You’re An Adult, So Get Vaccinated!

29 01 2013

adults onlyOnce we leave our family home and go off to college or the military or the workforce, how healthy we are is up to us.

For our first couple of decades, mom and dad do all the work. They get us in for our immunizations, tell us to wash our hands, nag us to eat our greens—well, the nagging about our health never ends. But the point is, we don’t worry about that stuff because we know someone else is doing that for us.

Then, in our 20s, 30s, and 40s, we’re hauling our own kids to the clinic for shots and sniffles, or nagging them to eat their greens. We haven’t the time for a long shower; forget finding time to take care of our own health.

In our 50s, we’re working hard and at the peak of our careers, or getting laid off and stressing about that. Plus, we’re watching out for our parents’ health. We have no time for check-ups or even basic immunizations. Even if we have the time, we have no idea what we’re supposed to take care of and might not have a “medical home,” a physician we see when we need to see one.

Our 60s and 70s are when we wake up to the fact that we have to take care of our bodies. Most of the time, we do that by reacting to health issues that pop up rather than working to prevent problems.

After 80, we’re bossed around by our middle-aged children who can find us a specialist in 10 minutes, but have no idea that we need a Tdap vaccine.

Adults 19 and older in the US are not taking advantage of vaccines, and that’s an easy place to start taking care of ourselves. Each of us should check in with a healthcare provider and find out what vaccines we need. Nobody has time to do it, so just do it anyway.

Here’s a list from the CDC, although it’ll be much simpler to ask a physician. But, if you love the details (full recommendations for each vaccine can be found here):

