TIP In The News


A flu shot is good for you and for those around you

By Allison Winnike | December 08, 2018

Originally published in the The Eagle

We Americans had the best tool readily available to reduce these numbers by untold thousands. What happened? It’s simple and sad. Too many of us did not use that tool — the flu shot — for one reason or another. More than 40 percent of children went without flu vaccines, and about half of adults. The numbers were similar to previous flu seasons.

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Winnike: Flu season is here; Prevent what is preventable

By Allison Winnike | December 07, 2018

Originally published in the Rio Grande Guardian

Last winter’s flu season was a rough one, dominated by a particularly troublesome virus strain. But it did not have to be nearly as deadly as it was.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported that more than 80,000 Americans died of the flu in the 2017-2018 flu season, the highest number in four decades. More than 900,000 were hospitalized.

Nearly 12,000 of those deaths – about one in seven – occurred in Texas, which was hit particularly early and hard.

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Winnike: Flu is in the air

By Allison Winnike | December 03, 2018

Originally published in the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

Last winter’s flu season was a rough one, dominated by a particularly troublesome virus strain. But it did not have to be nearly as deadly as it was. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported that more than 80,000 Americans died of the flu in the 2017-18 flu season, the highest number in four decades. More than 900,000 were hospitalized.

Nearly 12,000 of those deaths – about one in seven – occurred in Texas, which was hit particularly early and hard.

We Americans had the best tool readily available to reduce these numbers by untold thousands. What happened? It’s simple and sad. Too many of us did not use that tool – the flu shot -- for one reason or another. More than 40 percent of children went without flu vaccines, and about half of adults. The numbers were similar to previous flu seasons.

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Reception for Dr. Peter Hotez’s Book, Vaccines Did Not Cause Rachel’s Autism

By CKW LUXE Staff | November 15, 2018

Originally published in the CKW LUXE

Dr. Erich and Shannon Sturgis hosted a VIP reception in their elegant home for Dr. Peter Hotez’s book, Vaccines Did Not Cause Rachel’s Autism, which was published on October 21, 2018 by Johns Hopkins University Press. During the reception, Dr. Hotez related his touching story about being an autism dad to his daughter Rachel and read excepts from his book. The heartfelt work details his experiences as a pediatrician, vaccine scientist, and loving father to an autistic child.

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Anti-vaccine Texas families may take their fight to day cares next

By Marissa Evans | November 13, 2018

Originally published in the The Eagle

Texans for Vaccine Choice, a group focused on anti-vaccine policy, says it has received hundreds of calls and emails from parents of children without vaccines who were rejected by private child care facilities. Now, the group has put a call out for those families to tell their stories. The plan: Collect as many responses as possible and present them to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission in an attempt to end those denials.

The effort has the potential to open up a new front in the fight over vaccines. Thus far, much of the skirmishing has been over public schools.

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Best defense for flu? Get the shot

By Allison Winnike | October 18, 2018

Originally published in the Houston Chronicle

Last winter’s flu season was a rough one, dominated by a particularly troublesome virus strain. But it did not have to be nearly as deadly as it was. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported that more than 80,000 Americans died of influenza in the 2017-18 flu season, the highest number in four decades. More than 900,000 were hospitalized.

Nearly 12,000 of those deaths — about 1 in 7 — occurred in Texas, which was hit particularly early and hard.

We Americans had the best tool readily available to reduce these numbers by untold thousands. What happened? It’s simple and sad. Too many of us did not use that tool — the flu shot. More than 40 percent of children went without flu vaccines and about half of adults. The numbers were similar to previous flu seasons.

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Cancer Survivor Shares Story To Help Boost HPV Vaccination Rate In San Antonio

By Bonnie Petrie | September 17, 2018

Originally published in the Texas Public Radio

San Antonio has the lowest rate of HPV vaccinated children of any major city in Texas, but a cervical cancer survivor is trying to change that by telling her story.

Liz Kapeel, 25, was diagnosed with cervical cancer in November of 2016. A recent graduate of Texas State University, she had just embarked on her life as an adult and was being treated for a cancer that the American Cancer Society estimates will kill more than 4,000 women this year.

