CHICAGO -- Parents who are doing their homework on their child’s vaccines can go directly to the experts for answers – without leaving home. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) offers a series of audio interviews with pediatricians, researchers, advocates and other parents at

Interviews include a conversation with former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, who discusses her passionate crusade to ensure all children receive life-saving vaccinations. Dr. Richard Besser, the pediatrician who became the public face of the government’s swine flu response in spring 2009, offers advice to families preparing for a future epidemic.

Dr. Ari Brown, author of the popular “Baby 411” guides, dispels common vaccine myths. And Dr. Harvey Karp, the pediatrician who has coached thousands of new parents through his “The Happiest Baby On The Block” book and DVD, explains in clear, easy-to-understand language why vaccines are not related to autism.

Parents can listen first-hand as experts address specific questions related to immunization:

  • Why is it important to vaccinate on time?
  • What vaccines do adolescents need?
  • Why should infants get the Hepatitis B vaccine?
  • Why do kids need the flu shot?
  • Are some children extra-sensitive to vaccines?
  • Why are vaccines required for school entry?

August is National Immunization Awareness Month, which is a perfect time to remind people of all ages to catch up on their vaccinations. On the AAP’s Sound Advice page, parents can hear personal stories of people who have been affected by vaccine-preventable diseases. Frankie Milley lost her only child, Ryan, at age 18 to meningitis; she went on to found an advocacy organization devoted to protecting other children from the disease that took her son’s life. Pediatrician Anna Lincoln tells how pneumococcal meningitis threatened the life of her previously healthy infant son, Wiley, before a vaccine was available to prevent the disease. Now she counsels parents in her practice on vaccines.

“I welcome the questions,” Dr. Lincoln said. “I want parents to understand the vaccines, to understand why they’re important, to feel good and comfortable and confident in their decision to vaccinate their children. Although the diseases may seem low risk, they are not. We have to be diligent about continuing the schedule, because it can easily creep back to how it was before the vaccines, which was a time when children could be smiling one night, like Wiley, and the next morning, be fighting for their life in the intensive care unit.”

An interview with journalist Arthur Allen looks at how the media report on immunizations, and the resulting impact on public health. Ken Reibel, creator of the AutismNewsBeat blog, talks about his son’s diagnosis with autism. The audio interviews also include a message from actress Amanda Peet, who has partnered with the advocacy organization Every Child By Two to give parents the information they need about immunizations. Amy Pisani, executive director of Every Child By Two, and Mrs. Betty Bumpers, who co-founded the organization with Mrs. Carter, describe their personal reasons for promoting immunization.

Additional interviews feature pediatric infectious disease specialists Dr. Joseph Bocchini, Dr. Meg Fisher and Dr. Paul Offit; Dr. Judith Palfrey, president-elect of the AAP; Dr. Renee R. Jenkins, immediate past president of the AAP; and Dr. David T. Tayloe, Jr., president of the AAP.

“Parents are natural advocates for their children’s health,” Dr. Tayloe said, “and the AAP wants them to have the information they need about immunizations so they can make the right choices. The internet is peppered with inaccurate information about vaccines. We want parents to have a trusted place they can go for reliable advice. It’s important that immunization rates remain high or innocent children will become at risk for vaccine-preventable diseases.”

All the interviews can be downloaded to an mp3 player. Edited transcripts are posted.

The AAP has additional resources about immunization for parents and journalists:

Vaccine Studies: Examine the Evidence

Facts for Parents About Vaccine Safety

The Vaccine Schedule: Why is it Like That?

Questions and Answers About Vaccine Ingredients

Vaccines: What Every Parent Should Know

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