Oct. 17, 2000 Philadelphia, Pa. — In response to the growing need for complete, up-to-date, reliable information about vaccines and the illnesses they prevent, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia has launched the Vaccine Education Center, under the direction of internationally renowned vaccine expert Paul A. Offit, M.D., Chief of the Section of Infectious Diseases at Children’s Hospital. The Center’s Web site – http://vaccine.chop.edu - is a major resource for educating healthcare professionals and families regarding the often complex issues surrounding vaccines and vaccine safety.
"Vaccines are among the greatest public health achievements of the last century, and for most American children today, vaccines are a routine part of healthcare," explains Dr. Offit. "However, in some ways vaccines have been a victim of their own success. The dramatic reduction of many vaccine-preventable diseases has led some parents to question the necessity and safety of routine immunizations, causing them to delay or withhold vaccines for their children. Our mission is to give parents the information they need to make informed, responsible decisions about childhood immunizations."
Through its comprehensive Web site, the Center seeks to dispel some of the common misconceptions and misinformation surrounding vaccines. The site includes detailed information on all routinely recommended childhood vaccines, as well as sections on vaccines for special circumstances and vaccines for teenagers, adults, and those travelling to developing countries.
The site provides answers to commonly asked questions about vaccines, including how and why vaccines work, how they are made, who recommends them, whether they are safe, whether they are still necessary, and when they should be given. The site also features sections on the latest vaccine news, common concerns about vaccines, and the most current recommended childhood immunization schedule.
"We hope this up-to-the-minute resource will become a trusted and valuable tool for parents to use at home, for healthcare professionals and policy makers to use as a teaching as well as a learning tool, and for the media to get immediate and accurate information about vaccines," explains Dr. Offit.
The Vaccine Education Center has also developed "The Facts About Childhood Vaccines," a tear sheet that is available to pediatricians around the country to share with families in their practice who have specific concerns about vaccine safety. Future projects may include the development of additional informational tools; teleconferences and national symposia designed to help healthcare professionals address specific vaccine concerns.
An internationally recognized expert in the fields of virology and immunology, Dr. Offit is a member of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He has published more than 90 papers in medical and scientific journals and has written two books for parents, including "Vaccines: What Every Parent Should Know."
The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia has been the site of many pioneering research initiatives that have benefited children everywhere. Vaccine research and testing has been an area of considerable focus at Children’s Hospital. Among the vaccines developed or tested at the Hospital are those currently used for rubella, rabies, mumps and chickenpox.
The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the nation’s first children’s hospital, is a world-renowned leader in patient care, education and research. This 381-bed multi-specialty hospital provides comprehensive pediatric service to children from before birth through age 19. The Hospital admits more than 17,000 patients, and provides care in more than 50,000 emergency and 600,000 outpatient visits annually.
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