  • Pneumococcal Vaccine Information
    • Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine is recommended for all adults aged 65 years and older.
    • In addition, certain adults younger than 65 years should be vaccinated if they have certain high-risk conditions such as cardiovascular disease, pulmonary disease, diabetes, alcoholism, cirrhosis, cerebrospinal fluid leak, or a cochlear implant, or if they have a suppressed immune system.
    • Adults aged 19 years and older should also get a pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine if they have asthma or smoke cigarettes.
    • Preliminary data report approximately 37,000 cases of invasive pneumococcal disease in 2011. Of those cases, there were about 4,000 deaths.
    • The majority of cases and deaths occur among adults 50 years or older, with the highest rates among those 65 years or older. Almost everyone who gets invasive pneumococcal disease needs treatment in the hospital.
    • Overall, pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23) is 30% to 70% effective in preventing invasive pneumococcal disease, such as meningitis and bloodstream infections.
      • Effectiveness is highest among otherwise healthy adults.
      • Effectiveness is lowest among adults with significant underlying illness.
    • There is not consensus regarding the effectiveness of PPSV23 against non-invasive pneumococcal pneumonia.
    • Certain adults with significant underlying illness should also get the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13), which has proven highly effective among children.
      • A large clinical trial is underway in the Netherlands that is studying the effectiveness of PCV13 against pneumococcal pneumonia among adults.
    • Adults at high risk for pneumococcal disease who haven’t gotten the vaccine yet should talk with their doctor about getting it now.
  • Tetanus and Tdap Vaccine Information
    • Tdap vaccine is recommended for adults aged 19 years and older to protect against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough).
    • Tdap vaccine is especially important for adults who will have close contact with infants less than 1 year old.
    • In addition, pregnant women are recommended Tdap vaccination during each pregnancy, preferably at 27 through 36 weeks’ gestation, to help protect their newborns from whooping cough.
      • Tdap vaccine can be safely given at any time during pregnancy, but is recommended during the third trimester to pass the most amount of protection to the baby.
    • Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis are all caused by bacteria.
      • Both diphtheria and pertussis are spread from person to person.
      • Tetanus enters the body through cuts, scratches, or wounds. • Provisional data report nearly 42,000 cases of pertussis during 2012, a nearly 60-year high.
    • Our current estimate is that Tdap vaccination protects 7 out of 10 people who receive it.
    • Since Tdap vaccines were only licensed in 2005, we don’t yet have results on long-term vaccine protection.  We’re still working to understand how that protection declines over time.
    • CDC is conducting an evaluation in collaboration with health departments in Washington and California to better understand how long Tdap vaccines protect from pertussis.  The data from these evaluations will help guide discussions on how best to use vaccines to control pertussis.
    • Adults who haven’t gotten a Tdap shot yet should talk to their doctor about getting it as soon as possible, no matter when they last got a tetanus (Td) booster.
    • After receiving the Tdap shot, adults should continue to get a Td booster every 10 years.
    • Adults need to get Tdap even if they were vaccinated as a child or have been sick with pertussis in the past; neither provides lifelong protection.
  • Hepatitis A Vaccine Information
    • Hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for adults who are working in or traveling to any area of the world outside of Canada, Western Europe and Scandinavia, Japan, New Zealand, and Australia.
    • Other adults that should get the vaccine include men who have sex with men, people who use illegal drugs, people who have clotting factor disorders, people with chronic liver disease, and people who might be exposed to hepatitis A on the job (such as those who work with hepatitis A virus in laboratory settings or with hepatitis A-infected primates).
    • Hepatitis A is caused by a virus and spreads primarily by oral contact with fecal matter, either through person-to-person or by contaminated food or water.
    • More than 95% of adults will develop immunity within one month of a single dose of hepatitis A vaccine, and nearly 100% will develop immunity after receiving two doses.
  • Hepatitis B Vaccine Information
    • Hepatitis B vaccination is recommended for adults at high risk of infection by sexual or blood exposure to hepatitis B virus.
    • People at high risk of sexual exposure include sex partners of people who are positive for Hepatitis B, people who’ve had more than one sex partner in the last six months, people seeking evaluation or treatment for a sexually transmitted disease, and men who have sex with men.
    • People at risk of blood exposure include current or recent injection-drug users, household contacts of people who are positive for Hepatitis B, residents and staff of facilities for the developmentally disabled, people with end stage renal disease, and some health-care and public safety workers.
    • Other groups at risk include international travelers to regions with high or intermediate levels of Hepatitis B infection and people with HIV infection.
    • Hepatitis B is caused by a virus and is spread from person to person primarily through blood or semen. • In healthy adults, the vaccine is 80% to 95% effective in preventing infection or clinical hepatitis in those who complete a hepatitis B vaccine series (usually 3 doses).
  • Herpes Zoster Vaccine Information
    • Herpes zoster (shingles) vaccine is recommended for adults aged 60 years and older.
    • Shingles occurs when latent varicella zoster (chickenpox) virus reactivates later in life.
    • Pain from shingles lesions, called post-herpetic neuralgia, can be very severe and last a year or more.
    • 50% of people who live until age 85 will develop shingles.
    • In people 60 years of age and older, the shingles vaccine:
      • Reduces the risk of shingles by about half (51%)
      • Reduces the risk of post-herpetic neuralgia (prolonged pain at the rash site) by 67%
    • The shingles vaccine is effective for at least six years but may last longer; research is being done in this area.
  • HPV Vaccine Information
    • HPV vaccine is recommended for routine vaccination of females and males at age 11 or 12 years.  Vaccination is also recommended for females 13-26 years of age and for males 13-21 years of age, if not previously vaccinated.  Males aged 22-26 years may be vaccinated.
    • HPV2 or HPV4 is recommended for females; HPV4 is recommended for males.
    • Men who have sex with men (MSM) may especially benefit from vaccination to prevent condyloma and anal cancer.  HPV4 is recommended for MSM through age 26 years who did not get any or all doses when they were younger.
    • HPV is a common virus that is primarily spread through sexual contact.
    • There are approximately 40 types of genital HPV.
      • Some types can cause cervical cancer and other kinds of cancer in both men and women.
      • Other types of HPV can cause genital warts in both males and females.
    • About 6 million people become infected with HPV each year.
    • Studies found vaccine efficacy of over 93% against disease due to HPV vaccine types if a female had not already been infected with that type.
    • HPV vaccine is not therapeutic and does not treat existing infection or disease.
    • Prior infection with one HPV type did not lessen the effectiveness of the vaccine against other vaccine HPV types.
    • There are 2 vaccines licensed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and recommended by CDC to protect against HPV-related illness; these vaccines are Cervarix (made by GlaxoSmithKline) and Gardasil (made by Merck).
      • Both vaccines are very effective against HPV types 16 and 18, which cause most cervical cancers, so both vaccines prevent cervical cancer in women.
      • Only Gardasil protects against HPV types 6 and 11 – the types that cause most genital warts in females and males.
      • Only Gardasil has been tested and shown to protect against cancers of the vulva, vagina, and anus.
      • Only Gardasil has been tested and licensed for use in males.
  • Vaccine Safety
    • All vaccines used in the United States are required to go through years of extensive safety testing before they are licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
    • FDA and CDC work with health-care providers throughout the United States to monitor the safety of vaccines, including for any adverse events, especially rare events not identified in pre-licensure study trials.
    • There are three systems used to monitor the safety of vaccines after they are licensed and being used in the U.S.
      • These systems can monitor side effects already known to be caused by vaccines as well as detect rare side effects that were not identified during a vaccine’s clinical trials.
      • One of the three systems used to monitor the safety of vaccines after they are licensed and used in the U.S. is called the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).
      • VAERS accepts reports from health professionals, vaccine manufacturers, and the general public and receives about 28,000 U.S. reports per year, compared with millions of vaccine doses given to adults.

