Vaccine Education Center

28 04 2011

Dr. Paul Offit, Director, VEC

The science of vaccines can be . . . daunting. The lists of ingredients and potential side effects make us want to second guess ourselves and our children’s providers. We need to be sure we’re making safe choices.

And the complicated schedules! They’re enough to make sane people pound their heads.

The folks at the Vaccine Education Center (VEC) at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia have a gift for presenting the complexities of vaccines and attending issues in a way that’s easy to understand yet comprehensive in scope.

The VEC website has a special section for parents and adults of all ages.  While there, you can sign up for the Parents PACK newsletter to get monthly immunization updates.  In the March issue, there’s a timely post on measles and the dangers of rubella parties.

You’ll also find age-specific information on vaccines and the diseases they prevent. There are FAQs, but if you can’t find your question, you can send it in via a form provided on the site.

The VEC has created a library of educational materials on specific vaccines and commonly asked questions. These resources range from information sheets to more consumer-friendly bookmarks and brochures.

They also maintain essential tools, including vaccine schedules, facts about vaccine preventable diseases, and the latest in vaccine science.

To keep information fresh, the VEC pens a monthly “Ask the VEC” on a myriad of topics.

Starting in 2011, the VEC will present three or four webinars a year addressing evolving issues, recent ACIP meetings, new science and media reports.

There are layers and layers of information available on the website, for those of us who feel more is better.  And what parent doesn’t?

The VEC staff constantly works at sifting vaccine fact from fiction and explaining the difference in ways we can all understand.  If you have questions, they’re worth checking out.

Is Social Media Worth It?

28 02 2011

Nonprofits are noodling around with social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter . While trying it out, we’re thinking about next steps and determining if incorporating social communications tools into our everyday work is a productive route to take.

 Given the limited resources faced by most nonprofits (especially these days!), many of us are hesitant to make the leap. How can we determine whether the return on investment (ROI) for social media will ultimately pay off?

The funders and the board members and the directors all want proof of ROI before committing. If you’re working in a nonprofit and believe in the need to get into social media, here are a few calculations you can make to determine the ROI for your social media efforts. Some of the biggies are:

  • Staff time – most organizations don’t have the budget for a full-time social media manager, so determining how much time is required for Facebook and Twitter curating  is a good beginning.
  • Tools – even though social media is mostly free, the tools supporting it aren’t always. Make sure your computers and systems allow access to social media tools like Facebook.
  • Installation, set-up and monitoring – someone has to have the technical expertise to set up the various accounts and monitor them for glitches.

According to Beth Kanter, a key player in nonprofit and social media education, social media ROI is worth calculating and there are many viable considerations to make when putting together your program. 

Is social media for nonprofits ultimately worth it? We think it is for PKIDs, but the answer for your organization may be “it depends.”

To learn more about social media for your nonprofit or health department, don’t forget to register for PKIDs’ Communications Made Easy program  and also visit the archive, which is replete with many recorded webinars.

Open Chats

30 11 2006

PKIDs’ open chat room is a real time, online place for parents to connect with other parents facing similar challenges.

Any registered participant may use the chat room at any time. We also designate weekly times to help parents meet up with each other. Currently those times are:

• Tuesdays at 9-10 a.m. Pacific Time (GMT -08:00)
• Tuesdays at 6-7 p.m. Pacific Time (GMT -08:00)

Registering for the open chat room is as easy as dropping us an email. Include the following information in your email:

1. Your name and contact info (such as an email, in case we have a problem registering you)
2. “Open chat” in the subject line
3. A username of your choice (which will be displayed when you’re in the chat room)
4. A password of your choice

We will send you an email confirming that you have been registered. You can then login to the chat room at any time by visiting the open chat room login page and entering your username and password in the boxes provided.

If you have questions about the chat (how to use it, e.g.), suggestions for improvements, or need to report abuse or technical problems, email us at

Virtual Connections

15 09 2006

I’m really excited about our new Virtual Connections offerings. Our goal is to provide fun and informative ways for people to get the information they want in a way that fits into their schedules, and to foster a greater sense of community among our families. Here’s the low-down on the Virtual Community features:

Blog – You’re reading it now! For anyone who received the PKIDs’ News mailing, the blog will fill that need – with the informative articles – and more, providing information about the organization’s activities and current events related to the topics we cover.

Live chats – We just launched two chat rooms: open and moderated. The open chat room will be for people to log into and chat with each other. This room will be open 24/7 for you to use at your convenience. The moderated chat room will be reserved for scheduled chats with guests and other experts. Our first moderated chat will be taking place November 14th with Phil Rosenthal, MD, as our guest. For more information on chats, please visit the live chats main page.

Newsfeeds – We’ve got four newsfeeds that feature current news articles on the following topics: Hepatitis, HIV/AIDS, Immunizations, and Infectious Diseases. We post new items a few times a week.

Let me pause to note that there’s more than one way to get our blog and newsfeed stuff. Choose the method that works best for you.

  1. You can subscribe to the blog and newsfeeds via email. For the blog’s email option, see the sidebar to the right. For the newsfeeds’ email options, see the newsfeed page.
  2. Subscribe to the blog or newsfeeds via RSS. If you’re not sure what that is, click here. If you’re still not sure, drop me a line.
  3. View them online by visiting the blog link or the links from the newsfeed page.

I highly recommend subscribing. That way, you automatically receive posts when they’re posted.

Podcasts – If you’d rather hear your news than read it, podcasts are for you. We haven’t got our podcasts up and running yet, but they’ll be as easy to hear and receive as the blog and newsfeeds. The podcasts will be MP3 files of interviews and such on various topics.

Listserv – As some of you know, we’ve offered a listserv for our parents for quite some time. We’ll continue to offer this, and in the future are considering forums as well. Forums are a great way to encourage community and support, just as our friendly listserv is doing.

I hope this paints a picture of our newest developments and the ones we’ve got in the works. As always, contact the office with any questions and suggestions!