"It was awful. It took about three months,” said Kapeel about the treatment. “I had radiation, external (and) internal, and chemotherapy, and just the way it broke me down emotionally (and) physically, is not something I would wish on anyone else."

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Opting out of vaccinations puts children at risk

By Catherine Cooksley | August 24, 2018

Originally published in the Galveston County Daily News

I was shocked to recently see the state health department report that over 1 percent — nearly 60,000 — of school-age children are attending Texas schools without all required vaccines. Many of those exemptions are because parents are choosing not to vaccinate based on bad information.

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Don't Politicize Vaccines

By Stan Spinner, M.D, Lindy McGee, M.D., and Julie Boom, M.D. | March 29, 2018

Originally published in the Trib Talk

Disease does not care if you are a Democrat or a Republican. Cancer does not care whether you voted for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. Influenza has no concern about whether you showed up to vote in the March primary election in Texas. As far as whooping cough is concerned, you can watch whichever cable news you choose and read the web sites of your choice.

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Winnike: Protect your child from HPV without consenting to risky behavior

By Allison N. Winnike, J.D. | March 03, 2018

Originally published in the Houston Chronicle

The numbers of cancer cases related to the human papillomavirus have been heading in the wrong direction, while far too few teenagers in Texas are protected with a simple two-dose vaccine that is proving remarkably successful at preventing those cancers.

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Winnike: One of the Worst Flu Seasons Still isn't Over

By Allison N. Winnike, J.D. | January 24, 2018

Originally published in the Houston Chronicle

Flu season arrived early and with a vengeance. We're confronted daily with saddening reports of how many people have died. In Texas, there have been 1,150 flu-related deaths reported between Oct. 1, 2017 and Jan. 12, 2018.

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Flu hits Texas early and hard

By Cindy George and Morgan Gstalter | December 21, 2017

Originally published in the Beaumont Express

The sounds of the season are sprinkled with sniffles, snuffles and snorts. All that hacking this early, before the end of the year, portends a potentially ferocious flu season, physicians and public health officials said this week.

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Physicians Recommend Getting Flu Shot As Soon As Possible

By Ed Mayberry | December 18, 2017

Originally published in the Houston Public Media

Flu season typically occurs between October and May, with the highest activity between January and March. In an average year, between 12,000 and 56,000 Americans will die from flu-related illness. Already this year there’s been one pediatric flu death in Texas, and a school closure due to an outbreak. Allison Winnike with The Immunization Partnership said the flu virus mutates, so scientists try to predict the strains that are going to be active.

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Local Health Officials Hope to Increase HPV Vaccination Rates

By I Heart Radio | October 11, 2017

Originally published in the I Heart Radio

What if there were a miracle drug that could prevent a wide range of cancers, but people were not receiving it?

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Op Ed: Flu shots protect both mother and unborn baby

By Allison Winnike | October 06, 2017

Originally published in the Statesman

Many pregnant women probably feel nervous after recent headlines about influenza shots. Researchers published a paper showing a small association between flu shots and miscarriages.

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Lakshmanan: Hurricane Harvey and disease: when to protect yourself

By Rekha Lakshmanan | September 12, 2017

Originally published in the Statesman

Our community has shown selflessness and resilience amongst the catastrophe of the storm. Neighbors helping neighbors by any means necessary. Thousands of first responders and volunteers waded deep into flooded communities to save countless lives. Emergency shelters are filled to capacity with children, adults, and vulnerable seniors. Now in the aftermath, the potential for the spread of disease is enormous.

 

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GUEST VIEW: Harvey: When to protect yourself

By Rekha Lakshmanan | September 10, 2017

Originally published in the Odessa American

Our community has shown selflessness and resilience amongst the catastrophe of the storm. Neighbors helping neighbors by any means necessary. Thousands of first responders and volunteers waded deep into flooded communities to save countless lives. Emergency shelters are filled to capacity with children, adults, and vulnerable seniors. Now in the aftermath, the potential for the spread of disease is enormous.

