Archive | November, 2011

A Time for Thanks, A Time to Vaccinate

21 Nov

As the holidays approach, it is a very difficult time for parents who have lost children for any reason, but maybe even harder for parents who have lost children who didn’t need to die – those children who were lost to a vaccine-preventable disease.  I am one of those parents, and my heart is heavy that my beautiful son Evan is not with us again this year.  If only I had known that bacterial meningitis is potentially vaccine-preventable.

I urge all of you to give thanks for your children’s good health and to make sure that this holiday season, you give them the best gift of all, to make sure they are up to date on all of their vaccinations.

Adolescent Vaccination Rates Up, But We Still Need to Push

15 Nov

The good news is that adolescent vaccination rates are
increasing, based on 2006 – 2009 studies. These include rates for the meningococcal meningitis vaccine, the pertussis booster, and the HPV vaccine for girls.  However, we can’t get complacent, as there is still work to do.  Parents — make sure your children are prevented from all diseases for which there are vaccines, and for health care providers — take every opportunity to protect your patients.  We are on the right track!  Please see the link below for more information:

World Pneumonia Day – Let’s Vaccinate our Babies

9 Nov

I’m a pediatrician, an infectious disease pediatrician at that.  We’re supposed to know what to do when a baby has pneumonia—apparently that’s not always true.  I’ve treated hundreds of such cases but this time was different.   When it’s your own infant none of that experience matters.  Jack looked at me with what seemed like panic in his eyes.  Coughing, crying, breathing fast, sleeping in fits and spurts.  Babies aren’t supposed to breathe that fast.

He lay beside me in bed. It was the day before Christmas and I just kept telling myself that we’d be better soon—apparently that’s not true either.    We both had influenza, I’m sure of that.  If you’ve had it you’ll know what I mean— I felt like hell: exhausted, muscle aches, every time I coughed it felt like sandpaper scraping over my trachea.  But since I’m an infectious disease doc, of course we were vaccinated!  Well, apparently that wasn’t true this year.  I had every intention of getting that done weeks earlier, but life got in the way.

The middle of the night always makes things worse, or at least things seem worse.
So, we became ‘that family’, calling our neighbors in the middle of the night to care for our two year old while we drove to the hospital with Jack.  So many times I was that doctor we were about to meet in the emergency room, scratching my head wondering, “Why did they wait the whole day at home and decide to finally come in at 2 in the morning?”  Well, now I knew.  Sometimes it doesn’t get better.  He had pneumonia in the chest x-ray and needed antibiotics.

Every day, of every year, millions of children get pneumonia and struggle to breathe; more than a million of them don’t get the treatment they need and die.

Every day of every year something unimaginable to the mothers we are, happens to mothers we don’t know, over 90% of them living in poor countries in Africa and Asia —their child dies in front of their eyes from pneumonia.  It’s senseless.   It’s inhuman. Vaccines against the biggest pneumonia-causing bacteria, Hib and pneumococcus, along with other simple strategies, can prevent these deaths.  So, this year on World Pneumonia Day, look at your kids and remember to get them vaccinated, remember to get yourself vaccinated and remember that not every mother is so lucky….yet.  The GAVI Alliance is helping give those mothers the same opportunity for their kids, faster than ever before for any vaccine.  At a time when the world seems to be more
complicated than ever, this seems like a pretty sensible thing to do.

Dr. Kate O’Brien, pediatrician, epidemiologist, Deputy Director of the International Vaccine Access Center (IVAC), Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA,

Winner of the 2011 US Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers

Vaccine Exemptions — Let’s Get Real

8 Nov

I just attended a wonderful course on Vaccinology sponsored
by the National Foundation of Infectious Diseases.  I learned a lot about
raising awareness of vaccine-preventable diseases.  I also learned, that
in some states, just how easy it is for parents to “waiver” out of vaccinating
their children, for philosophical reasons, which many times, are for not valid
reasons.  I understand medical and religious reasons, but the parents who
exempt for philosophical reasons need to understand that it just takes one
unvaccinated person to spread a disease and cause outbreaks.  This has
happened in the last year with measles, pertussis, and HiB outbreaks.
Vaccines have saved millions of lives not only in the United States, but across
the world.  The safety procedures followed by the FDA give me complete
confidence in the vaccines that have been licensed, and the post-licensure
safety studies provide data to reinforce the safety.  I am scared for the
children who are unwittingly exposed to a child not vaccinated – whether it’s
in a doctor’s office, school, or other community setting.  Our children
are at risk for so many things outside of our control, so when we have an
opportunity to protect our children with vaccines, we need to do so.

Check out the links below.  Once you’ve lost a child to a vaccine-preventable disease, there is no going back.  Vaccinate and protect.,0,719323.story

Fall Back, Spring Ahead

2 Nov

It’s that time of year when we change the time on our clocks and get an extra hour of sleep!

It’s a time to remember to check the batteries in your smoke alarms.  Maybe it should also be a time to check your children’s immunization records and make sure they are up-to-date on their vaccinations.  New vaccines and booster doses may have been added to the schedule since you last checked.  Check with your family health care provider to make sure you are in the know.  So, as we “fall back” an hour in time, let us all “spring ahead” and make sure our children are as protected as can be!