Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
July 2020
This newsletter is meant to keep you up to date on issues related to vaccines quickly and easily. We welcome your comments and questions at

Announcements: New Resources! and help when families disagree about vaccines

Are you getting questions about COVID-19 vaccines? Do you have questions yourself?

Check out the VEC’s new page dedicated to answering questions about COVID-19 vaccines:

This URL points to a page on the VEC’s website where people can get answers to common questions about COVID-19 vaccines or submit their own questions

Current sections on the page include:  
  • Types of COVID-19 vaccines
  • COVID-19 vaccine studies
  • COVID-19 vaccine availability
  • COVID-19 vaccine safety
  • COVID-19 vaccine news
We will continue to add questions and answers as they are submitted and hope this page can serve as a source of reliable information in the coming weeks and months. Please consider sharing this easy-to-remember URL,, with your patients, family, and friends or through your website or social media channels. Now, more than ever, it is important that we work together to ensure that the public is getting accurate — and honest — information about the pandemic and the tools for treating and preventing SARS-CoV-2 infections.

Families and vaccines: When opinions differ

When families disagree about vaccine decisions, the result can negatively impact multiple family relationships. Based on a previously published Parents PACK article, this new Special Topics Q&A offers tips for navigating these difficult situations. The printable sheet includes considerations for evaluating information, protecting unvaccinated individuals, and having vaccine conversations with different family members. 

Check out “Families and vaccines: When opinions differ” today! 

As with other VEC Q&A sheets, the new information can be photocopied for sharing or links can be posted on your own websites or social media channels. Check out the full set of topics on the VEC’s “Special Topics” page

Publication schedule notice

Please note that the Vaccine Update will not be published in August 2020; however, we will resume publication in September 2020. Enjoy the rest of the summer. Our Center will be open during August, so if you need to place material orders, have questions addressed, or need to reach out for other reasons, please do not hesitate to contact us by email ( or phone (215-590-9990).

News & views – What do we know about COVID-19 transmission at this juncture?

Charlotte A. Moser, Assistant Director, and Paul A. Offit, Director, Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

In early July 2020, news reports discussed a seeming difference of opinion between scientists and the World Health Organization (WHO). At its core the difference related to whether or not SARS-CoV-2 can spread through aerosolized droplets, and it wasn’t so much a “rift” as it was the process of scientific discourse. But, given the pandemic and lack of tools to control it, the discourse resulted in pressure that led more than 200 scientists to support an open letter stating that there was enough evidence of aerosolized spread that the WHO should be including it in communications about COVID-19 transmission. The scientists convinced the WHO to make this update, but the discussion may have created questions and left some of your patients wondering what we know about transmission of SARS-CoV-2 at this point? 

Read the full article to find more about:

  • Routes of transmission
  • Who transmits the virus and when
  • Takeaways for talking with patients 

In the journals – COVID-19 mRNA vaccine early data

Paul A. Offit, MD, Director, Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
On July 14, 2020, Lisa Jackson and co-workers published the results of a dose-ranging trial for an mRNA vaccine to prevent COVID-19 (Jackson LA, Anderson EJ, Rouphael NG, et al. A SARS-CoV-2 mRNA Vaccine—Preliminary Report. New England Journal of Medicine [preprint]). 

Forty-five adults between 18 and 55 years of age were divided into three groups of 15 people each. Each group received two doses of vaccine separated by one month containing either 25 micrograms, 100 micrograms or 250 micrograms of messenger RNA (mRNA) that coded for the stabilized pre-fusion SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. Antibodies directed against the receptor-binding domain of the spike protein are expected to neutralize virus infectivity.

See what they found, and get a link to the article.

Technically speaking — Choosing proper needle length for vaccination of children and adults: What should you consider? 

Deborah L. Wexler, MD, Executive Director, Immunization Action Coalition

Selecting the proper needle length when vaccinating your patients is critical — vaccine must reach the desired tissue site for optimal immune response to occur. To determine the proper needle length to use in each situation, you must consider the following factors: 
  • People of all ages:
    • The route of injection — whether it is intramuscular or subcutaneous 
    • The anatomic site of the injection
  • Infants and children:
    • Age must also be considered 
  • Adults:
    • Weight will also need to be taken into account
Go to the article for a summary of the guidance for choosing the proper needle length for intramuscular and subcutaneous injections in different age groups, based on CDC’s General Best Practice Guidelines for Immunization (Vaccine Administration). 

From the media — VYF’s State of the ImmUnion gets COVID-19 supplement

Vaccinate Your Family (VYF) recently updated the 2020 State of the ImmUnion report to address COVID-19. The supplement includes a nice diagram that demonstrates the differences between standard and pandemic vaccine development timelines. 

Check out the supplement or view the full report on VYF’s website. 

On the calendar

Check the calendar for conferences, webinars and observances. 

On the bookshelf – CDC offers “Pink Book” series

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is offering a series of free, pre-recorded webinars based on their book, Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine Preventable Diseases, which is more commonly known as the “Pink Book.” Webinars will be posted weekly, typically on Wednesdays, through mid-October. Viewers do not need to register. The following topics are currently posted or will be posted by the end of July:
  • Principles of vaccination
  • General best practice guidelines, part 1
  • General best practice guidelines, part 2
  • Immunization strategies
  • Vaccine storage and handling and vaccine administration
Learn more or access the webinars today. 

Vaccine resources: Preparing for current and future vaccines during the pandemic — Messages and resources

Several vaccine- and disease-related messages are important, yet competing for attention, amid the pandemic. Hopefully, these resources can help:

Message: Get adolescents vaccinated

The National HPV Vaccination Roundtable recently released several new resources to focus attention on getting adolescents vaccinated this summer. Called “Getting adolescent health back on track,” the program offers several resources: Related to this, and discussed previously in this newsletter, catching up all children is important. Check out the June Vaccine Update feature article, “Three Current Clinical Issues Resulting from COVID-19 and Resources to Help,” for resources to catch up on immunizations as well as to address COVID fatigue and return to office visits. 

Message: Prepare for influenza vaccine season

Late 2020, unlike early 2020, is likely to find both SARS-CoV-2 and influenza viruses causing disease at the same time. As such, it will be important to differentiate them and actively work to prevent both. While the masking, handwashing and social distancing being used to decrease spread of COVID-19 are likely to also decrease the spread of influenza, we have the added benefit of influenza vaccination. It is important to start planning for and discussing influenza vaccinations now. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently posted an important article, “The Difference Between Flu and COVID-19,” that describes the differences between these infections, including signs and symptoms, transmission, high-risk groups, complications, treatments and vaccines.

Message: Prepare for COVID-19 vaccines

When a COVID-19 vaccine is licensed, questions about the vaccine, concerns about safety, and plans for distribution will take center stage. Therefore, it is important to monitor what is happening as studies are completed and be prepared to speak about them with patients. The following resources may help:    
Access this article online
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