 

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Small anti-vaccine PAC has outsize clout in Texas politics

By Renuka Rayasam | September 01, 2017

Originally published in the Politico

Rekha Lakshmanan, director of advocacy and policy at the Immunization Partnership, which aims to eradicate vaccine-preventable diseases, said Villalba's experience caught the attention of other GOP lawmakers concerned about vaccines becoming a "litmus test" and triggering primary challengers.

 

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UHLC Research Professor Allison Winnike named CEO of Immunization Partnership

By UH Law Center | August 17, 2017

Originally published in the University of Houston

Allison N. Winnike, Research Professor and Director of Research for the Health Law & Policy Institute at the University of Houston Law Center, is resigning to serve as CEO of the Immunization Partnership, a non-profit public health organization based in Houston.

 

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Back To School Means Vaccination Time

By Don Morgan | August 08, 2017

Originally published in the KTSA

As the days leading up to the start of the school year wind down, experts are urging parents to make sure their children are up to date on vaccinations.

Rekha Lakshmanan at The Immunization Partnership says vaccines are a 20th century medical miracle, shielding millions of children from a number of deadly diseases.

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Back to School Vaccines

By Deborah Duncan | August 07, 2017

Originally published in the KHOU-TV

The Immunization Partnership Envisions a community protected from vaccine-preventable diseases.

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Vaccines protect Texas children

By Terry Cook | July 18, 2017

Originally published in the Statesman

Vaccines are one of the most important and life-saving medical marvels. For decades, people in this country and almost worldwide haven’t had to worry about outbreaks of polio, measles, chickenpox and other contagious illnesses, thanks to widespread vaccinations.

When kids are vaccinated, there is less concern that they will contract diseases when they go with their friends to the local swimming pool or the playground. Can you imagine being too scared to allow your kids to partake in these summertime rituals?

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Rising vaccine resistance and public health in Texas

By Rekha Lakshmanan | June 22, 2017

Originally published in the Texas Tribune

As the last days of Texas’ regular legislative session were winding down, the number of measles cases in Minnesota was heading upward. It continues to grow: There were more than 70 cases as of last week, most of them among unvaccinated children in the state’s Somali population. More than 20 of them were so severely ill they required hospitalization.

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How the Texas Legislature Reached a Dangerous Stalemate on Vaccines

By Alex Hannaford | June 21, 2017

Originally published in the Observer

It was mid-April, more than halfway through the legislative session, and Texans for Vaccine Choice was finally getting the fight it had been spoiling for. On April 11, a bill to require schools to report the number of unvaccinated kids had been heatedly debated in a House committee. Doctors, public health experts, parents and others had testified in favor of House Bill 2249, calling it a transparency measure that would simply provide information about vaccination rates at individual schools. The matter was pressing, they said, because more and more parents were opting their kids out of vaccinations using a “reasons of conscience” exemption created by the Legislature in 2003. Without action, recent high-profile outbreaks of mumps and measles in Texas would only grow worse.

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To keep kids healthy, knowledge is power

By Lindy McGee | June 05, 2017

Originally published in the Houston Chronicle

About six years ago, a Texas resident visited Minnesota three times to talk with its Somali community. Not just any Texas resident: This was Andrew Wakefield, the doctor disgraced for his widely condemned 1998 study claiming a connection between autism and the measles vaccine. Dozens of studies have since proven Wakefield wrong, but scientific fact hasn't stopped him from continuing to spread harm.

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CDC accepts all manner of reported vaccination effects--even symptoms of the Hulk

By W. Gardner Selby | May 11, 2017

Originally published in the Politifact

Addressing a physician during testimony about Texas laws affecting vaccinations, state Rep. Bill Zedler said a federal program that gathers reports of vaccination side-effects doesn’t draw in all kinds of outcomes.

The Houston physician disputed Zedler on that, leading us to roll out the Truth-O-Meter.

 

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People Who Don't Vaccinate Their Kids Are Selfish

By Jinny Suh | April 11, 2017

Originally published in the Cosmopolitan

When I first became a parent, I joined every mommy group I could find. I was nervous about the little life that was now my responsibility and looking for my tribe. At first, it was great. I went to playdates, shared parenting jokes online, and found a place where I could ask questions without worrying about being the annoying mom. Over time, though, that honeymoon phase faded because in each group, eventually, there would be a discussion about medicine and vaccines, and some members of the group, albeit generally a small number, would share that they had decided not to vaccinate, or were seriously questioning vaccine safety or efficacy.

