Vaccines Don’t Cause Autism

8 02 2017

Vaccines don’t cause autism.

I’ve been saying this for 20+ years. I’m not a scientist, and I don’t think any parent should embrace my statement based solely on my opinion.

My statement is based on the work of scientists who’ve studied vaccinated and non-vaccinated children in multiple countries, and they say: vaccines don’t cause autism.

It would be easier for researchers of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) if vaccines caused autism, but they don’t. After all, if vaccines did cause ASD, then researchers and research funding could all focus on vaccines.

But, vaccines don’t cause autism. In a way, it’s good to know that, because funders can save their money by not investing in yet more studies that will conclude that vaccines don’t cause autism.

And researchers can spend their time zeroing in on the (probably) many causes of ASD without spending a moment more on vaccines as a research subject.

If you are a parent of a baby or child about to be immunized, be prepared for the young one to have a sore arm, fever, swelling at the site of injection, or many other minor and short-term side effects of vaccination.

These are not fun for the child, and are worrisome for mom and dad, but you don’t have to worry about ASD as a side effect of vaccination because—

Vaccines don’t cause autism.

Please make an appointment with your child’s healthcare provider to discuss any questions you have about vaccines. You are the parent, and you should never feel that you can’t ask questions.

As you browse the Internet for information, I encourage you to follow the science, not the personal stories that sound scary. There are so many websites, blogs, bulletin boards, listservs, Facebook pages, tweets, and so on that say this and that, it’s hard not to be swayed by a good tale.

But this is your child, and you don’t want to guess. You want to know. Peer-reviewed studies help us determine what’s safe and what’s not safe for our child.

After 20+ years, this I know: vaccines don’t cause autism.

 

by Trish Parnell





Clean Those Hands!

11 08 2016

My older daughter started preschool when she was three.

That autumn, our lives changed — our healthy little family became a sick, exhausted mess.

Every three to four weeks for the next several years, at least one of us would be felled by some illness.

I remember commenting on it to the preschool director. She laughed and explained that it happened to every teacher and family new to preschool or daycare.

A perfectly healthy family or individual would, soon after their first exposure to school, dissolve into a puddle of sickly goo and stay that way for years.

It was due to the teeming mass of sneezing, coughing, nose-picking, walking petri dishes we called children, who cheerfully plastered germs on each other and on every surface in the building.

preschool

We were all immunized against the diseases for which there were vaccines. But, that didn’t account for those germs running free with nothing to stop them but a pair of clean hands.

We had to up our hand cleaning game, big time.

And here’s the thing about clean hands — one could almost say the conundrum of public health — when we use soap and water on our hands, we wash off most of the germs, but as soon as our clean hands touch an unsterilized surface (a.k.a. pretty much anything or anyone in the world outside of instruments in an operating room), germs hop right back on our hands.

The same is true with hand sanitizer. As soon as it’s dry and our hands touch a germy surface, we’re loaded for bear, as my grandma used to say.

One could ask, why bother to clean our hands?

It’s a fair question. The answer is simple — by cleaning our hands numerous times a day, we continually get rid of the hitchhiker germs.

If we add cleanliness to the habit of keeping our hands away from our eyes, nose, and mouth, then we have a good shot at avoiding lots and lots of infections.

Cleaning our hands frequently throughout the day is not a guarantee of good health, but not cleaning them is a sure way to spend a lot of time feeling lousy.

 

 

by Trish Parnell

Image courtesy Pixabay





New Year, New Immunization Schedule

18 02 2016

Immunizations are good for grams and gramps, moms and pops, and little ‘uns of all ages. But, wow it’s hard to keep up with who’s supposed to get what, and when they’re supposed to get it.

Every year about this time, the CDC puts out a revised immunization schedule. I’m not sure how many people wait on the edge of their seats for the schedule to come out. I think it’s one of those things that we should care about, that some of us actually do care about, but that’s not as exciting as waiting for the next Star Wars movie to come out.

Exciting or not, immunizations do help keep us healthy. They’re important! So, let’s briefly go over the changes for this year.

For all of us, the usual vaccines are on the schedule, plus there are a few vaccines that need particular attention.

In addition to the existing meningitis vaccines, there are currently two vaccines that protect against meningitis B. The ACIP (Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices) approved the recommendation that kids 10 years of age and older who are at higher risk for infection should get vaccinated against this strain of meningitis.

Young people ages 16-23 years who are not at higher risk for infection may get vaccinated, and should check with their providers to see about doing so.