By Trish Parnell





Reporters – Follow The Science (Please!)

12 12 2012

Immunizations are a perpetually hot topic. We’ve been getting questions from reporters for over a decade about the need for vaccines, the efficacy of vaccines, and invariably the safety of vaccines.

Reporters have been doing stories on vaccines for a lot longer than a decade, but I remember 1999 as the year that things kicked off on the national scene. The television program ‘20/20′ ran shows featuring parents who claimed that various vaccines caused SIDS, multiple sclerosis, autism, and a variety of other illnesses in themselves or their children.

All these years later, when study after study after hundreds of studies have proven the safety of vaccines, many reporters still insist on representing the “other” side of the story when the subject is vaccine safety.

When I get a call from a reporter asking to speak to a parent whose child has been affected by a vaccine-preventable disease, I ask if they are also speaking to parents who believe their child has been adversely affected by a vaccine.

The answer is always yes.

The reporter will say that he or she just wants to present a balanced story.

After all of these years, and after all of these studies, I can’t help but wonder what their definition of balanced may be.

When I read a story about the importance of wearing a helmet when riding a bicycle or a motorcycle, there is often included in the story an anecdote about someone not wearing a helmet while riding who was consequently harmed by the lack of said helmet.

Never, in the same story, do I read about riders who were saved from harm by not wearing helmets, although I’m sure there are people in this world who believe it is safer to ride without helmets. For some reason, reporters don’t feel the need to present the anti-helmet point of view in order to have a balanced story.

The use of seat belts in cars has been mandatory in all states since the 1980s. When writing about car accidents, reporters frequently include stories about the injuries sustained when so-and-so was not wearing a seat belt.

I don’t believe I’ve ever read such a story where the reporter also highlighted incidents of those saved from harm by not wearing seat belts. I know of at least one person who firmly believes that not wearing a seat belt is safer than wearing one, but I have not yet seen her anti-seat belt view used to provide balance in a car accident story.

Reporters who include opinions from parents who believe their children were adversely affected by vaccines, and who include junk science from those pretending to be scientists, all in the name of having a “balanced” piece on vaccines, simply haven’t done their homework.

They are behind on the science, and the stories they write end up creating fear and confusion on the part of parents.

If a reporter feels that it is important to present views not substantiated by science, they should do an opinion piece rather than a news story.

At PKIDs, we sincerely appreciate those writers who look for and use the facts. As parents of children affected by disease, it’s easy for us to have lab work done and determine by the results that our child is infected with a particular disease.

If there is a vaccine to prevent that particular disease, we can say that it’s probable that, had our child been vaccinated, he or she would not have become infected. But, since not all vaccines work for everyone, we cannot say for certain. We can only talk about what vaccine-preventable diseases have done to our families.