Now, if you were to ask any of my friends about me, they’d tell you, I’m one of the most supportive parents out there. I believe in uplifting instead of judging, encouraging instead of tearing down. For almost every parenting decision out there, I can either relate or at the very least, empathize with your reasons. Parenting is hard and we don’t get a handbook. I get it. And while I don’t put on my sanctimommy hat about disciplining philosophies, diapering choices, or how you’re feeding your baby, my judgment nerve gets a serious workout when it comes to parents who choose not to vaccinate.

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Anti-vaxxer movement spurs call to post immunization stats by school

By Andrea Zelinski | April 10, 2017

Originally published in the Houston Chronicle

AUSTIN - The number of Texas schoolchildren who have forgone medical vaccinations has soared in recent years, leading parents fearful of outbreaks or who have children with weakened immune systems to urge state lawmakers to make school-level immunization data public.

 

Parents who opt against vaccinating are pushing back against calls for increased transparency, saying they want to protect their children's privacy and are hoping members of the conservative Senate will take their side.

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Protection vs. privacy: Parents of at-risk kids urge lawmakers to release schools' immunization rates

By Dagney Pruner | April 06, 2017

Originally published in the The Dallas Morning News

AUSTIN — Riki Graves remembers how scared she was when her daughter received a heart transplant at just 17 days old at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston. Her baby was the youngest person to ever receive a heart transplant at the hospital. 

 

Already fighting a breast cancer diagnosis she received while carrying her daughter, Graves and her husband called Juliana's transplant a miracle. 

 

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Op-Ed: Flu vaccines save all of us money

By Anna C. Dragsbaek | March 02, 2017

Originally published in the myStatesman

Let’s get something clear: Flu vaccination might be a personal decision, but the consequences of not vaccinating affect all of us.

Unvaccinated adults don’t just risk their own health and well-being — and those of the people around them. They also cost us $7.1 billion a year. And by “us,” I mean all of us. Taxpayers. Employers. Co-workers.

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Trump energizes the anti-vaccine movement in Texas

By Lena H. Sun | February 20, 2017

Originally published in the The Washington Post

 The group of 40 people gathered at a popular burger and fish taco restaurant in San Antonio listened eagerly to the latest news about the anti-vaccine fight taking place in the Texas legislature.

Some mothers in the group had stopped immunizing their young children because of doubts about vaccine safety. Heads nodded as the woman giving the statehouse update warned that vaccine advocates wanted to “chip away” at parents’ right to choose. But she also had encouraging news.

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Op-Ed: When it comes to vaccines, Bexar District Attorney LaHood is no expert

By Anna C. Dragsbaek | September 06, 2016

Originally published in the Trib Talk

Here’s something Bexar County District Attorney Nico LaHood and I have in common: Neither one of us is the person you should consult for medical advice for your children. We’re both lawyers. We know about legal matters. But the right sources of information for your family’s medical decisions are the medical experts: doctors, scientists and public health officials.

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COMMENTARY: Hidalgo Co. HPV vaccine rates improving

By Anna C. Dragsbaek | September 01, 2016

Originally published in the The Monitor

When the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine was released in 2006, it was a major breakthrough in the fight against cancer. HPV causes an estimated 5 percent of all cancers worldwide, and affects more than 38,000 people every year in the United States. The vaccine can help protect our young men and women from six different types of cancer. Even still, HPV vaccination rates in recent years have been slow to pick up.

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Group takes aim at vaccination rates as study shows Texas is No. 49

By Melissa B. Taboada | April 07, 2016

Originally published in the myStatesman

Nearly one-third of Texas children ages 19 months to 35 months hadn’t received all their necessary immunizations, data from 2014 show, ranking the state second to last in the nation in vaccination rates of young children.