We strongly encourage young people to protect themselves against meningitis B through immunization, unless their providers determine there are medical reasons not to do so.

There is a vaccine that protects against nine strains of the human papillomavirus. There are also vaccines available that protect against fewer strains of HPV, but we believe it’s important to protect kids as thoroughly as possible. We suggest you talk to your provider to see which HPV vaccine you or those you love should get. This vaccine is typically given between ages 11 and 12, but as with all vaccines, you can usually follow a catch-up schedule if you miss some immunizations.

There are more vaccines on the schedule. What you should get depends on many factors—check with your healthcare provider about what you need to stay up-to-date on your immunizations.

For a complete list of current recommendations, click here.

 

 

by Trish Parnell





Oh Yeah?!

4 05 2015

What has happened to civilized discourse?

Back in the day, most humans were capable of having a disagreement without it devolving into verbal fisticuffs.

Nowadays, if you’ve spent even a bit of time online, you’ve noticed that there are no more disagreements. There’s cutthroat carnage, violent eviscerations, and thoughtless thuggery, but no polite attempts to agree to disagree.

That’s right. Alliterations aside, it’s kinda wild out here.Disagreements

When I listen to people on opposing sides of an issue, like, oh, I don’t know, maybe vaccines, I usually hear the adult equivalent of, “Oh yeah? Well, your mama wears Army boots!” And I’m talking the truly nasty adult equivalent.

No one is persuaded to another’s point of view by inflammatory speech and vaguely (or specifically) threatening non sequiturs.

We have to listen to each other. And while we’re listening, we can’t be thinking of what we’re going to say when it’s our chance to speak. We simply need to listen. Then think. Then speak the way we prefer to be spoken to by others.

This is not Pollyannaish, this is practical.

Life is busy. If I’m going to spend time attempting to have a conversation with someone whose views on vaccination differ from mine, then I want to spend that time trying to convince them, not alienate them.

I am far from perfect and in no way an example of civilized discourse on a day-to-day basis. But, I’m trying. Maybe we can all try. See what happens.

 

 

By Trish Parnell

Image courtesy of Elton Harding





What Is Meningitis, Anyway?

27 01 2015

At PKIDs, we help families affected by infectious diseases, and we work to educate ourselves and others about these diseases. Our goal is to prevent infections.

In 2015, we’re turning the spotlight on meningitis, or more accurately, meningococcal disease.

Meningitis is scary—and confusing. For instance, if I say that I have meningitis, it sounds like I’m saying I’m infected with a No More Meningitisgerm called meningitis. But, there is no germ called “meningitis.”

Adding to the confusion is the fact that we tend to use that term loosely for what should be called “meningococcal disease.”

Meningococcal disease causes meningitis, and it may also cause blood poisoning (septicemia).

WHAT IS MENINGITIS?

Our brains and spinal cords are protected by three layers of tissues, one on top of the other, along with a thin river of fluid that runs between the middle and bottom layers. That river, the cerebrospinal fluid, helps the tissues cushion the brain and spinal cord. It also brings in food and takes out trash from the brain.

These tissues that protect our brains and spinal cords are called membranes, or meninges. The whole setup reminds me of a hand in a baseball glove; the hand and wrist are the brain and spinal cord, and the layers of the glove are the meninges.

When I say that I have meningitis, I’m saying my meninges, those tissues layered over my brain and spinal cord, are swollen or inflamed.

This swelling usually causes symptoms that are typical and a tip-off that a person is suffering from meningitis. Those symptoms include fever, a stiff neck, and a severe headache.

There are other symptoms that may be happening, but those three are the most common.

Lots of things can cause meningitis, and they’re not all germs. But the cause of most concern is bacteria.

When certain bacteria, such as Neisseria meningitidis, cause meningitis, it’s called bacterial meningitis.

The bacteria can get into the bloodstream, cross the blood-brain barrier, and cause meningitis, as described above. They get into the river, the cerebrospinal fluid, and multiply like crazy, spitting out poison. The tissues react to the poison by becoming swollen and inflamed. If it gets bad enough, the swelling may cause seizures, or even brain damage.

WHAT IS BLOOD POISONING?

When bacteria such as Neisseria meningitidis get into the bloodstream, they can cause septicemia, or blood poisoning.