We’re not painting all reporters with the same brush. Many reporters follow the science and come back with a fact-based story.

For those who do not, we ask that you make clear in your next story which parts are unsubstantiated, and which are based on fact.

Let’s stop the unnecessary scaremongering of the public.

 
By Trish Parnell





Why Vaccinate? I Never Get Sick!

5 11 2012

No matter your age, if you’re sitting in a moving vehicle you’re required to wear a seatbelt or to be in a size-appropriate car seat.

Most states require that anyone riding a bicycle or a motorcycle wear a helmet. And again, it doesn’t matter what age you are.

Kids going to public schools are required to be immunized against several diseases for school entry. How many immunizations they’re required to get depends on the state they live in, and the school they attend.

I suppose I could think up a few public health scenarios that would require adults to be immunized against a particular disease. But as a rule, unless our jobs require it, we adults are exempt from this particular requirement.

There are lots of protections in place for kids, as there should be. For instance, if I don’t feed my daughters, or provide adequate shelter for them, they’ll be taken away from me and placed in a foster home, where they’ll get the care they need. We need that oversight in place, so that no kids fall through the cracks. The heartbreak is that there are still kids falling through the cracks, but we do know that the oversights in place keep that number from being astronomical.

Most adults don’t need that kind of micromanagement when it comes to their health. But, they do need information. Before I became involved with PKIDs, I wasn’t even aware that there were vaccines for adults, other than the flu vaccine.

Now I know.

I don’t have time to get sick. I get vaccinated for me. I also wash my hands, try to get enough sleep, make myself eat green vegetables, and generally do whatever I need to do to keep myself healthy. But because I’ve met and talked with so many families affected by preventable diseases and I know how awful those infections can be, one of my motivations for getting vaccinated is so that I don’t accidentally infect someone else.

For example, it’s the infected adults and teens around babies who infect them with whooping cough, and it’s the infected birth moms who infect their newborns with hepatitis B. Babies infected with whooping cough can end up hospitalized, or worse. And babies infected with hepatitis B usually stay infected for life. This can lead to liver cancer or transplantation—if they’re lucky.

If you’re one of those people who never gets sick and figures you don’t need to be vaccinated—well, who knows, you might be right. But not getting sick is not the same as not being infected. You can and do pass on those germs to little babies who haven’t gotten all of their vaccinations yet, and others whose immune systems are not robust, for one reason or another.

So, you know where I’m going with this. Take just a few minutes the next time you’re at the pharmacy or your doctor’s office and ask what vaccinations you need. Do it for you, but also do it for the vulnerable in your life.

By Trish Parnell





School’s Here!

13 09 2012

School is here. So, new clothes, cell phone, new haircut, make-up, sweet-smelling body spray . . . what else could you possibly need?

Sports physicals―Want to play a sport this year? Gotta get a physical. Check your school website for the forms. Lots of places offer free physicals. Check that out on the website or call the health department.

Shots―Nobody wants them, everybody gets them. And don’t forget your flu shot. Local health clinics or your doc’s office will know what shots you need for your grade/school.

More Must-Haves, Must-Dos

It’s all about the numbers―Write down phone numbers of people who can help you in an emergency. Stash the list in your backpack or locker. These numbers might be in your cell phone, but if you lose your phone or the battery dies, you’ll still have the list.

Meds and health stuff―If you take medicine regularly, or have any health problems like allergies or asthma, make a list of these things, including doses of the meds. Include your doc’s phone number so that if you lose your meds or are having health-related problems, you can give this info to the school nurse and not have to remember everything.

Lighten up―If the school gives you lots of books to take back and forth every day, carrying them can make you sore. See if you can get two of each book and keep one at home and one at school.

Eat breakfast―The commercials are right: it’s the most important meal of the day. And don’t load it up with sugar. Try eating healthy stuff like fruits, proteins (not too fatty though) and whole grains every morning for a week and see how you feel. If you like it, keep it up.