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Governor’s disease task force should expand scope beyond Zika

By Anna C. Dragsbaek | April 01, 2016

Originally published in the TribTalk

Earlier this year the Governor's Task Force for Infectious Diseases was reconvened to continue discussing how to protect the state from infectious diseases. Most of the discussion was centered on Zika, which is appropriate considering its link to devastating consequences for pregnant women. ... But it’s important to note that this kind of threat is not new — a number of viruses can lead to poor birth outcomes, several of which we already have vaccines to prevent.

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OP ED: Solving Texas' Vaccination Problem

By Jinny Suh | February 19, 2016

Originally published in the Houston Chronicle

There are certain things we expect from our fellow citizens to maintain a safe and well-organized society: That people don't drive drunk; that grocery stores won't sell us tainted food; and that we don't encounter violence when we leave our homes. The same goes with immunizations.

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What Rubella Can Teach Us About Zika

By Steve Sternberg and Kimberly Leonard | February 03, 2016

Originally published in the U.S. News & World Report

Doctors say the rampant spread of Zika virus in the Americas evokes parallels to the rubella epidemic in the 1960s that disabled thousands of children in the U.S. and worldwide, prompting many women to seek illegal abortions.

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OP ED: Not enough youths get HPV vaccine

By Anna C. Dragsbaek | January 15, 2016

Originally published in the Corpus Christi Caller Times

Cancer can be devastating. That’s why breast cancer is the focus of many high-profile awareness and treatment campaigns. Cancer upends lives, sometimes proving fatal. It can require invasive surgeries, expensive chemotherapy and seemingly endless hospital visits. If there were a shot your adolescent could be given to prevent breast cancer, wouldn’t you want it?

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OP ED: Why you need the flu shot this year — and every year

By Anna C. Dragsbaek | December 14, 2015

Originally published in the TribTalk

At least 73 children have died as a result of influenza in Texas over the past five years. Seventy-three needless deaths that likely could have been prevented if more Texans had gotten their annual flu vaccine.

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Suh: Vaccinations are not a luxury: Why bad science is bad for Texas

By Jinny Suh | September 17, 2015

Originally published in the Houston Chronicle

Last night's GOP debate presented dangerous and irresponsible rhetoric about vaccines. In fact, it could only be described as fear-mongering. The ill-informed and disproven theory presented on the public stage is what makes the debate over public health so difficult.

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Dragsbaek: Recommended vs. required vaccines: What do kids really need?

By Anna C. Dragsbaek | August 25, 2015

Originally published in the Houston Chronicle

Colored pencils? Check. New backpack? Check. Vaccines? Time to do a double-take. Texas requires certain vaccines for all students each school year - so it's understandable that some parents might line up their children for those and ignore the longer list of immunizations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. After all, "recommended" seems vague, but "required" means they're super-important, right? Wrong.

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One year in

By David Muto | May 13, 2015

Originally published in the TribTalk

Anna Dragsbaek, who in October wrote "5 public health threats in Texas scarier than Ebola," was also surprised by the huge response to her piece, which she said was reprinted in several outlets and noticed by members of the Legislature.

"I didn’t need to be convinced about the value of op-eds, but it was proof that having the right topic at the right time is very powerful," said Dragsbaek, the president and CEO of the Immunization Partnership in Houston. "I was really happy that people were listening."

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Measles Control Made Easy: Stronger Laws Equal Less Disease

By Anna C. Dragsbaek | February 04, 2015

Originally published in the The Network for Public Health Law

Virtually no other set of public health laws have had as direct an effect on health as immunization laws. Strong laws lead to high immunization rates, which in turn lead to lower incidences of disease. Some diseases have been nearly eradicated such as polio, rubella, and until recently, measles. However, keeping immunization rates high takes constant vigilance. Unfortunately over the past two decades there has been a weakening of immunization laws in many states. 

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Amid measles outbreaks, non-vaccination movement grows

By Todd Ackerman | February 04, 2015

Originally published in the Houston Chronicle

Until her first daughter was 2 years old, Krystal Bettilyon was a faithful follower of the recommended vaccination schedule, not averse to shaking her head at those who oppose what's generally considered the 20th century's great public health advance.

