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Posts Tagged ‘childhood immunizations’

Five Things I’ve Learned About Vaccines Through 21 Years of Parenting

April 24, 2017 35 comments

niiw-blog-a-thon-badgeI gave birth to five children in the span of nine years. My oldest daughter will soon be 21.  My youngest, 12.  Over the years, I’ve learned a few things about childhood illnesses and infectious diseases.  Like most parents, I’ve received plenty of unsolicited advice about how to care for my children and how to keep them healthy.  However, when I make health decision for my children, I rely on evidence based research and credible information from reputable sources.

That is why I agreed to partner with Every Child By Two (ECBT) as the editor and primary contributor to this Shot of Prevention blog.  Seven years ago, when we started this blog, parents seeking vaccine information on the internet often encountered a web of lies, deception, misinformation and fear mongering. Today, Shot of Prevention is one of many blogs that provide parents with evidence based information to help them make informed immunization decisions for their families.

Today, in recognition of National Infant Immunization Week, I’m sharing five of the most important things I’ve learned about vaccines through my journey as a parent and immunization blogger and it begins with science and it ends with action.

1.) Don’t Let Your Emotions Cloud Your Scientific Judgment.

Visit any online parenting forum and there are fewer topics that can get as heated and emotional as vaccines.  The majority of these conversations illicit fear and sympathy, and you’ll often hear parents say that they had to trust their gut or rely on their parental instinct. While we can’t deny our emotions, when it comes to vaccines we must not let emotions cloud our scientific judgment. Instead, we must look to peer-reviewed research and sound science to make educated and informed immunization decisions for our children.

When we do that, we realize that vaccines are some of the most rigorously tested medical interventions available today. And they should be because they are administered to almost every healthy child born in the U.S.  The four different surveillance systems we have in the U.S. serve as back-up systems to ensure the ongoing safety of vaccines.

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While it’s true that no medical intervention comes without risk, the chances that your child will suffer a serious adverse reaction from a vaccine are documented to be less than one in a million.

When you compare that risk to the risk of injury or death from the diseases that we prevent, vaccines win the benefit/risk ratio hands down.  So, brush up on your science and take the time to understand how vaccines work.

Listen to immunization experts address some of the most frequently asked questions about vaccines in these Q&A videos available on our Vaccinate Your Family Facebook page here and our YouTube channel here.  You can also check out these other resources to learn more:
Immunity and Vaccines Explained; video from PBS, NOVA 
How Vaccines Work; video embedded on Immunize For Good website 
Vaccines: Calling the Shots; Aired on PBS, NOVA 
Ensuring the Safety of Vaccines in the U.S.; PDF document from the CDC 
The Journey of Your Child’s Vaccine; Infographic from the CDC 
Vaccine Ingredients Frequently Asked Questions; Healthy Children, AAP
Vaccine Education Center Website; Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia 

2.) Appreciate Vaccines For Their Life-Saving Quality.  

Thankfully, science is advancing and newer, safer vaccines are enabling us to prevent more needless suffering, hospitalizations & death. However, it’s not uncommon for parents to question why their child may need so many shots.

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Admittedly, the method of administering vaccines can be painful at times.  I’m beginning to think that the reason parents are concerned about the number of vaccines their children receive is because it’s even painful for parents to watch their child suffer from the discomfort of a needle. And worst yet, there are often multiple shots at each visit during those first two years of life.  If vaccines were administered orally, through an adhesive patch, or through a way that didn’t involve pain, I believe parents might not have nearly as much concern.

Unfortunately, one of the hardest things to accept as a parent is watching your child suffer from things you can’t prevent.  But the reality is that with vaccines, you are preventing something, even if you may never see that disease which you are preventing. The reality is that some brief discomfort, a few pricks of a needle and even a mild fever, swelling, rash or big crocodile tears are far better than suffering from any one of the 14 different diseases we can now safely prevent through childhood immunizations.

Since we are privileged to live in a country where we have such easy access to vaccines, parents don’t often see just how dangerous vaccine preventable diseases can be. And while we may not have ever seen polio in our lifetime, we must never forget the fear that parents experienced before a vaccine was available. Sadly, most parents in the U.S. probably don’t even realize that polio still exists in other countries and that globally, measles remains one of the top five killers of kids under the age of five.

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In fact, our country is currently battling yet another measles outbreak in Minnesota. This outbreak appears to be direct result of anti-vaccine advocates wrongfully convincing members of the Somali community not to vaccinate due to the dispelled myth that vaccines were linked to autism.  Now unvaccinated children are being hospitalized with measles and public health professionals are hard at work trying to contain the spread of this extremely infectious disease.

Perhaps if parents were to learn more about the dangers of the diseases that vaccines help to prevent, they may feel less anxious about the shots their child is recommended to receive.  Screen Shot 2017-04-24 at 9.16.16 AM.png

To learn about the 14 different diseases that we can prevent with today’s childhood immunization center, check out our Every Child By Two’s Childhood Vaccine Preventable Disease eBook.

