Free Vax Ads – Please Use!

23 01 2012

Capturing the attention of teens and young adults isn’t easy. They see and hear a lot of info throughout the day and penetrating that noise with a message to vaccinate is difficult.

We developed these ads for anyone to use (see some samples below). So, feel free to use them and add your org’s name and contact info to them.

Click on an image to see a larger version then hit the Back button to return to the post:

If you have any materials you’d like to share with other vaccine educators, please add a link and/or description in the comments. Sharing such resources is a money-saver for all of us, and who doesn’t need that in today’s economy?





Teens, Vaccines, and Media

26 07 2010

How do I communicate with teens? This question hounds most providers as well as parents and teachers. Thanks to excellent research by the Kaiser Family Foundation and PEW Research Center, we know some of the answer lies in the latest media trends and technologies.

But what about health information? Most parents have to walk the line between gatekeeping and educating their teens about their own health and wellness. Nowhere is this juggle more apparent than in the realm of teens and vaccines.

According to CDC, teens 18 and under need Tdap, meningococcal, seasonal flu, and HPV vaccines, as well as to stay current with other childhood vaccines.

In 2008, CDC launched a pre-teen vaccine campaign, impressing on caregivers the importance of vaccinations for this age group as well. The host of recommended vaccines protect against diseases such as whooping cough, HPV, meningitis, pneumonia, and others.

Reaching Our Teens

Communicating the importance of vaccinations to teens isn’t just a matter of laying out the facts. Programs like GetVaxed, PKIDs teen and young adult site, attempt to reach adolescents using colorful, short, pithy health messages with extra punch and color.

Translating health messages, pithy or not, into action is a science that interests many, especially given the evolution of information-sharing with the onset of online and mobile technologies.  In a subsection of the Internet and American Life Report, Pew Research Center tracks the way teens use technology to communicate and get information.

As teens increasingly turn to texting as their preferred method of communication, parents and health providers would be wise to consider ways to text out health and prevention messages.

According to Pew, using texts to educate teens about STD prevention can be effective, though no data exists currently that addresses text immunization messages.

Given the importance of teen and pre-teen vaccination, it’s clear that parents and immunization educators would benefit from more outreach efforts targeting the favored language of teens (texts, Facebook, and the mobile Web).

The Kaiser Family Foundation’s report, Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8 to 18 Year Olds concludes that in the past few years TV as a messaging medium has largely been replaced by the Internet and mobile technology.

Parents and providers are still the trusted purveyors of immunization information for teens, but we need to adapt how we share that information with them to ensure receipt.

 





Itching to Get a Tattoo?

17 05 2010
A collection of tattoos.

Credit: Skype user "SwanDiamondRose"

Humans have adorned their bodies with tattoos for thousands of years. Even the Iceman, whose remains are about 5,200 years old, was so marked.

Why, then, is tattooing viewed with raised eyebrows by parents and secret longing by our youth?

As parents, we’ll put aside the whole “It’s a lifelong commitment and that cute butterfly on your arm is going to go all funhouse mirror on you when you’re old!” thing, and concentrate on questions of health.

We can’t speak for the secret longing of youth because those years have evaporated into the ether for us.

So, the health of it…

Those tattoos aren’t painted on. Your skin is punctured and the ink injected underneath. Because of this, you may end up with severe and long-lasting itching, skin infections, or even HIV, hepatitis, or other bloodborne diseases.

Tattoo regulations vary by state, and sometimes within a county or city.  Some are governed by the health department, while others are regulated by the department of cosmetology.

While there are regulations, not all tattoo parlors are diligent in following safe, accepted precautions.

A professional tattoo artist takes pride in his artistry and safety habits, and will encourage you to ask questions. If you’re determined to get a tattoo, do yourself a favor and follow these suggestions:

  • Ask if you can observe a tattoo in process.
  • Look around and note the following about your tattooist and the parlor:
    • What are the qualifications of your tattoo artist?  Ask to see certificates and credentials.
    • Is the tattoo shop neat and clean?  Ask to see the autoclave. Does it work?
    • Does the artist wash his hands and use and dispose of sterile gloves appropriately?
    • Latex gloves can be used only with water based ointments.
    • All equipment including needles, tubes, pigments (ink), ointments and water must be single use only, and come out of sterile, sealed, dated packages, or disposed of after use.
    • Ensure that all non-disposable equipment is autoclaved.
    • Watch for cross-contamination.
    • Be sure that the area is completely disinfected after each client with a commercial disinfectant or bleach solution.
    • Tell your tattooist if you’re pregnant or nursing, have a heart condition, severe eczema, or problems with keyloids. Your tattoo might have to wait, or may not be recommended.

This is not the time to look for a bargain!  If you want a tattoo, seek out a professional tattooist who is experienced, and follows strict safety practices in his tattoo shop.

And finally, please think twice about getting a tat where cellulite may form. It’s just, we can’t, it’s too…gah! (You’ll thank us later.)

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HPV Vaccine – Not Just for Girls

14 05 2010

The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine came out a few years ago and it’s recommended for routine use in females.

Now, there’s an HPV vaccine for males, and for good reason.  Boys and men can get genital warts as well as oral, penile, anal, and other cancers from HPV infection.  Also, if a male is infected with HPV, he can infect his partner.

Late last year, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended the vaccine for optional use in males.

So, why is the recommendation optional for males?  ACIP members are not sure if the benefits of vaccinating boys outweigh the costs to do so.

This leaves parents with a recommendation, of sorts, but nothing very clear.

Should you have your boys vaccinated against HPV?

