By Carol Hayes, CNM,
Immunizations are a hot topic, right?
There, I have opened Pandora’s box!
ACNM has been working with the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention (CDC) to improve
vaccination rates among women, especially ethnic minorities and pregnant
women. At this year’s ACNM Annual Meeting & Exhibition, there were exhibitors promoting
vaccines and some opposing them. Comments swirled about why ACNM would let an
anti-vaccine group exhibit, while some complaints protested that ACNM should
not be promoting injections of artificial material into pregnant women’s
bodies. Some midwives seemed skeptical; others were elated with the new campaign,
especially the lively posters, in English and Spanish,
Vaccines trigger an emotional response in many of us,
mingling misunderstandings with fear and rumor. Midwives are often so busy they
do not have time to read Quickening
or the Journal of Midwifery &Women’s Health,
or even all their e-mails from ACNM, much less stay up to date on broader
research done outside of midwifery. It is important that we initiate a
conversation based on fact.
The fact is that vaccines are very safe. We must try to move
past the emotional fear of them.
For the last 3 years I have been attending the meetings of
the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice (ACIP). This is a group of fabulously
intelligent individuals who review the evidence and advise the CDC on what
vaccines are recommended. Each year they publish the Childhood and Adult
Immunization Schedules. Under the Affordable Care Act, all insurance carriers
(but not Medicaid) are required to pay for all ACIP-recommended vaccines.
Listening to the speakers and the evidence during these
meetings is fascinating. I have learned not only about immunizations, but about
the rigorous process the CDC follows to ensure their recommendations are
unbiased and based on solid research. It can even be humorous sometimes, like when
jokes are made about the archaic FDA approval process (once a drug is approved,
nothing is changed in the package insert, regardless what new research comes
Attending the ACIP meetings gives me a glimpse into how hard
CDC works to improve public health, and how dedicated the ACIP committee
members are to improving the lives of US citizens. It has also brought midwifery and ACNM into
the conversation. I regularly am asked to express the views of midwives at the
I have had the pleasure of working with ACNM staff over the
last few months on the aforementioned CDC-funded project to improve
immunization rates. The grant allowed ACNM to produce a suite of materials to
answer your many questions about vaccines. The talking points specifically help
you create a dialogue with the women you care for, and address many of the
concerns expressed by women and midwives about the myths surrounding vaccines.
advantage of these resources, and help your clients become Supermoms!