Category Archives: Vaccinations

Free flu shots for kids at Kohl’s

Influenza prevention education is an important step to keeping kids healthy during the flu season. That is why the Kohl’s Cares for Kids program awarded Children’s a $441,259 grant in 2009, a $422,000 grant in 2010 and a $483,230 grant in 2011 to create the Kohl’s and Children’s Influenza Prevention Project for Kids. The project offers free vaccination clinics and educational assemblies in schools to teach children about flu prevention.

On Sept. 9 and 10, several Kohl’s locations will offer free flu vaccines for kids. Get full details on times and locations for the clinics.

Minnesota Vaccination Awareness Forum: A Call to Action for Parents, Providers and Communities

Congresswoman Betty McCollum (MN-04) and Patricia Stinchfield, RN, MS, CPNP, Children's Director of Pediatric Infectious Disease Services, at the Minnesota Vaccination Awareness Forum.

This post was co-authored by Congresswoman Betty McCollum (MN-04) and Patricia Stinchfield, RN, MS, CPNP, Children’s Director of Pediatric Infectious Disease Services.

Hodan Hassan, parent and vaccination advocate, speaks at the Minnesota Vaccination Awareness Forum.

Minnesota has long been a leader in childhood vaccination rates. But with success has come complacency.  The recent outbreak of now 23 cases of measles in Minnesota has brought to light the serious consequences of stagnant or declining vaccination rates.

Simply put, now is the time to stand up and voice our support for childhood vaccinations.

Our desire to increase vaccination rates – and decrease vaccine-preventable disease among our children – led to this week’s Minnesota Vaccination Awareness Forum, which we had the pleasure to co-lead today.

The forum was another great example of how public, private, and community organizations can come together to tackle an issue directly impacting our state. The goal of the forum was to kick-off a statewide call to action to rally parents, providers and communities around the critical importance of vaccination in protecting public health. We wanted to clear up myths and misconceptions about vaccines, while providing ideas on how to improve vaccination rates.

The forum featured a group of both national and local vaccination experts. We were honored to host Dr. Martin G. Myers, emeritus professor of the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston and director of the National Network for Immunization Information.

The panel at the Minnesota Vaccination Awareness Forum.

Locally, both Dr. Edward Ehlinger, Minnesota Department of Health commissioner, and Dr. Robert Jacobson, chair of the Immunization Task Force of the Minnesota Chapter of American Academy of Pediatrics, were on hand to provide their insight into vaccination trends in Minnesota.

But the speakers that stole the hearts of the day were the two Minnesota mothers and vaccination advocates – Brendalee Flint and Hodan Hassan – who told their own courageous and emotional stories. Brendalee told the tale of how her young daughter nearly died after a Hib outbreak in 2008, while Hodan discussed the impact that misinformation about vaccines has had on the Somali community. They pleaded with attendees to dismiss the myths and understand the devastating impact that delaying or opting out of vaccines can have on children.

If there was one message that rang loud and clear, it was that we all have a responsibility to ensure every Minnesota child is safe from vaccine-preventable disease.

Let’s make a pledge to link arms in this effort to gain “best in the nation status” on our vaccination rates – whether we are parents, health care providers or lawmakers.  Our state needs to lead by example, and again become a leader in childhood vaccination.

Congresswoman Betty McCollum serves on the House Appropriations and Budget Committees.

Children’s director of infectious disease services earns American Nurses Association Immunity Award

Patsy Stinchfield, RN, MS, CPNP, Children’s director of infectious disease services, earned the American Nurses Association (ANA) Immunity Award. She set precedent as the first nurse ever appointed to a key Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advisory committee on preventing national disease outbreaks.

ANA grants the national Immunity Award monthly as part of its Bringing Immunity to Every Community project. ANA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are collaborating on the project, which focuses on maximizing nurses’ role in increasing vaccination rates and reducing incidence of vaccine-preventable diseases. Stinchfield was appointed in 2004 by the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services to a four-year term as a voting member on CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). The committee, comprised of 15 national experts, provides guidance on the control of vaccine-preventable diseases and has strong influence on the nation’s immunization clinical policy. Stinchfield now serves as the liaison member representative of the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners to ACIP.

