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Immunizations: Encouraging Supermoms with Evidence-based Conversations

Supermom Poster

By Carol Hayes, CNM, MN, MPH

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, featuring Supermoms!

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 out).

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 meetings.

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. Please take advantage of these resources, and help your clients become Supermoms!

Posted By Barbra Elenbaas | 6/9/2014 10:23:40 AM



Any opinions expressed in this blog are those of the individual participant(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American College of Nurse-Midwives. ACNM is not responsible for accuracy of any of the information provided by guest bloggers and/or members via the Comments section. We welcome all feedback – including comments, ideas and suggestions. We also welcome civil, friendly debates. However, any and all content that is deemed inflammatory or rude will not be posted.


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