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Rick Perry Law Led To Rise In Parents Opting Out Of Vaccines

By Amanda Terkel | February 04, 2015

Originally published in the Huffington Post

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) has stayed relatively quiet during the latest outbreak of potential 2016 presidential contenders stumbling on vaccination policy, even though he has perhaps the most interesting history on the issue.

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Op Ed: As measles threat rises, we can keep Texas safe

By Anna C. Dragsbaek | February 02, 2015

Originally published in the TribTalk

As public health professionals and immunization advocates, we understand that our work is largely invisible. If we’re doing our job right, most people won’t even know because, quite literally, nothing happens. But that “nothing” takes an awful lot of work, and it requires the support of both individuals and entire communities. 

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5 public health threats in Texas scarier than Ebola

By Anna C. Dragsbaek | October 01, 2014

Originally published in the The Texas Tribune

There’s no doubt about it: Ebola is scary. The disease has a high mortality rate and no known cure. No vaccine is available to halt its spread. And now it has arrived in Dallas — the first confirmed case in the U.S.

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New Vaccination Requirements for Your Children

By Christi Meyers | August 08, 2014

Originally published in the ABC13

We're seeing an outbreak in Texas of pertussis - also known as whooping cough - even though we have a childhood vaccine to prevent it. We've seen measles outbreaks in Texas, despite the measles vaccine. Yet despite these outbreaks, people in Houston are actually much safer than they used to be because of the work of one woman.

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Nothing to fear from migrant kids

By Anna C. Dragsbaek | July 16, 2014

Originally published in the Texas Tribune

As the humanitarian crisis on our border grows, many Texans have expressed concern about the possible spread of disease from the flood of immigrant children entering the state. These children supposedly pose a threat to national security because of the presence of tropical diseases in their countries of origin.

Here’s the truth: Texans have nothing to fear from these children.

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Immunizations lunch tells a heartbreaking vaccination story and fights the flu

By SHELBY HODGE | April 29, 2014

Originally published in the CultureMap

Kim Cotner David, Dr. Kelli Cohen Fein and Dr. Lindy Upton McGee chaired the luncheon that featured guest speaker Joe Lastinger, who lost his 3-year-old daughter to the flu prior to the time when flu vaccines were recommended for all children. On a happier note, the luncheon honored former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, his wife Barbara Richardsonand his sister Dr. Vesta Richardson with the Ralph D. Feigin, M.D. Award for Excellence, the three recognized for championing immunization education and their vaccine advocacy for preventable diseases.

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The Source: Is It Time To Get Tough On Vaccines?

By PAUL FLAHIVE | March 31, 2014

Originally published in the Texas Public Radio

A 1998 article in the medical journal "The Lancet" linked autism to child vaccinations causing an uproar. And though the research of that study by Dr. Andrew Wakefield, has been thoroughly discredited and no link in subsequent studies--of which their have been numerous--have been found, fears persist.

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National Premier of “Invisible Threat”

By Houston Hip and Haute | March 11, 2014

Originally published in the Houston Hip and Haute

Houstonians didn’t allow the wintery weather to deter their plans to see the National Premier of “Invisible Threat” at Sundance Cinemas, hosted by The Immunization Partnership. 

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Op Ed: The power of immunizations

By ANNA C. DRAGSBAEK | November 03, 2013

Originally published in the Houston Chronicle

It only takes one exposure to many vaccine-preventable diseases for illness to occur. For that very reason health care professionals take every possible chance to vaccinate. If an individual does not receive a needed vaccine on a visit to the doctor, it is known in medical circles as a...

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FOX26: 'Are You Vaccinated?' CDC wants to know

By NED HIBBERD | August 23, 2013

Originally published in the Fox 26

The Centers for Disease Control is seeking to find out how many American children are not fully vaccinated.

The CDC is spearheading a National Immunization Survey amid an uptick in diseases that were once thought to be all but vanquished.

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Houston Chronicle: Immunization advocate honored as CDC 'champion'

By ANNETTE BAIRD | June 04, 2012

Originally published in the Houston Chronicle

The president of the upper Kirby-based nonprofit group The Immunization Partnership recently was recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for her success in increasing the immunization rate across the state.

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