Pertussis, Information, and Assumption in Seattle

The Medical Library Association Annual Meeting starts this weekend in Seattle, WA. This will be my eighth conference. It took me awhile to get the groove of learning how to get the most out of it. I think I’m there finally. The prep for going to a meeting like this is always significant. You have things like committee reports, presentation stuff, flight/hotel arrangements and information. There are also personal tasks. What to wear. How to pack. What bags to take. Errands to run. On top of that the regular work doesn’t stop.

But I’m starting to feel like I’ve got a handle on things…finally. I was on the phone with my co-presenter discussing our game plan for our paper and she mentions that there’s a pertussis (whooping cough) epidemic in Washington State. Have I had a vaccination?

Turns out, no, no I have not. I call my doctor’s office and am told, they don’t have the vaccine in and may not have it till next week. That does me no good. Well, I do some more reading on the subject and learn that it takes a few days to a week for the vaccine to start working. I actually read some posts on MEDLIB-L and calm down a bit. I’m not in a high risk group for complications. Also, there’s really nothing I can do at this point. My room, flight, and registration are non-refundable.

But here’s my problem. Apparently this has been a problem in Washington State for several weeks now. I read a post on MEDLIB suggesting that MLA or the NPC/LAC should have informed registrants. This does not seem unreasonable to me.

Someone responded that this discussion started happening on Twitter in the last week or so. Well, I’m sorry but I don’t live on Twitter. I have gone there occasionally in the past month, usually to ask a question. A librarian on Twitter suggested that we should have been reading the news. This story only went national in the last day. I’m trying to get all my ducks in a row for my papers, my committee work, along with doing my job.

If there’s a public health crisis, officials don’t make it incumbent on the public to come to them for news and direction. They send out the information through as many channels as possible because they know that not everyone uses the same media format. MLA should really have contacted registrants; they have our e-mail. They couldn’t send out a notice?

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