Wee the People

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Posted by: Matthew Helms on Mar 1, 2018

Dear Members,

We are sure that you were as shocked and saddened as we were following the school shooting in Parkland, Florida on February 14 that resulted in the deaths of 17 individuals, 14 of whom were children or young adults. We encourage you, as a healthcare provider who cares about the well-being of children, to become informed and advocate on behalf of reducing gun violence.

PPAG acknowledges that gun violence poses a significant public health threat to children. The American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) Council on Injury, Violence, and Poison Prevention Executive Committee has described that 1 in 4 injury deaths in adolescents/young adults aged 15-19 years is firearm related1. Furthermore, hospitalizations for nonfatal firearm assaults cost an average of $24,353 in direct medical costs1. PPAG recognizes the work published by our colleagues at the AAP regarding firearm related injuries in children.

PPAG also endorses the statement released by the AAP following the school shooting in Parkland advocating for stronger state and federal laws related to gun safety2. Furthermore, PPAG stands by our colleagues at the AAP by endorsing their statement “Addressing Gun Violence3,” which provides recommendations such as trigger locks for firearms and safely storing guns in a manner where children cannot access them. We strongly encourage the members of PPAG to read the recommendations made by the AAP (available in reference 1 listed below).

We know this is a controversial subject. Taking a stance on this topic does not strictly conform to our mission as an organization. There was significant debate among the Board of Directors, and this was not a unanimous decision. Our organization has a responsibility to public health and the opportunity to be bold and stand at the front of a wave that could shift public policy, making children safer at home and in schools. We hope that our actions will inspire other pediatric organizations to follow suit and endorse the statements from the AAP. As always, we hope that you will reach out to any of our board members if you have questions, comments, or concerns.

PPAG Board of Directors


  1. Council on Injury, Violence, and Poison Prevention Executive Committee. Firearm related injuries affecting the pediatric population. Pediatrics 2012;130(5):e1416-e1423. Available at: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/130/5/e1416.full.
  2. American Academy of Pediatrics. AAP Statement on School Shooting in Parkland, Florida; February 15, 2018. Available at: https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/pages/floridashooting.aspx.
  3. American Academy of Pediatrics. Addressing Gun Violence. Available at: https://www.aap.org/en-us/advocacy-and-policy/aap-health-initiatives/Pages/Unintentional-Injury-in-State.aspx

Posted by: Katherine Pham on Aug 3, 2017

A Healthy Start Begins With On-Time Vaccinations

National Immunization Awareness Month is a reminder that children need vaccines right from the start.

Immunization gives parents the safe, proven power to protect their children from 14 serious and potentially deadly diseases before age 2.

To celebrate the importance of immunizations for a healthy start and throughout our lives – and to make sure children are protected with all the vaccines they need – the Pediatric Pharmacy Advocacy Group is joining with partners nationwide in recognizing August as National Immunization Awareness Month. The first week of the month will focus on babies and young children and emphasize a healthy start for little ones begins with on-time vaccinations. PPAG members previously shared their approaches and experiences with advocating for on-time vaccinations during National Infant Immunization Week.

Today’s childhood vaccines protect against serious and potentially life-threatening diseases, including polio, measles, whooping cough, and chickenpox. What happens when we take away these protections are public health crises. There are many important reasons for parents to choose for their children to be immunized:

  • Immunizations can protect children from 14 serious diseases before they turn 2 years old.
  • Vaccination is very safe and effective.
  • Immunizations can protect others you care about.
  • Immunization can save families time and money.
  • Immunization protects future generations by reducing the prevalence of serious diseases.


When children are not vaccinated, they are at increased risk and can spread diseases to others in their family and community – including babies who are too young to be fully vaccinated, and people with weakened immune systems due to cancer and other health conditions.

Parents can find out more about the recommended immunization schedule at www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents. 

Pharmacists and providers can access the Vaccine Information Sheet (VIS) at https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/index.html. The VIS is federally mandated to be given prior to the administration of a vaccine. The fact sheets are provided as supplementary materials and can be used in addition to but not instead of the VIS. A VIS still must be given when a vaccine is administered. Healthcare professionals are parents’ number one trusted source of vaccine information, and discussion with either fact sheets or the VIS is a great opportunity to engage in effective communication with patients and their caregivers.

