All posts by bbrubach

Photo of the Day

Iron Lung

The Iron Lung, or Drinker respirator as it was first known, provides temporary breathing support for people suffering paralysis of the diaphragm and intracostal muscles, which are essential for respiration. The iron lung was developed in 1929, and it came to be an important tool for the care of sufferers of paralytic polio.

Aunt Betty’s Braces

Submitted By RK Bair, Chairman, Allegheny County Immunization Coalition

Being the last of the “baby boomers,” I have been able to witness first-hand numerous advancements in healthcare involving treatments, transplants and prevention. However, sometimes our successes become overlooked and then taken for granted. We sometimes become complacent. Few of us remain diligent against the diseases that were once thought eradicated.

In the United States, we are now seeing record numbers of cases of measles and Hepatitis A. We set a record in 2017 for the most number of deaths in children under 18 due to influenza. Not something that we should be proud of…

I remember growing up in the 1960’s and marveling at the lunar landing. My neighbor and I watched the television broadcast that day, in black and white. Eventually, my parents bought a color television and the whole world changed, we now had broadcasts from all three networks and PBS in living color.

I remember one day asking my Dad what were those braces on Aunt Betty’s legs. He shared with me that “she was one of the lucky ones” who survived polio when she was growing up. She needed those braces to keep her steady and help her walk.

I really didn’t understand at the time that my older brother and I, along with many others were the beneficiaries of the work that was done by Dr. Jonas Salk and his team in Pittsburgh. A modern, medical miracle developed here in Pittsburgh that would change the world. An immunization, a vaccine to prevent polio – every parents’ dream was answered. A vaccine to protect their children from such a devastating disease was available. During the 1940’s and 1950’s, over half a million people would die or be paralyzed each year in the United States.[1] Those days are long gone, or are they?

Over the years, there would be further advances in prevention and medical treatment. In our homes, we have seen microwaves become a staple in every kitchen. Hand held computers (today’s smart phones) were the brain child of science fiction writers in the 1960’s and yet, almost everyone has one with them at all times.

We are seeing advances at such a fast pace that we are not remembering or learning from the past. The advances in communications via the social media have caused many people to become leery of vaccines. Some fall under a false sense of security that we no longer need to keep diligent in the fight against long forgotten diseases. Wrong. We must always be diligent in the fight against Polio, Hib, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis, Hepatitis and so many more that we can help prevent today.

I guarantee that if a polio vaccine was available back when Aunt Betty was a child, she wouldn’t have had to wear those braces. She was “one of the lucky ones…she survived and grew to adulthood.”

Out of sight doesn’t mean that the diseases are no longer a threat.

[1] The history of polio infections extends into prehistory. Although major polio epidemics were unknown before the 20th century, the disease has caused paralysis and death for much of human history. Over millennia, polio survived quietly as an endemic pathogen until the 1900s when major epidemics began to occur in Europe; soon after, widespread epidemics appeared in the United States. By 1910, frequent epidemics became regular events throughout the developed world, primarily in cities during the summer months. At its peak in the 1940s and 1950s, polio would paralyze or kill over half a million people worldwide every year.

Help Celebrate Dr. Hilleman’s 100th Birthday!

It’s Dr. Hilleman’s 100th birthday, but YOU are getting the gift! Gather your friends and make some popcorn!  

In honor of the 100th anniversary of Dr. Hilleman’s birth, the complete version of the award-winning documentary HILLEMAN – A Perilous Quest to Save the World’s Children will be available to view for free on August 30, 2019.*

Check back here ( on August 30, 2019,* for links to view the film in English or with subtitling in Spanish, Portuguese, or Romanian languages!

We hope you will be able to enjoy the movie about this incredible scientist on the centennial of his birth. Please feel free to share this invitation with others who might be interested.

*The film will be available for free viewing from 6:00 PM ET August 29, 2019 through 12:00 PM ET August 31, 2019.

ACIC Member Dr. William Coppula awarded Pennsylvania Immunization Champion

The Pennsylvania Immunization Coalition (PAIC) awarded its 2019 “Pennsylvania Immunization Champion Award” to ACIC Member Dr. William F. Coppula on June 26, 2019 during the Annual PAIC Meeting.

The Champion Award recognizes individuals and/or teams who are working at the local level. It honors those who are doing an exemplary job or going above and beyond to promise or foster childhood immunizations among children in their schools and create systems to enhance vaccine administration to improve overall vaccination rates.

Dr. Coppula’s wealth of knowledge of immunizations, both pediatric and adult as well as their significance in the safety of our communities is but a small part of the caring man he is. He is the champion of children as they grow from infancy into young adulthood. His leadership in the pediatric practice where he works guarantees the most updated vaccine information is available and utilized for the safest administration of vaccines.

When relocating the office, he spearheaded the placement of a costly outside generator to ensure the safety of vaccine storage should there be a power outage. He stays abreast of the latest developments in immunization and has always been a proponent of educating both this staff and the caregivers of his patients. His unending patience with children of all ages and worried parents has always been one of his strong points. He is always sending tasks to his triage nurses to check on conditions of his patients as well as making follow up calls himself.

