Vaccinating children against infectious diseases is one of the most effective public health interventions of modern times, reducing the incidence of many diseases and saving millions of lives in the U.S. every year. These benefits, however, are threatened when immunization rates drop, either because of vaccine hesitancy among parents or more recently, because of disruptions to health care delivery because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This week, the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society (PIDS), in collaboration with partners at Children’s Mercy Kansas City in Kansas City, Missouri, and Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, is launching Vaccine Education from Training to Practice, a new educational program designed to provide health care providers with training and resources they need to be strong advocates for childhood immunizations and support high immunization rates.

This free online educational curriculum and electronic resource is designed for pediatric and family medicine residents, fellows in training, and anyone interested in vaccine education, including practicing physicians, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, and others. The program includes a curriculum created by the Collaboration for Vaccination Education and Research (CoVER) that has been shown to improve vaccine knowledge and confidence when counseling parents about immunizing their children.  A special thank you to the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America for partnering with PIDS and hosting the CoVER curriculum within their Online Education Center.

“Today more than ever, providers must be thoroughly educated about vaccine science and practice, knowledgeable about the benefits and risks of vaccination, aware of the challenges raised by those opposed to vaccines, and able to communicate effectively with families about these issues,” said Barbara Pahud, MD, MPH, the principal investigator for the CoVER project, who is also research director for pediatric infectious diseases and an associate professor of pediatrics at Children’s Mercy Kansas City and the University of Missouri-Kansas City. “A majority of pediatric training programs do not have formal training on vaccine safety or parental vaccine hesitancy. This program has the potential to help fill that gap.”

The first of the program’s four online educational modules, on vaccine fundamentals, is available now. Additional modules, covering vaccine safety, vaccine preventable diseases, and vaccine communication, will be released in phases over the coming months.

The program also includes increasing access to reliable, up-to-date vaccine information for medical trainees, practicing providers, and others through the latest edition of The Vaccine Handbook App, which contains the full content of “The Vaccine Handbook: A Practical Guide for Clinicians,” also known as “The Purple Book,” in addition to other resources. Written by Gary S. Marshall, MD, professor of pediatrics and chief of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, the app has been sponsored by PIDS since 2018 and is available to providers for free.

The app will be updated in early June to include the content of the upcoming 9th edition of the popular printed handbook, which will feature updates on how vaccination recommendations are made, new vaccination schedules, and updates on the use of several vaccines. The app is also integrated into the CoVER curriculum. “The goal is to provide a comprehensive vaccine education program to remedy knowledge gaps along the spectrum of professional development, beginning in residency training and extending into the practice years through lifelong learning,” Dr. Marshall said.

The PIDS Foundation is able to offer Vaccine Education from Training to Practice free of charge through unrestricted educational grants from Sanofi Pasteur US, Merck & Co., Inc., Pfizer, Inc., GlaxoSmithKline, and Seqirus USA, Inc.

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The Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society (PIDS) Foundation supports scientific and educational activities directed at preventing, diagnosing, and treating bacterial, viral, fungal and parasitic infections in children. The Foundation provides the resources for medical studies in basic sciences, translational medicine, and clinical trials to generate new knowledge regarding infections and for its dissemination to physicians, scientists, epidemiologists, and allied health care professionals through educational activities for Society members and students at all levels. Visit pidsfoundation.org for more information.

PIDS membership encompasses leaders across the global scientific and public health spectrum, including clinical care, advocacy, academics, government, and the pharmaceutical industry. From fellowship training to continuing medical education, research, regulatory issues and guideline development, PIDS members are the core professionals advocating for the improved health of children with infectious diseases both nationally and around the world, participating in critical public health and medical professional advisory committees that determine the treatment and prevention of infectious diseases, immunization practices in children, and the education of pediatricians. For more information, visit www.pids.org.