Eyes and ears―If you’re having trouble hearing or seeing, tell your parents. If that doesn’t help, tell the school nurse. There are things that can be done to help! After all, why make life any harder than it needs to be?

What else do you need to get the year going right?





Tell a Story, Change a Life

7 06 2012

When a healthcare professional explains the science behind the design and manufacture of vaccines in order to reassure moms and dads that vaccines are safe, many parents politely listen, nod, and go about their day with their thinking firmly unchanged. What they’ve just heard is abstract and they can’t relate to it. There’s no “ah-ha” moment.

When a mom whose child has died from a vaccine-preventable disease stands in front of other parents, either in person or on camera, and tells her family’s story, most parents, no matter what their beliefs are about the safety of vaccines, feel that pain, empathize with that mom, and bristle with protective feelings for their own children.

This mom that we’re listening to is just like us. She’s a normal person who’s had an exceptionally horrible experience. While watching and listening to her, we realize that the same event could happen to us. We have our “ah-ha” moment.

The evolving, or perhaps revolving, discussion around vaccine safety needs to marry the presentation of scientific fact with that of the human experience for a comprehensive picture of the need for vaccination and the results of not vaccinating.
 
Storytelling
 
Author Steve Denning in The Secret Language of Leadership discusses “narrative,” or storytelling:

“In making the case for narrative, I am in no way trying to undermine science or drag the world back to the dark ages of myth and superstition. On the contrary, I am committed to science and its self-correcting methodology. We need to apply double-blind controls in experiments, where neither the subjects nor the experimenters know the experiment’s objectives during data collection. We need to vet our results at professional conferences and in peer-reviewed journals. We should insist that research be replicated by others unaffiliated with the original researcher. In our reports, we need to include any evidence to the contrary, as well as alternative interpretations of the data. We need to encourage colleagues to be skeptical and to raise objections. If extraordinary claims are being made, we must put forward extraordinary evidence…

“…But when we’ve done all that, and it’s vital that we do it, how do we communicate the results of what we have discovered, particularly if our findings are highly disruptive to people’s lives? If we try to communicate those findings by the same methods through which the findings were derived, what usually happens? Pushback. Resistance. Cynicism. Hostility. If we use narrative intelligence…the results can be very different.

“It’s a matter of using science and analysis for what they are good at, and using the language of [narration] to communicate science’s findings and get them implemented. Just think for a moment. Would it be scientific to go on using the language of analysis for an activity for which it isn’t suited, while refusing to use a different language that does work? To adopt such an approach would be the height of unscientific behavior.”

Evan’s Story
 
Lynn Bozof, from the National Meningitis Association, shares her family’s story:

March 25, 1998, is a day that my husband and I will never forget.

It was a day marked by events that have left a permanent hole in our hearts. It was the day our son, Evan, called from college to tell us that he had a migraine headache.

Evan was 20 years old, a college junior and honor student, and a pitcher on his college baseball team at Georgia Southwestern University.

He complained of a horrible headache, the worst headache he’d ever had, and was nauseated. He said he couldn’t hold anything down. He said that the light in his dorm room hurt his eyes. Evan had never had a migraine before, but migraines do run in the family, so we weren’t overly alarmed.

By dinnertime, Evan was still feeling awful. We told him to get one of his friends to take him to the emergency room. We thought that at least he could get something for his nausea. During the next few hours, we talked to his baseball coach, who had gone to see Evan at the hospital, and the ER physician, who told us that Evan had a little virus.  The hospital had decided to keep Evan overnight so that he could have a quiet night to get more rest.

The next morning, I called Evan about 7 AM. The nurse answered, and said that Evan felt too sick to talk to me. I asked her to put the phone up to his ear. I asked him if he wanted us to pick him up and take him home for the weekend. He said he did.

Evan was on spring break, but really didn’t get much of a chance to have one because his baseball team had games scheduled during that time. We figured he must be tired, and a weekend home with us where he could rest and eat good food was what he needed. 

My husband and I were making arrangements to meet back at our house when I received a phone call just after arriving at work. I was told that Evan had meningococcal meningitis and was in critical condition.

