, was constantly sick, and treated more times than she could remember with antibiotics. Her vaccinated children on the other hand have “rarely been ill” and have been treated with antibiotics maybe twice in their lives.

One of my favorite parts of this article focuses on what many anti-vaccine advocates use as an excuse to skip vaccination: complications from vaccines. She says:

“I struggle to understand why I know far more people who have experienced complications from preventable childhood illnesses than I have ever met with complications from vaccines.”

Through her life as an unvaccinated child she has seen first-hand the devastating effects that preventable childhood illnesses can cause (deafness from measles, blindness from rubella and even death from meningitis). As a result, this woman made the choice to vaccinate herself and her children.

So if you think you can’t live a healthy and “natural” life with vaccines…think again. You can eat well, exercise, get enough sleep, but without vaccines you are just tempting fate. The only way to prevent vaccine-preventable diseases is through immunization. Do your part and start living a healthy life today!