Read more…

Triumph Over Smallpox Reminds Us That Vaccines Help Prevent Disease Every Day

Every Child By Two’s State of the ImmUnion campaign is honoring National Immunization Awareness Month (#NIAM16) with a Blog Relay highlighting the importance of vaccines across the lifespan and across the nation.

Parker.Heidi__vertical_0In this guest post, we hear from Heidi Parker, MA, Executive Director of Immunize Nevada.  She reminds us that promoting health and preventing disease is not just a cause to recognize during the month of August; instead, it is something we need to do each and every day.

By Heidi Parker, MA, Executive Director of Immunize Nevada

Dr. Donald A. Henderson passed away recently, with little media attention or fanfare. This is alarming, considering “saving millions of lives” was listed as one of his life accomplishments.

22Henderson1-obit-master768In case you’re wondering who he is, Dr. Henderson led the global effort to eradicate smallpox — a disease that, in the 20th century and before it was extinguished, was blamed for at least 300 million deaths. Clearly, his triumph over smallpox proved the power of vaccines.

During National Immunization Awareness Month, we are reminded that promoting health and preventing disease is not just a cause to recognize during the month of August; instead, it is something we need to do each and every day.

We must be relentless, much like Dr. Henderson was. Why? Because our news feeds continue to be filled with stories of vaccine-preventable diseases – a teen dies from meningococcal diseasea summer camp closes due to a whooping cough outbreakcollege campuses battle mumpsmeasles spreads at music festivalsan infant too young to be vaccinated dies from pertussis; the list goes on.

In the United States, vaccines have reduced — and in some cases, eliminated — many of the diseases that killed or severely disabled people just a few generations ago. My great-grandfather died during the 1918 Influenza Flu Pandemic, along with millions of others; but decades later, our family is protected from this deadly virus when we get our annual flu shot. By vaccinating children against rubella (German measles), the risk that pregnant women will pass this virus on to their fetus or newborn has been dramatically decreased, and birth defects associated with that virus are now rarely seen. Countless examples like these demonstrate, day after day, vaccines are one of public health’s greatest achievements.

Unfortunately, tens of thousands of Americans still suffer serious health problems, are hospitalized, and even die from vaccine-preventable diseases. Read more…

10 Things You Need to Know About Vaccines for Children

August 17, 2016 22 comments

 

instagram_childrenWe are honoring National Immunization Awareness Month by highlighting the importance of vaccines across the lifespan.  

In this guest post, we hear about the importance of protecting babies and young children from vaccine-preventable diseases from the perspective of a statewide non-profit.  The mission of the Colorado Children’s Immunization Coalition is to mobilize diverse partners and families in an effort to advance children’s health through immunizations.

By the Colorado Children’s Immunization Coalition

To celebrate the gift of vaccines and to remind parents, grandparents, caregivers, and others of the important role vaccines play in their little one’s early years, we’re highlighting the top 10 things parents should know about childhood immunizations.

1. Vaccines save lives.

COGuestBlogPost_20-year-infographicSimply put, vaccines work! The World Health Organization estimates that vaccines save 2.5 million children’s lives every year. In fact, immunization is considered one of the greatest public health achievements of the 20th century.

Vaccines have reduced and, in some cases, eliminated many diseases that killed or severely disabled people just a few generations ago. For example, smallpox vaccination eradicated that disease worldwide, and we’re getting closer than ever to a polio-free world.

Here in Colorado, vaccination prevented more than 8,600 child hospitalizations in just one year!

2. Vaccines are safe.

Vaccines are thoroughly tested before licensing and carefully monitored after they are licensed to ensure that they are safe. See The Journey of Your Child’s Vaccine infographic to learn more about the vaccine testing and approval process. 

Like any medication or medical intervention, vaccines can cause adverse reactions. The most common vaccine side effects are mild (e.g. a sore arm or mild fever). In many cases, the risk of a serious allergic reaction to a vaccine is 1 in one million. Vaccines will involve some discomfort and may cause pain, redness, or tenderness at the site of injection, but this is minimal compared to the pain, trauma, and possible long-term complications of the diseases these vaccines prevent. The disease-protection benefits of getting vaccines are much greater than the risk of possible side effects. Not vaccinating places children at risk for dangerous and potentially fatal vaccine-preventable illnesses.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended schedule is a safe and effective way to protect your child against 14 diseases by the age of two.

3. Young children are especially vulnerable to vaccine-preventable diseases and their complications.

Children under the age of five are most at risk for vaccine-preventable diseases and their complications. In 2014, 63.8 percent of children hospitalized with vaccine-preventable disease in Colorado were four years of age or younger. Unfortunately, in the same year over 25.7 percent of two-year-olds in Colorado had not received all recommended vaccines.

Child care facilities, preschool programs and schools are prone to outbreaks of infectious diseases. Children in these settings can easily spread illnesses to one another due to poor hand washing, not covering their coughs, and other factors such as interacting in crowded environments. Make sure you are sending your child to child care and school safe!