When you get a phone call like this, your mind can’t even absorb what you’re being told. I knew so little about meningitis, that when the doctor said that it was bacterial, I thought that was the better type to have. I thought, well, at least there were antibiotics. I didn’t realize that bacterial meningitis, especially the meningococcal meningitis that Evan had, was much more deadly.

My husband and I drove the 3 hours to Evan, not knowing if he would be alive when we got there. We stopped mid way to call the hospital to check his condition. At that time, we didn’t have a cell phone to keep in constant contact with the hospital.

When we got to the hospital, administrators were waiting to talk to us. They wanted to prepare us for the way Evan looked and the criticality of his condition before we were allowed to see him. That frightened us even more.

Evan was in quarantine and was receiving oxygen with very labored breathing. He was covered with the telltale purple rash. He could barely speak; he was so tired. He told us that it took every ounce of energy he had just to roll over.

We were told that the next 24 hours were critical. My husband and I started the countdown. One hour down, 23 more to go. Calling our relatives to let them know what was going on. Trying to reach our younger son, Ryan, who was on spring break with friends in Panama City, Florida.

After a few hours, the doctors decided to transfer him to a larger hospital about 40 miles away, better equipped to handle bacterial meningitis. As he was taken to the ambulance, I said, “Love you, Evan.”  As weak and sick as he was, he said, “Love you, Mom.”  Those were the last words he said to us.

When Evan arrived at the hospital in Albany, Georgia, he was put on a ventilator and put into a drug-induced coma.  It wasn’t long before his kidneys shut down, then his liver and lungs, and eventually it was affecting all of his organs. His fingers, his toes, his ears, his nose, all turning black. Then his entire hands were black; then his entire feet; and the gangrene kept spreading up his limbs.

We watched our son fight to breathe, fight to live. After two more weeks, Evan was transferred to a third hospital, which had a burn unit. The damage to Evan’s organs from the meningococcemia was similar to the damage that burn victims suffer.

One day later, Evan’s arms were amputated above the elbows and his legs above the knees. We had to sign consent forms allowing the doctors to amputate as much as was necessary to save his life.

We had no choice; we would do anything to save Evan. Several days later, Evan suffered 10 hours of grand mal seizures. The seizures caused irreversible brain swelling. Evan was brain-dead.

This son of ours, loved more than we can put into words, had to be disconnected from the machines that were keeping him alive…had to be put into a body bag in front of our eyes.

After Evan died, we found out to our astonishment that a vaccine was available, a vaccine that would have saved Evan’s life. Not a new vaccine, but one used very successfully and safely by the military to control meningitis outbreaks for over 30 years.

The vaccine protected against four of the five strains of meningococcal meningitis. If we had known about this vaccine, Evan would have received it and Evan would be here today.

Please don’t let this happen to your child. Immunize and protect your loved ones. There is no getting over the loss of a child. It’s a wound with a scab that never completely heals.

Storytelling is human. It moves us to action as no other communication can, so please use it.

This article comes from PKIDs’ Communications Made Easy program.





Adults Young and Old Need Vaccines

21 05 2012

Adults know to wash hands and wear condoms to prevent infections. And we try to eat fruits and veggies to stay healthy. Some days, we even exercise.

One thing we don’t do enough of is get vaccinated.

Other than the flu vaccine in the autumn, I seldom think about vaccines for myself. I bet I’m not alone.

But, we should remember to vaccinate.

We make sure our kids wear seatbelts and helmets, cross the street at the light and keep a weather eye on the ocean for sneaker waves, and get all the vaccines they need.

For the most part, we follow the same safety rules, except for that one about vaccines.

I am determined to get myself fully vaccinated and to nag encourage friends to do the same. I don’t want to get sick and think “if only.”

