Boulder County Woman Receives CDC Immunization Champion Honor
Boulder County resident Lindsay Diamond realized several years ago new and expecting parents usually don’t have as much time as they would like with doctors to ask all their questions, especially about immunizing their child against contagious ailments.
She set out to change that, and earlier this year was recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as Colorado’s Immunization Champion for her efforts to fill in gaps of knowledge regarding vaccinations for parents-to-be.
Immunization Champions from each state are named by the CDC every year during National Infant Immunization Week in late April, and Boulder County Public Health next month is holding a private reception to celebrate Diamond receiving the honor.
“It was just a great honor in the sense that we’re being recognized for trying to promote immunization to minimize suffering and disease in not only our local community, but at the state level and national level,” Diamond said.
Diamond in 2016 co-founded a nonprofit organization formerly called Support Your Herd, since renamed Community Immunity, to help dispel the various rumored negative effects of immunizing children against certain diseases.
Starting this year, though, Diamond and fellow Community Immunity co-founder Karli Cartson began directly addressing the lack of time expecting parents have with doctors to inquire about immunization by leading portions of infant care classes at Boulder Community Health’s Foothills Hospital.
“Before we started coming to this class, vaccines weren’t a part of the curriculum. Parents aren’t getting enough information about vaccines while they’re still expecting,” Diamond said. “Their first visit to a pediatrician, they’re faced with this decision on whether to immunize, and you’re sleep-deprived, maybe a neighbor told you something anti-vaccination and that’s what’s in your mind. We thought we should try to talk to parents when they’re expecting.”
Simply informing parents when they should expect doctors to ask about immunizing children against a certain disease or group of diseases allows guardians to do their own research on each vaccination in time to be ready for an informed conversation with a doctor.
“The pediatricians don’t necessarily have time to answer all the questions and concerns parents may have, and parents may not have all their questions fully formulated,” Carston said. “We’re giving them the chance to do a little education, and show what the recommended immunization schedule is so they can be prepared to make that commitment ahead of time.”
Carston and Diamond, who have both earned doctorates in neuroscience and molecular biology, respectively, tout immunization as one of the most beneficial practices of modern medicine.
“Lindsay leverages her science background to make the science of vaccinations understandable and approachable for everyone. Her advocacy, leadership and collaboration are helping to transform our community’s attitudes and beliefs,” Dr. Indira Gujral, Boulder County Public Health Communicable Disease and Emergency Management division manager, stated in a county press release.
Boulder County’s immunization rates of school-aged children remain low compared to the rest of the state, ranging from 85 to 92 percent, depending on the vaccination, with the lowest rate for the combination of the tetanus and whooping cough vaccine, according to Boulder County Public Health spokeswoman Chana Goussetis.
“To protect our most vulnerable residents such as children, the elderly and those who cannot get vaccinated, we need an overall vaccination rate of 95 percent, which is called herd immunity,” Goussetis said.
Immunization rates for school-aged children in Colorado range from 90 to 95 percent, she said.
“In Boulder, specifically, I think there is this discord between living a natural lifestyle and vaccinating,” Diamond said. “We typically refer to this as ‘chemophobia,’ the belief that these ‘chemicals’ are dangerous. What we do in these workshops is try to address some of these concerns, about not only the vaccine itself but what’s in the vaccine.”
Sam Lounsberry: 303-473-1322, firstname.lastname@example.org and twitter.com/samlounz .