Dr. Coppula’s compassion for his patients and families is truly remarkable. His generosity and caring extends to his staff at Arcadia as well.

Health Department Reports Case of Measles in the City of Pittsburgh

April 30, 2019

PITTSBURGH – The Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) is reporting the first case of measles in 2019 in an adult county resident. The individual, who is not vaccinated, recently traveled internationally. This case is not linked to any ongoing measles outbreak in the U.S. The resident was treated and discharged from UPMC Shadyside emergency room on Monday, April 29, 2019, and is currently recovering at home. UPMC is notifying and evaluating patients and staff who may have come in contact with the individual.

The individual was potentially contagious starting on Thursday, April 25, 2019, and potential exposures may have occurred at the following locations and times:

  • Giant Eagle Market District (5550 Centre Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15232)
    – Friday, April 26, 2019: 6:30 p.m. – 9 p.m.
    – Sunday, April 28, 2019: 2:45 p.m. – 5 p.m.
  • ALDI (5631 Baum Blvd, Pittsburgh, PA 15206)
    – Friday, April 26, 2019: 6:30 p.m. – 8:45 p.m.

Because that individual has potentially exposed others, the Health Department is urging anyone who is susceptible to measles or who may have been in the same locations during the indicated times who becomes ill with symptoms of measles to contact their primary care provider immediately. If a person has been exposed, symptoms would be seen between now and May 20.

Measles is a highly contagious but vaccine-preventable disease that spreads through coughing, sneezing or other contact with the mucus or saliva of an infected person. Symptoms typically appear 1-to-3 weeks after infection and include: rash; high fever; cough; and red, watery eyes.

“If you believe you have symptoms of measles, please contact your primary care provider immediately to notify them that you may have been exposed,” said Health Department Director Dr. Karen Hacker.

“Do not go directly to the office, urgent care center or emergency room, as this may expose other persons. Pregnant women should contact their doctor about their immune status. Health care providers who suspect measles should call the Health Department at 412-687-ACHD (2243) for consultation and to arrange testing.

Most importantly, get your measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine as soon as possible if you haven’t already done so. Vaccines not only protect you and your loved ones, they protect those whose immune systems are compromised, which includes infants and the elderly.”
While most people are not at risk because they have been immunized or have had measles, those most at risk, according to Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), are:

  • Infants less than one year of age who are too young to have received the MMR vaccine;
  • Individuals who refused vaccination; and
  • Individuals from parts of the world where there is low vaccination coverage or circulating measles.

The MMR vaccine is given to toddlers when they are 12-to-15 months of age, and a second MMR vaccine is recommended at age 4 to 6 years of age and required for all Pennsylvania school children.

Adults born during or after 1957 who have not had two doses of vaccine or documented disease should be vaccinated with one dose of MMR vaccine. The MMR vaccine also can help prevent infection if it is given within three days of exposure.

ACHD recommends that any person who is due for measles vaccination schedule an appointment to receive it from their medical provider. The vaccine is also available at the Health Department’s immunization clinic, located at 425 First Avenue, Fourth Floor, in downtown Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh PA 15219 (entrance is on Cherry Way). There is no risk in getting an additional dose of the MMR vaccine for individuals who may have already received it. Clinic hours are: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., and on Wednesday: 1 p.m. – 8 p.m.
# # #

The Maurice R. Hilleman Essay Contest for Students

To commemorate Dr. Hilleman’s remarkable legacy, the Vaccine Makers Project of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is holding a student essay contest. Students in grades 6 to 12 are invited to learn about Dr. Hilleman’s life and accomplishments and submit a 500-600 word essay that answers the question, “How would the world be different if Dr. Hilleman had not lived the life he did?”

Contest dates
Entries are open now through June 7, 2019.

Contest winners and prizes
Essays will be judged on adherence to the submission guidelines, grammar and language, originality and organization. Judging will take into consideration author’s age. Each of three winners will receive a $1,000 cash prize and a trip to Philadelphia for September 18-20, 2019, including:

  • Round trip transportation to Philadelphia for each winner and chaperone*
  • Hotel room for each winner and chaperone to share for two nights in Philadelphia*
  • Tour of labs at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute and breakfast with CHOP scientist
  • Two (2) tickets to the Franklin Institute
  • Two (2) Philadelphia City Passes to see 3 attractions
  • Dinner with Hilleman Film movie production team

Attendance at “Memories of Maurice” evening reception where winners will share their winning essays and receive their awards
* Transportation and accommodations coordinated through Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Eligibility and entry 
Students in grades 6 to 12 living in the United States, District of Columbia, or U.S. Territories and currently enrolled in a school in the United States are eligible to participate. Students must be enrolled in a public, private, cyber, religious or charter school, or attend a home school program. Interested students should compose a 500-600 word essay that answers the essay question and submit their essay, according to the contest requirements, along with the required entry and permissions form, found on the Hilleman film website by the contest deadline of June 7, 2019. Visit the essay contest page to learn more or access the rules and the entry and permissions form.

