“Many hats, many hats, many hats” is Carol Easter’s response when asked what her work was before she came to the Oregon Immunization Program. With an early career as a wedding coordinator, followed by 28 years as a registered nurse, Carol has definitely worn many hats.
Right out of nursing school, Carol started as a critical care and labor & delivery nurse. Critical care quickly became her focus, and she ultimately worked as a nurse at most of the larger hospitals in the Portland area. Later, in her position as a service coordinator for medically fragile children for the state, Carol was able to have an impact on the rules that were written for medically fragile children who are served by the Oregon Health Plan.
Carol worked in that position for over 12 years, and during that time she became more and more interested in vaccines. It was in the period that “autism was being related to vaccines, and I waited and I waited, and I read and I read, and I thought, ‘huh?’ I just got more interested in vaccines. I’ve always been an advocate for vaccines. My kids were the first in line for the HPV vaccine. I didn’t hesitate and neither did my daughter.”
Carol is excited about the work she will be doing in the immunization program. She just finished updating the standing orders and has been learning more about the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). She’s fascinated by the process: “who gets involved, how recommendations happen.”
Carol has two daughters, a 19-year-old college undergrad and a 23-year-old in law school. She is passionate about animals and has spent many years volunteering off and on at the Oregon Humane Society. She has also volunteered for school events and fundraisers as well as at community events for emergency preparedness. Carol still occasionally coordinates weddings. She loves history and travel. When she’s off work, she’s likely to be found at a local library or museum studying up on the past.
Carol brings a wealth of experience to the Oregon Immunization Program, but more importantly she brings passion for the work of immunization. And of course there are all those hats.
Whoop Whoop Whooping Cough is not as funny as it sounds
By Carol Easter, RN
Pertussis (whooping cough) can have serious effects on infants ≤12 months of age. The loud “whooping” sound can be heard in some infants along with violent and rapid coughing that repeats over and over*. Still other infants may have a barely noticeable cough while others might even experience apnea (where they stop breathing for a time), which can be a life-threatening event.
More than 41,000 cases of pertussis were reported across the United States during 2012, including 18 deaths.1
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has been considering how best to prevent pertussis in very young infants. DTaP** vaccines are not given until 2 months of age and this leaves a gap in coverage.
In 2012, the ACIP voted to recommend giving one dose of Tdap*** with every pregnancy between 27 and 36 weeks gestation.2 The Tdap vaccine given to pregnant women will stimulate the development of maternal antibodies. The antibodies will then pass through the placenta and help protect the newborn against pertussis.
Cocooning is another recommendation from the ACIP. People in close contact with infants ≤ 12 months of age should be vaccinated to protect against pertussis. The cocooning people might include parents, siblings, grandparents, child-care providers and health-care personnel.
Immunization in the third trimester of pregnancy along with cocooning efforts are steps that can be accomplished with education efforts and cooperation. The goal is that prevention will stop life-threatening events related to pertussis.
*The recording is of a young girl with whooping cough. You hear her paroxysmal cough first without a whoop, but she is a little sick. You then hear two more paroxysms, both followed by the distinctive whooping sound. It is the noise of breathing in, and it comes from the larynx (voice box).
**DTaP – Diphtheria and tetanus toxoids and acellular pertussis vaccine adsorbed (Pediatrics). Trade names: Daptacel and Infanrix for 2 months to 6 years of age. (In some cases it may be given at 6 weeks.)
***Tdap – Tetanus toxoid, reduced diphtheria toxoid and acellular pertussis vaccine, adsorbed (Adults). Trade names: Adacel for ≥ 11-64 years of age, Boostrix for ≥ 10 years of age.3
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2013). Pertussis (Whooping Cough): what you need to know. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/features/Pertussis/
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2013, March 22). Prevention and control of meningococcal disease: recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 62(2), 1–28. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr6202a1.htm
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2013). ACIP abbreviations for vaccines. Retrieved from www.cdc.gov/vaccines/acip/committee/guidance/vac-abbrev.html
EDITOR’S NOTE: Get ready! Oregon Immunization Program’s ImmiNews e-newsletter is now coming at you every single Wednesday, full of the latest immunization news from across Oregon and the world! Tell your colleagues and friends.