Minnesota Vaccination Awareness Forum live chat

We’re hosting the Minnesota Vaccination Awareness Forum today and want to hear your questions! Follow along as we cover they key points of today’s discussion. You can participate by posting a question below. You can log in through Facebook or Twitter, tweet with the hashtag #MNVaccine or enter your name to leave a comment.

New Children’s Hospitals and Clinics Report Highlights Minnesota’s Declining Immunization Rates

By Patricia Stinchfield, RN, MS, CPNP, Director of Pediatric Infectious Disease & Immunology Infection Control

The case of measles detected last week in Minnesota revives strong memories for me of Minnesota’s measles outbreak in the early 1990s. Child health care providers back then will never forget the panic among parents, the babies on ventilators, and the ones who did not survive.

We pay close attention when there is a case of measles because the disease is so highly contagious that even just one case is considered epidemic. While state health officials are still monitoring the confirmed case reported last week, it serves to show that vaccine-preventable diseases continue to be a problem. And that problem may well be due to a worrisome trend we see occurring not just in Minnesota but across the country.

Declining immunization rates.

This trend has the attention of Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota. As part of our series of reports on the health of Minnesota’s children called “Children’s Check-Ups,” we decided to take an in-depth look at immunization rates among Minnesota’s children, where they were slipping and why. Our report, called “Check-Up 2: Vaccinations and the Challenges Confronting Minnesota Children,” is now released and can be found at

We found that Minnesota’s immunization rate for children ages 19 months to 35 months dropped 3.6 percentage points from 2007 (80.5 percent) to 2009 (76.9 percent). As a result, Minnesota’s rank in immunization dropped to 20th place in 2009 from the seventh in 2007. We saw similar drops in vaccinations against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough (DTaP and Tdap), and chickenpox vaccine.

Quite simply, the lower the immunization rate, the more likely the disease will spread. Even a one percentage point drop is cause for concern when you consider that it means that more than 4,200 young Minnesota kids are left unprotected.

Last year, we saw a resurgence of whooping cough in Minnesota, which threatens to recur this year. Our report notes declines in whooping cough vaccination rates among young kids, and a poor showing among adolescents for the booster shot version.

We found two powerful forces contributing to declining immunization rates. The first is disparities in care, often linked to poverty, which limits access to vaccines among certain populations. The second is a growing mix of complacency, misinformation and misunderstanding that keeps parents from protecting their children against vaccine-preventable disease.

I had the opportunity to talk about these issues during Minnesota Public Radio’s Midmorning program on Tues., March 8. You can download the podcast here. We hope our report, by providing a clear, factual and in-depth look at these issues, can serve as a resource to inform parents, government leaders, health care providers and advocates about these issues, and to spark a meaningful and productive discussion of how to better protect our kids. They are counting on us to protect them.

Additional Resources:

  • Patsy Stinchfield, joins Good Enough Moms hosts Marti Erickson and Erin Erickson to discuss why vaccinations are important, how they have prevented the spread of disease in the U.S. and how being immunized also protects the people around us. Listen to the podcast

The winners of the Children’s/Kohl’s Flu Prevention video contest

This video from Bloomington Jefferson High School students won our video contest! The students will be awarded $3,000 for their school.

St. Mary’s School in Owatonna won second-place with its animated LEGO video.

Dassel-Cokato Middle School won third-place with its “Germinator” video.

Read more about the contest and watch all of the entries.

Podcast: Weighing Benefits Against Risks in Vaccinations

Patsy Stinchfield, Director of Infectious Disease and Immunology at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, joins Good Enough Moms hosts Marti Erickson and Erin Erickson to discuss why vaccinations are important, how they have prevented the spread of disease in the U.S. and how being immunized also protects the people around us. If you have questions about this year’s flu vaccine – if one or two shots are required, when infants and pregnant women can receive them and whether the nasal spray could work for you and your children – you’ll find the information you need!

Listen to the podcast