Talk to your son’s healthcare provider. It’s important to get vaccinated prior to one’s first sexual contact, so that’s something to consider as you mull over your choices.

CDC provides some good information about males and HPV infection, if you’d like to start researching the topic a bit more.

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Meningitis: A College Memory You Don’t Want

21 04 2010

Going away to school is a lifechanging experience. For many students, four years disappear into a haze of studying, working, and partying with their classmates. It’s a chaotic time where everything is shared: space, feelings, clothes, cars, and germs.

When a meningitis outbreak shows up in the news, it’s a good bet that it showed up at a school. Any shared spaces like schools, dorms, or barracks where crowds of young adults converge are favorite territories for bacteria and viruses to spread.

Meningitis, a serious but rare infection, is an inflammation of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. It affects about 1,500 Americans each year.

Meningitis is commonly mistaken for the flu in its early stages, and therefore left untreated. When this happens, it can do a lot of damage within hours, sometimes causing confusion, seizures, and brain damage. Survivors are often left with amputated limbs—permanent reminders of their experience.

So what does meningitis act like and why are colleges a prime environment for it?

Most meningitis patients complain of excruciating headaches, unyielding fevers, nausea, and vomiting. Sound like just a bad case of the flu? More telling are other symptoms, which include stiffness and pain in the neck (due to the swelling around the spinal cord and brain), sensitivity to light, numbness or loss of sensation in limbs, rashes, mental confusion, and convulsions and seizures.

Most at risk are college students. Busy, exhausted, and stressed students often have lowered immune systems. A wide variety of lifestyles and health choices create a melting pot of germs, especially when bathrooms and eating areas are shared. Meningitis is spread through contact with an infected person’s bodily fluid: a shared cigarette or drink, a kiss, a cough. It’s possible to carry a germ that causes meningitis and never be sick, while unknowingly passing it on to someone else. There are lots of ways to spread it.

Many such infections could be prevented with vaccination. Some schools are now requiring proof of vaccination; others only provide information about meningitis. Before heading off to college, make sure you’re protected and know what the warning signs are. Parents, if you’re reading this, make sure your son or daughter is protected before they leave you.  It could be the most important going-away gift you give your child.

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Hantavirus – Rare and Deadly

29 03 2010

Spring is here! Time to clean, to sweep, perchance to dust far corners.

But wait, are those rodent droppings? Does that look like a little critter’s nest inside your box of outdoor tools?

Those droppings may be perfectly harmless, or they may be full of hantaviruses.

The hantavirus is carried in the droppings, urine and saliva of various rodents.

The virus is transmitted by breathing in stirred-up dust and debris infected with the virus. It’s also transmitted by direct contact with rodent debris through small cuts in the skin.

The hantavirus is responsible for hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS).

Although only 20 to 40 cases are reported to the CDC per year, HPS is serious and can result in death. Initial symptoms include fever, fatigue and muscle aches. Other symptoms may include headaches, stomach problems, dizziness and chills. Symptoms can escalate and include shortness of breath and coughing.

The sooner you’re diagnosed, the better. It’s a serious infection and, as reported by NIH,  “Even with aggressive treatment, more than half of the cases are fatal.”

The hantavirus is found mainly in the southwestern part of the U.S., although cases have been reported in all the western states and many of the eastern states.

So, how can you prevent hantavirus infection?  The CDC says “Seal up! Trap Up! Clean Up!”.

Look around your home or work place and be sure all food, including pet food, is placed in tightly-sealed containers. Clean up food spills as soon as they happen. Eliminate food and nesting sources close to your home or place of work.

Do you currently have an infestation of rodents in your home? Check for entryways around your home, and seal any holes to keep rodents out. Continue to trap rodents until a week passes without catching new rodents. This allows for enough time to pass to ensure that the hantavirus is no longer infectious.

Finally, glove-up and carefully begin cleaning, following at least 30 minutes of ventilation of the area. You can wear a dust mask to protect against floating debris or dust, but it won’t protect you against viruses, so spray affected items and the area with diluted bleach to disinfect and help ensure the matter won’t become airborne when you clean.

Whatever you do, try not to stir up the dust that may hold the hantavirus! Don’t sweep. Carefully pick up and dispose of moistened rodent droppings and other evidence in garbage bags and then seal them.

For more information on how to safely tackle rodent debris, read all that the CDC has to say.

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Freaky Friday #3

26 03 2010

Freaky Friday: We can’t guarantee the following bits of weird news are true, but we almost did our best to find out!  Enjoy.

Guinea worms—in through the mouth, and out through the… knee?? In some countries, larvae of guinea worms living in water fleas lives are ingested when people drink the water. The worms grow for about a year, unbeknownst to their human host. Then they begin the painful process of leaving the body through the skin, which can take up to 2 months.  Yes, that’s right, two months with a worm hanging out of some place on your skin. The host seeks out water to soothe the burning sensation, which is when the worm deposits its larvae—and the cycle begins again. Successful eradication efforts are now taking place.

Male walruses have a baculum the size of some baseball bats.  Modesty prevents us from saying more.

Hey, need some progesterone and just don’t have time to see your provider for pills?  Here, have a walnut.

Let’s see, if a hard working adult sweats up to 4 gallons per day, then here at PKIDs, we sweat up to…anybody got a measuring spoon?

How many kids go off to school with peanut butter sandwiches?  A pound of peanut butter can contain up to 150 bug fragments and 5 rodent hairs.  Eeeewwww. Where do we come up with this stuff?  More importantly, why do we do it? Hey, it’s fun.  And it’s Friday!

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