Visit to:

Bonus for teachers 
As a bonus, the teacher named in each winning entry will receive a signed copy of Vaccinated: One Man’s Quest to Defeat the World’s Deadliest Diseases, Dr. Hilleman’s biography, written by Paul A. Offit, MD.

Questions about the essay contest, the Hilleman film, the Vaccine Makers Project or other Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia projects, programs, or resources? Please contact

ACHD Issues School Immunization Report for 2017-18

The Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) requires all schools (public, private/independent, parochial/religious, charter, and cyber) to submit the immunization status of their students annually to ensure that schools in Allegheny County are complying with state and county immunization regulations, .

This report, which summarizes the county’s immunization data for the 2017-18 school year, is organized into four parts: 1) overall immunization, 2) provisional enrollment, 3) immunization exemptions, and 4) immunization status by type of vaccine.

Data are primarily presented by school type or by grade. Also included are data from previous school years.


  • The percentage of students with all immunizations required for school entry was 96.3% in December 2017, which is above the Healthy People 2020 goal of 95% coverage.
  • The only grade that did not exceed 95% complete immunization coverage was 12th grade (92.9%), as this grade had new immunization requirements for students.
  • The majority of Allegheny County schools (78.0%) had at least 95% of their students fully immunized.
  • In Allegheny County, 0.7% of all students started school in the fall with provisional enrollment status; kindergarten (1.1%) and 12th grade (2.9%) had higher percentages of students enrolled provisionally due to new or additional immunization requirements.
  • Overall, 3.0% of students submitted medical or religious exemptions. Parochial/religious schools (4.6%) and private/independent schools (4.7%) had the highest percentage of exemptions.

View/Download the 2017-18 School Immunization Report here.

IAC releases updated “Vaccinating Adults: A Step-by-Step Guide” — available for purchase or free download

The Immunization Action Coalition (IAC) is delighted to announce the publication of its new book, Vaccinating Adults: A Step-by-Step Guide (Guide).

This completely updated guide on adult immunization (originally published in 2004) provides easy-to-use, practical information covering important “how-to” activities to help providers enhance their existing adult immunization services or introduce them into any clinical setting, including:

  • setting up for vaccination services,
  • storing and handling vaccines,
  • deciding which people should receive which vaccines,
  • administering vaccines,
  • documenting vaccinations (including legal issues), and
  • understanding financial considerations and billing information.

In addition, the Guide is filled with hundreds of web addresses and references to help providers stay up to date on the latest immunization information, both now and in the future.

Two options are available to obtain a copy of the updated Guide:

  • Purchase a copy
    A limited number of printed editions of this 142-page book are available for purchase at The Guide’s lie-flat binding and 10 tabbed sections make it easy to locate the information being sought. Purchased copies are delivered in a box that includes Immunization Techniques: Best Practices with Infants, Children, and Adults, a 25-minute training DVD developed by the California Department of Public Health. Also included are several selected IAC print materials, such as the “Skills Checklist for Vaccine Administration,” an assessment tool to assist in evaluating the skill level of staff who administer vaccines.
  • Download for free and print it yourself
    The entire Guide is available to download/print free of charge at The downloaded version is suitable for double-sided printing. Options are available online to download the entire book or selected chapters.

The development of the Guide was supported by the National Vaccine Program Office (NVPO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Expert staff from both agencies also provided early technical review of the content.

The Guide is a uniquely valuable resource to assist providers in increasing adult immunization rates. Be sure to get a copy today!

11th Annual Conference Crosses Borders, Boosts Vaccine Awareness

The 11th Annual ACIC Conference was jointly sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Center for Continuing Education in the Health Sciences, University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy Center for Continuing Education in Health Sciences, and the Allegheny County Immunization Coalition.

Dr. Andrew Kroger of the CDC
Andrew Kroger, MD, MPH, is a medical officer for the National Center ofr Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC.

This year’s conference featured welcoming remarks by Karen Hacker, MD, MPH, Director of the Allegheny County Health Department; and a keynote presentation entitled “Preventing the Spread of Diseases Across Borders” by Wilbert van Panhuis, MD, PhD, an Assistant Professor of Epidemiology and Biomedical Informatics at Pitt’s GSPH.

Also included was an Immunization Update and “Ask the Expert Q&A” with Andrew Kroger, MD, MPH, Medical Officer with the CDC; and an information-sharing session on “HPV! Why Should You Care” with Lyn Robertson, DrPH,

More than a dozen exhibitors and poster presentations shared information with conference attendees.

MSN, RN, Associate Professor of Medicine and Associate Director, Health Equity, Education and Advocacy with the University of Pittsburgh’s Cancer Institute and Winfred Frazier, MD, HRSA-T-32 Postdoctoral Scholar and Univ. of Pittsburgh Family Medicine Faculty Development Fellow at UPMC St. Margaret.