August 2, 2010

Hopkins Nursing collaborates to immunize Baltimore kids

In a campaign that began July 22 in Baltimore, the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing is partnering with the university’s Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization to raise awareness for the immunization of children around the world.

Through a new program called “Breakthrough for Child Survival in the Poorest Countries and America’s Cities,” the partnership aims to educate the public about the life-saving importance of child immunizations.

Each year, almost 9 million children around the world under the age of 5 die from preventable diseases such as pneumonia, diarrhea and malaria.

Baltimore was selected by GAVI as the first city to participate in this campaign because of previous success in notably boosting its immunization coverage. Since 2000, GAVI has vaccinated more than 250 million children and averted an estimated 5.4 million deaths in 72 of the world’s poorest countries.

Among the speakers at the kickoff event was Peter L. Beilenson, health officer of Howard County, Maryland, and Baltimore’s health commissioner under Mayors Kurt Schmoke and Martin O’Malley. In his talk, Beilenson remembered what it took to get started with the drive to boost immunizations in the city, when a small group of health professionals and advocates began to make their case to political leaders. “The average parent doesn’t typically know the laws regarding vaccination schedules, so public health authorities need to push public officials into action in order to make immunizations a top priority,” he said.

Elizabeth “Beth” Sloand, an assistant professor in the School of Nursing’s Department of Acute and Chronic Care, will serve as a campaign spokesperson. Her work as a nurse educator, researcher and community care provider focuses on uninsured and underinsured children and youth in East Baltimore, Haiti and other Caribbean nations.

This story has been updated since appearing in print. U.S. Rep Elijah Cummings of Maryland did not speak at the event.