Thank you for your continued efforts to protect children from preventable diseases!

Posted by: Katherine Pham on Aug 1, 2017

August is National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM)!  NIAM is the perfect time to learn more about how to improve the vaccine conversations you are having with parents. Take a few moments to review CDC’s Provider Resources for Vaccine Conversations with Parents, which features recently updated disease fact sheets and other useful resources. CDC will also be hosting a webinar for healthcare professionals about how to have positive vaccine conversations on August 25th at 12:00 pm ETDetails will be available soon, but mark your calendars!

Provider Resources for Vaccine Conversations with Parents

Posted by: Katherine Pham on Apr 26, 2017

Some may say the diseases that vaccines can protect children against are not that bad if they get the illness, and are willing to accept the potential risk of mild symptoms. It's important to educate to patients and their parents that with all infectious diseases, the severity of symptoms and complications can range, and falling on the wrong side of that range can be very serious. When we take away the protections against preventable disease, children suffer. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. 

Take Nothing For Granted

"While in Haiti days after the earthquake a baby arrived from the overrun general hospital with 'seizures, r/o sepsis' written in marker on his chest. The baby would have occasional jerking movements but then would have absolutely normal vitals at rest when not stimulated. An attending physician from my hospital who is a well-published Emergency Physician said "I have written about this for 40 years but have never seen it. This is neonatal tetanus". We went on to care for 2 more babies and one teenager who sadly died from overwhelming rhabdomyolysis and renal failure. I was truly convinced of the power of vaccinations, both infant and adult, in that moment. If mom had been vaccinated, the baby would have been protected up until the time for his own immunizations to start. The teenager died because he never had the opportunity to be vaccinated as a child. I hope no one ever needs to treat another case of tetanus ever again." - Shannon M, Boston, MA

The Happiest Place on Earth

In 2014-2015, California experienced a measles outbreak, a disease that was previously considered eliminated in the US in 2000. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that of the 125 measles cases, 110 were California patients. Of these 110 patients, 45% were unvaccinated, 11% had an incomplete measles vaccine dose series, and 43% had unknown or undocumented vaccination status. Twelve of the unvaccinated were babies too young to be vaccinated. The disease wasn't just contracted by unvaccinated children. The 28 intentionally unvaccinated patients included 18 children and 10 adults. Just a rash? Of the 84 patients with known hospitalization status, 20% were hospitalized.

But That Wasn't the Biggest

Earlier in 2014, Ohio experienced a measles outbreak of 383 cases in an underimmunized Amish community.  Of the 383 patients affected, 89% were not vaccinated. As the authors concluded in this New England Journal of Medicine article, this epidemic was able to be mostly contained: "As a result of targeted containment efforts, and high baseline coverage in the general community, there was limited spread beyond the Amish community." Thank goodness for the high baseline coverage in the general community (aka HERD IMMUNITY!).

Nor the Most Recent

This story broke during National Infant Immunization Week 2017 and, at the time of this post, shows an outbreak of 21 cases in a Somali community of Minnesota. "The Somali community has been the target of misinformation regarding vaccines and a supposed link to autism." Misinformation has consequences.

As advocates for children, the Pediatric Pharmacy community supports immunization against preventable disease through education and dissemination of information from reliable sources.

 National Infant Immunization Week Blog-a-thon with woman holding baby. #ivax2protect

Posted by: Katherine Pham on Apr 25, 2017

Our members support immunization to protect children from preventable diseases, but how do they put this into action?

Stay On Top of It

"A couple of times a month, I sort my NICU census by age, just to see who is 60 days old, and needs immunizations. Those conversations help increase the top-of-mind responsibility for everyone on our team. It's a quick way to help babies leave the NICU better protected." - Kelly M, St Louis, MO

Practice What You Preach

"I was pregnant with my son the year the new recommendation was made to give moms a Tdap during the third trimester. I had to demand my OB give it to me!!! Fast forward, next baby, the OB was ready and even had posters in the office!" - Lisa L, St Louis, MO


National Infant Immunization Week Blog-a-thon with woman holding baby. #ivax2protect

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