Patient with doctor
November 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: Webinar reminder, holiday planning tips, and new VEC videos, webpages and translations

Webinar reminder

If you have not yet registered for the upcoming Current Issues in Vaccines webinar, don’t forget to do so! Dr. Offit will discuss the latest information related to vaccines against COVID-19. The event will start at noon ET on Dec. 9, and free continuing education credits will be offered for the live and archived event (CME, CEU and CPE).

Find out more or register. 

The Vaccine Education Center gratefully acknowledges the support of the Thomas F. McNair Scott Endowed Research and Lectureship Fund for the Current Issues in Vaccines webinar. Webinars are co-sponsored by the PA Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics and Wilkes University.

Resources related to holiday planning

The November 2020 issue of Parents PACK offered tips for families as they plan for the holidays. Given the increase in cases of COVID-19 throughout much of the country, this article may be helpful for your patients and families as they prepare for the holiday season. Topics addressed include advance planning, travel and lodging, and during- and after-event precautions. The article is available online and as a printable PDF. It is allowed to be shared through your own websites and social media, as well as in print version.

Two other tools may be helpful for you and your patient population:
  • COVID-Lab: Mapping COVID-19 in your community — Developed by PolicyLab at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, this tool allows you to see COVID-19 test positivity at the county level throughout the United States as well as projections for the next four weeks based on social distancing, population density, testing capacity, and temperature and humidity projections.
  • COVID-19 event risk assessment planning tool — Developed by teams at Georgia Institute of Technology and Applied Bioinformatics Laboratory, this tool allows you to estimate the chance of at least one person being COVID-19 positive in gatherings of different sizes at the county level based on seroprevalence data.

New! Ukrainian translations

We are pleased to announce that the “My Vaccine Activity Book” is now available in Ukrainian language. You can access the files online: boy | girl

The Vaccine Education Center would like to thank Yevgenii Grechukha, Anna Bespala, and the Ukrainian Academy of Pediatric Specialties for making the Ukrainian translations possible. 

To see what other materials are available in Ukrainian or to review what is available in other languages, check out the “International Vaccine and Vaccine-Safety Related Informational Materials” page. 

Two new webpages address issues related to vaccine safety

Two new pages were recently added to the VEC website (
  • Fever and Vaccines — This page addresses the role of fever in immune responses, describes data related to fever for different vaccines, and provides guidance regarding treating fevers.
  • Blood-brain Barrier and Vaccines — This page describes the role of the blood-brain barrier (BBB), what can cross the BBB, and how we know that vaccines do not cross the BBB.

New Talking about Vaccines with Dr. Paul Offit videos address common questions about COVID-19 and vaccines

Dr. Offit recently taped several new short videos related to COVID-19. Eight new videos have already been posted or will be posted in the coming weeks: The videos will be accessible from the VEC’s “Videos and DVDs” page and on The videos will also be available as a YouTube playlist

News & views: Test yourself on the findings of the 2019 NIS and NIS-Teen

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

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released the National Immunization Survey (NIS) and NIS-Teen data. Because of the stay-at-home orders earlier in 2020, most recently, we have all been hearing and thinking about how to recover immunization rates, which fell precipitously (See these MMWR publications from May 15, 2020 and May 22, 2020 for more information). As such, some people may have missed the NIS and NIS-Teen publications.

While recovering immunization rates is critical, we cannot forget what these important data show related to immunization rates prior to the pandemic. See how you do answering the following questions that highlight some of the findings.

Questions about NIS findings

  1. Which vaccine had the lowest percent coverage rates?
    1. Hepatitis B
    2. Influenza
    3. MMR
    4. Varicella
  2. Why were the authors so concerned about influenza vaccine coverage rates?
    1. Influenza is so contagious.
    2. Children are more likely to die from influenza.
    3. The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic will complicate the 2020-2021 influenza season.
    4. None of these.
  3. What percentage of children did not receive any vaccines by 24 months of age?
    1. 1 of 100
    2. 2 of 100
    3. 3 of 100
    4. 4 of 100
  4. Which group of children had the highest rate of non-vaccination?
    1. Children covered by private insurance
    2. Children covered by any type of Medicaid
    3. Children covered by other types of insurance
    4. Children without insurance coverage

