Last Friday was a beautiful sunny day for a field trip. As I rode in the van from Philadelphia to Marietta, Pennsylvania, I took some time to enjoy the bucolic scenery (Hello, cows!) and the fall foliage.
I was on my way to visit GSK's manufacturing facility, along with eight bloggers who were invited to tour the facility and learn about the role that vaccination plays in keeping adults and families healthy. The people I work with at GSK are very passionate about the importance of vaccinations. But would people who write blogs about a wide variety of subjects (including science, fitness, wellness, policy, and parenting) care enough to take time out of their busy schedules?
When I heard about some of the other sponsored trips a few of the bloggers had taken (tours of a candy plant and personal fittings for free clothes topping the lists), I was especially pleased that they had agreed to attend an arguably less glamorous trip. Lunch catered by the cafeteria. No free samples at the end. Not even a free pen (though the bloggers did take away two educational pieces created by GSK for the GiveYour Health a Shot campaign and the What to Expect Guide to Immunizations.
We had organized a similar trip last year for parenting bloggers focused on pediatric vaccination. Our attendees last year appreciated that we opened our doors. From the GSK perspective, we were proud to show off what we do. And so here we were again, with another very impressive group of bloggers.
During the trip, I was reminded of the complexity of vaccines, from the initial research and development to the manufacturing. On the packaging side alone there seem to be approximately a gazillion safety and quality checks. I was impressed by the highly automated, shiny, and super-fast machines. It was almost hypnotic watching those vials zoom down the conveyor belt.
I was also envious of the cleaning filters and procedures in place to ensure a sterile environment. A number of us on the trip were moms, and I am sure I was not alone in wondering how I could put the filters to work to clean my home. The technology is pretty amazing. And the protocols in place are stringent! We had to ask everyone to leave their jewelry in the conference room, and then we put on lab coats, hair nets, goggles, and booties once we got to the packaging area. Everyone was a really good sport, even though we couldn't keep the protective gear to wear for Halloween.
Like a lot of parents, I make sure I get my little girl vaccinated to help protect her from as many diseases as possible. My husband and I got the whooping cough vaccine to protect her, and we never miss our annual flu shots. It is just as important for the adults in my life to stay up to date on their recommended vaccines. I'm still working on my parents, who think they have a "lucky charm" to protect them against the flu.
I for one am happy that we have vaccinations.
But enough about what I think--click on the links below to hear what our guests had to say about the experience: