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Life is Like a Box of Chocolates…

February 16, 2012

“You never know what you’re going to get.”

I believe this famous statement from Forest Gump is so frequently recited because it speaks the truth.  We all have unknowns in our lives.  No matter how much we try to control them.

Today, as I sit at my computer, next to an enormous heart-shaped box of chocolates, I can’t help but think of this quote.  I have just discovered that my  cherished Valentine’s gift was recently ransacked by  – I suspect – my youngest daughter, (who I saw sneaking a piece of chocolate on her way to the bus stop this morning).  I notice the empty spaces where some of my favorite nut varieties would be.  And I discover a half eaten piece with mystery nougat pouring out – discards from my daughter when she realized the bitter taste of dark chocolate.

As I look upon my half eaten box, my surprise turns to gratitude.  Instead of being upset, I’m actually grateful that she has saved me from myself (the last thing I need right now is more chocolate, especially before breakfast!).  And I realize, once again, that all my children have managed to steal my heart – both literally and figuratively.  I simply could not imagine my life without them. And my biggest fear is that I may one day lose them from something I have no control over.

I guess this is why I find the vaccination conversation so intriguing.  We know that a small percentage of parents are so fearful about vaccines that they choose not to vaccinate, all while exposing their children to a greater risk of problems that can occur as a result of contracting a disease.  We also know that the overwhelming majority of parents realize that these dangerous diseases can be unpredictable and that it’s best to simply help prevent these diseases by getting them vaccinated.

But then there are those unfortunate parents whose children are too young to be vaccinated.  They intend to vaccinate, but before their child is old enough, they fall victim to vaccine preventable diseases.

Why?

Well, because when it comes to public health, we’re all like a big box of chocolates.  You never know what you’re going to get; when disease is going to spread and who it’s going to spread to.

Like it or not, one person’s decision can have a direct impact on the health of another.   Which is why vaccinating parents are concerned about the decisions of others not to vaccinate.

Emily discusses Everlee's battle with pertussis in detail on the Moms Who Vax blog.

Earlier this month, I read a touching story about a precious five-week old child named Everlee.  Her mother, Emily provided details of how Everlee contracted pertussis and suffered for weeks in the hospital.  Through an unfortunate series of events, Everlee’s nine-year old sister sat next to a child with pertussis in her school.  It’s suspected that the highly contagious bacteria likely traveled home on her clothes, where she unknowingly infected her too young to be vaccinated sister.

After Everlee’s near death experience, Emily is now desperately trying to warn other parents.  She wrote a blog post on Moms Who Vax where she details the horrible symptoms that Everlee had to endure.  She also appeared on the local evening news to express concern over the decisions of others not to vaccinate their children.  Like many moms whose children have fallen victim to vaccine preventable diseases, she has become a mom on a mission.

No, she is not paid by a pharmaceutical company.  No, she is not speaking out against personal liberties.  She is simply trying to prevent another child from suffering the way her Everlee did.

Despite the fear and uncertainty her family has endured through this ordeal, Emily is quick to admit that she is very fortunate.  Everlee’s story is a good one.  Everlee was lucky to recover.  But Emily knows that it could have ended up much worse.  Emily’s memories of Everlee could be bittersweet.

Which brings us back to that box of chocolates.  As parents, we never know what we’re going to get, so why not take every necessary precaution?

If I had put my box of chocolates out of my six-year old’s reach, I may still have more candy to treasure.

Parental vaccine decisions may be personal, but they impact entire communities.  Immunity protects everyone; including those who choose not to vaccinate, as well as those who can’t be vaccinated.  By vaccinating we can help reduce the spread of pertussis and various other diseases.  But those who refuse to vaccinate must acknowledge that they are contributing to the spread of these diseases to some of the most vulnerable members of our society….such as little newborn babies like Everlee.

Sadly, even this may not change their mind.  But perhaps they might stop to consider…that these diseases certainly do pose a serious threat… and you just never know what you’re going to get.

  1. cia parker
    February 17, 2012 at 10:51 am

    Pertussis is dangerous to infants in their first three or four months. About one in two hundred infants that age who contract pertussis die. The vast majority even in that age group survive without permanent injury. The pertussis vaccine is not very effective, only 30-70%, which means that about half of even recently vaccinated people can still catch and contract it. The vaccine produces no immunity in infants who get the pertussis vaccine (usually in the DTaP) when they are two months old, as per schedule (Walker 1994). When the series is started at six months, the children are only half as likely to get asthma from the vaccine (Manitoba study 1998). One in nine children now has asthma, only one in fifty who do not get the pertussis vaccine. The pertussis vaccine sometimes causes autism, SIDS, or seizure disorders as well. The disease was a big killer of children a hundred years ago, but has become much milder, and now is usually serious only in young infants. My baby got the DTaP at 2, 4, and 6 months, but still caught pertussis at a La Leche League meting when she was nine months old. For the worst week she was coughing maybe ten times a day, ten coughs on a breath,, coughing up sheets of slippery mucus at the end, and she coughed for over a month (not always that badly). It wasn’t dangerous, as it usually is not dangerous once the baby’s airways have developed enough to cough up the mucus.
    Since the vaccine is dangerous and not that effective, I think it is wiser to keep a newborn baby in quarantine to the greatest degree possible, especially if there’s pertussis in town during his first few months. If he catches it anyway, the parent should give him Pertudoron 1 and 2, and walk around with the infant up on his shoulder all night, to keep him warm and to help him cough up the mucus during his coughing fits in a vertical position.

  2. February 17, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    Cia, are you for real? Your own statistic “about one in two hundred infants that age who contract pertussis die” is an astoundingly high mortality rate for a disease like this. And it’s not dangerous? Good lord. I’d love for you to look Emily Stevenson, Everlee’s mother, in the face and tell her that pertussis is not dangerous. How about the other mothers who have actually lost their children to pertussis. It’s lack of vaccination that creates scenarios like this: http://blog.pkids.org/tag/infants-and-whooping-cough/.

    And the vaccine is not dangerous. In fact, it is one of the safest medicines regularly administered–in the world. I’d be interested in any science-based evidence you have that can support such a specious claim, Cia. And to Shot of Prevention, bless you for allowing comments on your blogs, because you allow people like me to rebut outrageous claims like Cia’s. But her comments, and those like them, literally sicken me. Hard to believe two parents can look at the same story–the same photo of an infant fighting for her life against pertussis–and not both feel moved to tears by the needless suffering. Sigh.

  3. Nathan
    February 17, 2012 at 11:41 pm

    Cia may be for real, but her assertions are for fantasy.

  4. Nathan
    February 21, 2012 at 12:22 am

    Hi, Cia.

    Pertussis is dangerous to infants in their first three or four months. About one in two hundred infants that age who contract pertussis die. The vast majority even in that age group survive without permanent injury.

    As Ashley pointed out, a one in two hundred chance of death is pretty bad. However, the actual mortality of pertussis in that age group appears to be worse.
    According to emedicine:

    http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/967268-followup#a2650

    “From 1990-1999, the case fatality rate was approximately 1% in infants younger than 2 months and less than 0.5% in infants aged 2-11 months.”
    Also interesting to note: “From 2001-2003, 69% of infants younger than 6 months with pertussis required hospitalization.[2] Pneumonia, either from Bordetella pertussis infection or from secondary infection with other pathogens, is a relatively common complication, occurring in approximately 13% of infants with pertussis.[5] CNS complications such as seizures and encephalopathy are less common and are thought to result from severe paroxysm-induced cerebral hypoxia and apnea, metabolic disturbances such as hypoglycemia, and small intracranial hemorrhages.”

    The pertussis vaccine is not very effective, only 30-70%, which means that about half of even recently vaccinated people can still catch and contract it.

    Hmmm. According to this report from the CDC, which evaluated seven studies on the topic, “The efficacy of three doses of acellular pertussis vaccines in preventing moderate to severe pertussis disease was within the range expected for most whole-cell DTP vaccines. Point estimates of efficacy ranged from 59% to 89%.”

    http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/PDF/rr/rr4607.PDF

    The vaccine produces no immunity in infants who get the pertussis vaccine (usually in the DTaP) when they are two months old, as per schedule (Walker 1994).

    I presume this is the study to which you are referring:

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0264410X94901120

    But I do not have the full text and the abstract does not support your statement. However, research I have seen says that even a single dose of pertussis vaccine in infants is somewhat protective. Here is an example looking at infant immunization:

    http://cid.oxfordjournals.org/content/35/2/162.full

    “After receipt of 1 dose of vaccine, vaccine effectiveness was as high as 68.0% (95% CI, 45.6–81.1), increasing to 91.8% (95% CI, 84.7–95.7) after receipt of the second dose. Vaccine effectiveness was even slightly higher for pertussis with complications. Thus, even after partial vaccination, acellular pertussis vaccine is highly effective in preventing hospitalizations for pertussis.”

    When the series is started at six months, the children are only half as likely to get asthma from the vaccine (Manitoba study 1998).

    Numerous studies have evaluated the relationship of DTaP and asthma and found no link. You found the only one I know of that that does, but only looked at timing and did not compare vaccinated/unvaccinated or number of vaccines. This meta-analysis looked at numerous studies looking at 186663 kids (almost twenty times more than your study) and found “Currently available data, based on observational studies, do not support an association, provocative or protective, between receipt of the BCG or whole-cell pertussis vaccine and risk of asthma in childhood and adolescence.”

    http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/120/5/e1269.full

    The pertussis vaccine sometimes causes autism, SIDS, or seizure disorders as well.

    Well, since you did not cite a source for these claims, I’m not going to cite sources when I tell you that they don’t. But studies show that they don’t.

    For the worst week she was coughing maybe ten times a day, ten coughs on a breath,, coughing up sheets of slippery mucus at the end, and she coughed for over a month (not always that badly). It wasn’t dangerous, as it usually is not dangerous once the baby’s airways have developed enough to cough up the mucus. Since the vaccine is dangerous and not that effective, I think it is wiser to keep a newborn baby in quarantine to the greatest degree possible, especially if there’s pertussis in town during his first few months. If he catches it anyway, the parent should give him Pertudoron 1 and 2, and walk around with the infant up on his shoulder all night, to keep him warm and to help him cough up the mucus during his coughing fits in a vertical position.

    This is frighteningly close to giving out medical advice that could kill a child. If anyone suspects their child has pertussis, they should talk to and take the advice of a qualified medical provider and NOT test their luck on home remedies by blog commenters.

  5. Tonya
    February 27, 2012 at 10:43 am

    I invite you to read another story about Pertussis. http://kennethaskorner.weebly.com/1/post/2012/02/kaliah-dailynn-holly-jeffery-by-chelsey-charles.html
    This story is about my niece whom we lost to Pertussis in August 2011. Washington state is currently in the beginning stages of what is now an epidemic. My family and I thank you so very much for sharing your story as awareness is the key piece for vaccination rates to increase.
    Educate and immunize always

  6. Partha Bommi
    February 29, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    This is a new cool free download App we developed to help Parents to keep track of their Baby’s Immunizations on iPad / iPhone. Please feel free to let your clients / users know about it.

    http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/baby-immune/id504579170?mt=8

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