Public Health Advocacy Outreach and Information Essay

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American Public Health Association

The “only organization that influences federal policy,” the American Public Health Association (APHA) addresses every aspect of public health, from violence to disease epidemics. Goals of the organization include raising awareness and changing public policy in ways that promote public health and safety. For example, the organization advocates for alterations in public infrastructure or practices that might promote the use of vaccinations. Specific topics and issues that the APHA focuses on include climate change, environmental health, gun violence, health equity, health reform, tobacco and other substance use issues, and more. One of the most important issues that the APHA addresses is the subject of vaccinations: a crucial component in promoting public health.


Since their early discovery, vaccinations have radically transformed public health, almost entirely eliminating some diseases in certain areas. Yet vaccinations are only as effective as they are used; to have a vaccination be available but have low compliance rates would not achieve the public health goals of disease eradication or control. A perfect example is measles and other infectious diseases for which vaccines exist but have become irregularly used due to pseudoscience scares. The anti-vaccination movement that led to several measles outbreaks in areas that had ready access to the vaccine started with blatant fraud and overt “misconduct,” being called “perhaps, the most damaging medical hoax of the last 100 years,” (Flaherty, 2011, p. 1302).

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The APHA fights to inform the public about this and similar hoaxes that adversely impact public health.

The APHA also makes direct recommendations to key national policy institutes like the National Institutes of Health (NIH). For example, NIH publications draw from systematic empirical evidence showing which vaccinations work, how to administer them effectively, and how to improve access to overcome socioeconomic and other political barriers (Weinbaum, Williams, Mast, et al., 2008). The APHA does focus on the United States, but its domestic work does have the potential to affect public health policies in other countries around the world. With increased accessibility and affordability of vaccinations, diseases like Hepatitis B can eventually be eradicated (Weinbaum, Williams, Mast, et al., 2008). The APHA is also instrumental in their work with science literacy and translating published research articles into plain language. For example, the APHA website includes a large set of fact sheets that address information about how vaccinations work and why they are especially important for….....

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American Public Health Association (2018).

Flaherty, D.K. (2011). The vaccine-autism connection. Annals of Pharmacotherapy 45(10): 1302-1304.

Villacorta, N & Shah, N. (2015). Vaccination foes on the defensive. Politico.

Weinbaum, C.M., Williams, I., Mast, E.E., et al. (2008). Recommendations for identification and public health management of persons with chronic Hepatitis B virus infection. National Institutes of Health.

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