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  • Writer's pictureDoctor Anastasia

Happy World Immunization Week! => Top vaccination resources

World Health Organization World Immunization Week 2023 image

World Immunization Week: Mon 24 - Sun 30 April 2023

(Pssst... Prefer to watch a video? Check out my video on top vaccine resources for clinicians)

Question: What is the MOST effective public health campaign of all time?

Answer: It's actually clean water... But the SECOND most effective? That's right - vaccination!

Vaccination prevents up to 5 million deaths per year. Yet the global disruption caused by the COVID19 pandemic led to a worrying drop in worldwide vaccine coverage against more than 20 life-threatening infections. There has also been an erosion of public trust in vaccines, especially in high-income countries, with nearly 50% of Europeans surveyed reporting mistrust in vaccines.

Photo of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, with caption "#1. Clean water" over Neil and "#2. Vaccines" over Buzz

The global and local threats posed by under-immunisation are complex and far-reaching - definitely beyond the scope of any individual clinician to tackle! Vaccine hesitancy is just one component of that problem, and it can be a highly emotive topic, so clinicians may understandably feel nervous about speaking up.

But, as clinicians, we are in the very privileged position of interacting with patients and their families on a daily basis. If approached with sensitivity, patience, and reliable information, our interactions with vaccine-hesitant patients and parents could be life-changing. Conversely, if we handle these potentially challenging conversations with anything resembling judgement, dismissiveness, or misinformation, we risk alienating them and miss valuable opportunities to address their concerns and promote public health.

Luckily for us front-line healthcare workers, there are some fantastic resources out there, containing trustworthy, up-to-date and easily digestible vaccine information for clinicians, patients and the public. Please celebrate World Immunisation Week 2023 by checking them out!

1) Vaccine Knowledge by the Oxford Vaccine Group: My favourite UK-based resource, with bite-sized Q&As on each infection and its vaccine (including side-effects and ingredients). User-friendly enough to direct patients to, or even look things up together mid-consultation.

2) Vaccine Education Center by Children's Hospital of Philadelphia: As above, but USA-based. Run by Prof Paul Offit, a juggernaut in vaccine research and health policy. The Parents PACK is great, offering apps, games and stories from patients who have experienced vaccine-preventable infections.

3) Vaccine Safety Net by the World Health Organisation: If you can't find the answer to your own / your patient's vaccine query using the resources above (highly unlikely!), then you'll find it here. The Vaccine Safety Net is a global network of websites that have been verified by the WHO as offering reliable vaccine information.

4) Vaccine Hesitancy by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control: This one is a longer read and more technical (definitely for clinicians rather than patients). But it is a hugely important resource, as it catalogues the evidence-based approaches to effectively engaging with vaccine-hesitant populations.

Logos: Vaccine Knowledge (Oxford Vaccine Group), Vaccine Education Center (Children's Hospital of Philadelphia), Vaccine Safety Net (World Health Organization) and Vaccine Hesitancy (European Centre for Disease Protection and Control)

So, before you scroll past this, just stop and ask yourself: Do you know your thimerosal from your adjuvants? Do you know WHERE to find the data showing that vaccines do NOT cause autism, sudden infant death or epilepsy? Have you thought about HOW you would address a parent's concerns without dismissing or disempowering them? And if you don't think you're the right person to have this conversation with your patients, that's completely fine - but have you identified WHO is the right person within your organisation? Hopefully the high-yield reliable resources above will point you in the right direction. Happy World Immunization Week 2023 :-)

If you'd like to find out more, head to my YouTube channel for a short video.


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