Questions about NIS-Teen findings

  1. Which adolescent vaccine had the lowest coverage rates?
    1. HPV
    2. Meningococcus ACWY
    3. Meningococcus B
    4. Tdap
  2. While rates of vaccination are increasing among adolescents, 4 or 5 of every 10 adolescents are:
    1. Not considered up to date on HPV and meningococcal ACWY because they did not get all recommended doses
    2. Not getting Tdap vaccine
    3. Immune to varicella because of exposure to disease
    4. All of these
  3. According to the authors, improvements in on-time HPV vaccination (starting vaccination by age 13) were the result of which of the following?
    1. More parents deciding to protect their children against HPV-associated cancers
    2. Prioritization of HPV vaccination efforts among various stakeholders
    3. Reduction in number of doses recommended for those younger than 15 years of age
    4. All of these
  4. Providers were recommended to take which of the following steps to increase adolescent vaccination rates?
    1. Promote well visits
    2. Use reminder-recall systems
    3. Follow guidance related to COVID-19 safety procedures
    4. Ensure that families are aware of publicly funded vaccine programs, like VFC, if they might be eligible, particularly given that many people have recently lost private insurance coverage
    5. All of these

In the journals: Pfizer’s mRNA COVID-19 vaccine

Paul A. Offit, MD, Director, Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
On Nov. 9, 2020, the pharmaceutical company, Pfizer, in collaboration with BioNTech SE, a German company, sent out a press release describing an interim analysis of their SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccine. Of the 43,538 participants enrolled in the trial, which were divided equally (1:1) in the vaccine and placebo groups, 38,955 had completed a second dose. After evaluating the first 94 illnesses in the trial, researchers found that the mRNA vaccine was 90% effective at preventing mild to moderate infection. This meant that roughly 86 people with COVID-19 were in the placebo group and eight were in the vaccine group. These observations were made at least seven days following the second dose, which meant that the vaccine was effective within 28 days of the first dose.

Pfizer pointed out that 30% of U.S. participants had racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds, but didn’t state the percent of participants that were greater than 65 years of age. The study plans to evaluate the effectiveness of the mRNA vaccine in preventing severe disease as well as effectiveness in those who had already been exposed to the virus. 

Pfizer stated that it could now produce up to 50 million doses in 2020 and 1.3 billion doses in 2021.

Technically speaking: Prevent shoulder injuries caused by missing the deltoid muscle when injecting vaccines 

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

It’s essential that you know how to choose the proper site on the arm when administering vaccines. A correctly placed injection not only will optimize the protection afforded by the vaccine, it also will help you avoid the risk of shoulder or arm injury resulting from an injection placed too high or too low in the arm. 

Knowing exactly where to inject a vaccine is critical whether you’re “catching up” children, teens and adults on their missed vaccinations during the COVID-19 pandemic, getting patients vaccinated against influenza, or administering COVID-19 vaccines in the near future.

From the media: For COVID-19 vaccines, ACIP will be a critical gatekeeper, Medscape interview with Dr. Offit

At the end of October 2020, Dr. Offit sat down (virtually) with Dr. Eric Topol of Medscape to discuss the recent Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) meeting as well as the process for reviewing and approving COVID-19 vaccines. 

Watch the interview or read the transcript. 

On the calendar

Check out the calendar for upcoming meetings and webinars.

Vaccine resources: Meningitis B video and resources for maintaining immunizations during COVID-19

“Best Friends Against Meningitis B” video

The Meningitis B Action Project recently released a video about the importance of meningococcal B vaccine. The video features the voices of the project co-founders, both of whom lost their daughters to meningococcal type B infections.

Resources for maintaining vaccinations during COVID-19

The Immunization Action Coalition (IAC) has created a repository of resources to make it easier to maintain immunizations during the COVID-19 pandemic. The repository houses links to a variety of resources, including policy and guidance documents, advocacy materials, telehealth resources and more. 

Check out the repository today. 

If you are familiar with a resource that is not included, the page includes an email address to alert the team, so they can continue to build this important tool. 
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