MICHIGAN — A Michigan woman is a member of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention committee tasked with setting best practice guidelines for vaccinations.
“Right now, we’ve been really busy,” said Veronica McNally, who live in Oakland County.
McNally serves as a consumer representative for the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. She is the only person from the state on the 15-member panel.
“I ask questions that I think consumers have and they hope to have answers too,” McNally said.
ACIP develops recommendations for vaccine use, like who should get it or when. States then use that guidance in their vaccine rollouts.
The group’s work most recently has been focused on the COVID-19 vaccines.
“The first vaccines that became available were new technology, this MRNA technology… I definitely wanted to make sure that the vaccines were safe and effective,” McNally said. “I also wanted to make sure that there were safety monitoring mechanisms in place to continue to monitor this.”
McNally voted to recommend the vaccines developed by Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson. She says all three demonstrated the ability to reduce the risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death.
Four programs that allow the CDC and U.S. Food and Drug Administration to continuously track vaccine safety also helped McNally approve the vaccines.
“I lived this with my daughter so this is really important for me,” McNally said. “For people to understand that a vaccine not only does it offer hope, but individually it offers protection to you and to the community.”
In 2012 McNally’s daughter, Francesca, died at three months old from whooping cough, a vaccine-preventable disease. She hopes her advocacy prevents other families from experiencing the grief hers did.
In honor of her daughter’s death, McNally started the Franny Strong Foundation and partnered with the state for its iVaccinate campaign.
“When you’re making a decision about whether or not to get vaccinated, you need to get answers to your questions if you have them,” McNally said. “You shouldn’t just assume things. You should get credible information and you should get information to every question that you have so you can make an informed decision. That informed decision has the potential to be life changing for you.”