The poison released by the bacteria into the bloodstream makes the immune system wake up and start fighting. This war between the bacteria and the immune system can cause inflammation, or sepsis, which in turn can cause blood clots, and it may stop oxygen from getting to the organs. If this happens, the infected person may lose limbs, organs, and sometimes, his or her life. This can happen within hours of initial infection.

HOW TO PREVENT MENINGOCOCCAL DISEASE

The bacteria that cause meningitis, and possibly septicemia, can spread in many ways, including through a kiss or a cough, a sneeze or a sip on a shared straw.

To avoid infection, we do the same things we do when we’re trying to avoid influenza.

  • Wash our hands.
  • Keep our hands off of our nose, mouth, and eyes.
  • Don’t share items like food, forks, lipstick—anything that can transfer germs from another person’s mouth to our own.
  • Get immunized. There are several germs that cause meningococcal disease, and luckily, there are several vaccines to protect us. Ask your provider which vaccines are appropriate for your age and immunization history.
  • Keep our immune system strong by doing all those things we hear about: exercise, eat healthy, and get plenty of sleep.
  • Be responsible and cover our coughs and sneezes. We don’t want to spread infections that we may have.

There are certain groups that are at greater risk of becoming infected with meningococcal disease: those living in close quarters with large groups of people, such as youth campers, dorm residents, or military barrack inhabitants; individuals whose immune systems are compromised; travelers to regions where meningococcal disease is common; or people exposed to others who are currently infected and infectious.

The harm that can come from this infection is so great, it’s simply not worth the risk. We all need to get ourselves and our loved ones in to see our provider for vaccination against this truly horrible disease.

by Trish Parnell





Childhood Diseases Reaching Out to Adults

16 12 2014

Angelina Jolie has chickenpox, and a passel of NHL players suffers at home with mumps. What’s going on?

Adults are getting knocked sideways by childhood illnesses because (1) when they were children, they missed one or more recommended vaccines, (2) there were no vaccines for certain diseases when they were young, or (3) the protection they received as children from vaccines is waning.

It’s also possible that a vaccine simply didn’t work for this or that person. It happens.

I was already an adult when the chickenpox vaccine first became available. A couple of years prior to the release of that vaccine, my little nephew became infected. He was miserable, and as his parents were out of town, I was the go-to person.

I bathed him in cool water to help bring down his temperature (does that really work?). I cuddled with him, and generally took care of him until his parents came home.

A couple of weeks later, my face erupted in what I thought were spectacularly huge pimples. They flattered my shiny new adult braces and first-ever pair of glasses.

I could not understand why I was breaking out, and then I remembered. My nephew.

I called my mom to see if I’d had chickenpox as a kid, and you already know the answer.

Well, that was a long time ago, and I can happily report my nephew and I had complete recoveries.

All this is to say that diseases lurk. It doesn’t matter how old or young we are, if we’re not protected, we’re open to infection. And, diseases from our childhood pose just as much risk to us as adults.

It takes one phone call or email to the healthcare provider’s office. Ask about all vaccine-preventable diseases, and where you are in your level of protection.

 

 

by Trish Parnell





New Movement Spotlights The Value Of Vaccination

3 09 2014

Encouraging conversation through valueofvaccination.org

An ever-growing body of individuals and organizations has come together for the purpose of highlighting that which is well-known but seldom stated: vaccination adds value to our lives.

Building upon a groundswell of public support for vaccination, the Value of Vaccination movement is garnering attention to the benefits that vaccines bring to every community. The initiative features the sharing of personal stories, videos demonstrating the positive impacts of vaccination, and easy-to-understand guides to the science behind vaccines and the immune system.TVOV-1500

The movement is expanding beyond the website to include social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. The goal is to encourage conversation at home, at work, and at school about the value of vaccination.

“The importance of dialogue around vaccines has become recognized globally,” said Heidi Larson, who leads the Vaccine Confidence Project at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. “Conversations between health providers and the public, among individuals, families and communities, and between the public and policy-makers are key to building trust. This important value-centered movement appreciates the science, but puts people at the center. ”

A call has been put out to the public to provide ideas on how best to illustrate the value of vaccination to others. It’s hoped that through crowdsourcing, new and unexpected methods of communicating this critical dimension of public health will be discovered.

Value of Vaccination is a body of individuals and organizations working together to promote the fact that vaccines bring value to our lives, and the many ways in which that value is actualized. This program is supported by a host of volunteers, along with financial support from PKIDs, a nonprofit based in the US. For more information, visit www.valueofvaccination.org.