If you’re like-minded, I’ve listed the diseases for which there are vaccines for adults 19 years of age and older. Not every adult will need every vaccine, so print out this post and take it to your provider, find out what vaccines you need, and realize that you may need more vaccines if you’re traveling outside the US:

  • Flu is a respiratory illness. It can cause fever, chills, sore throat, cough, muscle or body aches, headaches, tiredness, and a runny or stuffy nose. You get over it after several miserable days, unless you develop complications, some of which can be life-threatening.
  • Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis vaccines are combined for adults. Tetanus is caused by certain bacteria entering the body through a break in the skin. It’s the one that causes lockjaw, and can cause spasms and seizures. It has a surprisingly high death rate of 10 – 20% of cases. Diphtheria is caused by bacteria spread person-to-person and can damage the heart, kidneys and nerves. Pertussis, also called whooping cough, is a very contagious disease caused by bacteria. In some parts of the world, it’s called the 100-day cough. The “whoop” is most often heard from babies, for whom it can be a lethal infection.
  • Varicella, also called chickenpox, is a virus that spreads easily and causes a blistery rash, itching and fever. For some, it can cause severe complications including pneumonia or sepsis.
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted infection that is very common in the population. Most people get it and get over it, but some will develop genital warts or cervical or other types of cancers.
  • Zoster or shingles is caused by once having had chickenpox. The virus stays in the body after the chickenpox clears up and goes away, and years later can reactivate, causing pain and itching, followed by a rash.
  • Measles, mumps, rubella vaccines are also combined for adults. Measles is caused by a virus that makes you feel like you have a bad cold, along with a rash on the body and white spots in the mouth. It can develop into pneumonia or ear infections, sometimes requiring hospitalization. Rubella is also caused by a virus and brings with it a rash and fever. This infection can be devastating to the fetus if a woman is pregnant when infected. Mumps is caused by a virus with symptoms of fever, fatigue and muscle aches followed by the swelling of the salivary glands. Rarely it will cause fertility problems in men, meningitis or deafness.
  • Pneumococcal disease is caused by bacteria and can appear as pneumonia, meningitis, or a bloodstream infection, all of which can be dangerous.
  • Meningococcal disease is caused by various bacteria, and the available vaccines prevent many of these infections. The symptoms are varied and include nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and mental confusion. This disease can lead to brain damage, hearing loss, or learning disabilities.
  • Hepatitis A is caused by a virus. It’s generally a mild liver disease, but can rarely severely damage the liver.
  • Hepatitis B is also caused by a virus that damages the liver. Most adults are infected for a short time, but some become chronically infected. The infection can cause jaundice, cirrhosis or even liver cancer.

More information on these infections can be found on the CDC website.

Talk to your provider about these vaccines. Who can afford to get sick these days?

By Trish Parnell

Image courtesy of Lancaster Homes





Why You Have to Vaccinate

7 05 2012

In 2000, public health workers slapped high fives and declared measles eliminated in the U.S. This meant that the disease wasn’t being passed person-to-person in this country.

In 2011, we had 222 cases of measles in the U.S.—a 15-year high.

Most of the 222 infected individuals were either unvaccinated or their vaccination status was unknown.

How did this happen? The answer is, almost all of the infections were imported. They came from U.S. residents returning from trips outside the country, or from visitors from foreign lands. The travelers carried the germ and, in some cases, infected others once they arrived.

Almost half of these cases came from countries with easy access to vaccines; the WHO European Region. The rub is, there are some Europeans who choose not to vaccinate themselves or their children, and the same is true in this country.

When a disease is floating around a community, it finds those who are unprotected and boom, we have disease outbreaks.

Most of the time, most of the diseases that are vaccine-preventable are not going to kill a child. They might not hospitalize him, or even make him feel really bad.

But, no one can say which disease will harm which child, and how much harm it will cause.

Kids do die from measles and chickenpox and other vaccine-preventable diseases. Or they don’t die and they only lose a limb, or their hearing, or they just need a liver transplant. Or any number of other health problems may occur that are still better than dying.

But like I said, no one can say how one child will be affected by one disease. So when I answer the phone here at PKIDs, and a parent on the other end asks if they really need to vaccinate their child against XYZ disease, I don’t have a problem telling them: you really do.

By Trish Parnell

Image courtesy of Vox efx