4. Vaccine-preventable diseases still exist.

Diseases like polio, measles, and mumps are not diseases of the past; vaccine-preventable diseases are still common in many parts of the world. However, most young parents in the U.S. have never seen the devastating effects that diseases like measles or rubella can have on a family or community, and the benefits of vaccination are often taken for granted. But the truth is they still exist.

For example, measles continues to be brought into the United States by unvaccinated travelers who are infected while in other countries. When measles gets into communities of unvaccinated people in the U.S. (such as people who refuse vaccines for religious, philosophical or personal reasons), outbreaks are more likely to occur. While we have the ability to prevent these diseases from harming our most vulnerable, such as babies, the elderly and the immunocompromised, gaps in immunization coverage have allowed these diseases to sneak back into our daily lives. Last year’s measles outbreak was a perfect example of how quickly infectious diseases can spread when they reach groups of people who aren’t vaccinated.

Diseases know no boarders, and with an increasingly transient global society it is more important than ever to ensure our little ones are protected.

5. Vaccines also save money.

Read more…

The 12 Best Pediatrician Tips to Help Kids Who Are Afraid of Shots

Dr. sophia mirvissBy Dr. Sophia N. Mirviss

For a parent whose child is afraid of going to the doctor and getting a shot, any opportunity to turn the occasion into less of an ordeal is well worth the effort.

Tears, screams and full-blown meltdowns are a part of parenthood, and gearing up for shots during each trip to the local pediatrician’s office with a frightened child can seem daunting and exhausting. However, it’s important to remember that vaccines can help protect your child from as many as fourteen serious, and potentially deadly, diseases. Shots may hurt a little, but disease can hurt a lot.

Fortunately, there are techniques parents can use to keep their child calm before, during and after a shot.

1. A calm attitude starts with the parent.

You may not realize it, but if you are tense or worried, your child can pick up on it and feel those emotions as well, even at a very young age. Additionally, telling your child that everything will be OK when you hope to calm them can actually have the adverse effect because it’s something they’d normally only hear if there was a problem. A trip to the doctor should feel the same as a trip to the grocery store or the post office.

2. Don’t pull a bait-and-switch. 

It’s tempting to use a fib in order to get your child off to the doctor’s office or to say that the shot won’t hurt. However, once a lie is used, it can build mistrust that makes future visits to the pediatrician worse. It’s best to be honest about your trip to the doctor and emphasize that the visit is a normal part of growing up.

3. Explain why shots are important.

Sometimes, children are most upset because they do not understand why shots are necessary. Of course, parents will need to tailor this explanation to their child’s age, but explaining that shots keep your child healthy and strong — like eating vegetables or brushing their teeth — can help normalize a doctor’s visit.

4. Practice before the appointment. 

Role-playing the experience of getting a shot is an excellent way to demonstrate what will happen at the doctor’s office. Parents often find that using their child’s favorite teddy bear or other stuffed animal to show where the shot will be administered helps introduce how shots work and why a doctor needs to give them. It’s also nice to bring the same stuffed animal with your child to the appointment so they can hold it or the doctor can demonstrate on the toy first.

5. Be honest about what will happen.

Yes, the shot or shots may hurt your child, but you know that the pain will only last for a short second before things are back to normal. It’s perfectly OK to admit to your child that there may be some pain, but reassure them it won’t last long and you can hold your child on your lap or by the hand the entire time. Read more…

Preventing Childhood Diseases Requires a Community Commitment

April 20, 2016 52 comments
This post is part of a blog relay sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in recognition of National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW).  You can follow the conversation on social media using hashtag #NIIW and join the #VaxQA Twitter Chat Wednesday, April 20th at 4 p.m. ET

 

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Protecting kids from disease requires more than just getting them their recommended childhood vaccinations.  It requires the commitment of an entire community.  

Thanks to an abundance of evidence based research, we’re constantly learning new and improved ways to protect our children; from safer rear-facing car seats with five-point harnesses, to wearing bike helmets and recommending that babies sleep on their backs.  Thankfully, advancements in medical science have also led to safe and effective vaccines that can protect today’s children from as many as 14 potentially deadly diseases.

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This commitment to scientific research has provided us with the safest, most effective vaccine supply in history.   Today’s vaccines not only contain less antigens than they did years ago, but they have fewer side effects. There is even a system in place to continually evaluate vaccine safety and a process to update and improve vaccine recommendations as new information and science becomes available.

The impact of infant immunizations is monumental.  

20-year-infographicIt is estimated that vaccines administered to American children born between 1994-2013 will prevent an estimated 322 million illnesses, 21 million hospitalizations, and 732,000 deaths.  In looking at the incidence of specific diseases like measles, we can see how beneficial childhood vaccines have been.  For instance, before the U.S. measles vaccination program started in 1963, about 3–4 million people in the U.S. got measles each year.  In comparison, last year we had 189 cases and even that seemed like a lot.

While these successes are to be applauded, there’s still more that can be done to protect today’s children and future generations from dangerous diseases.

Timely childhood vaccinations are critical.

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The recommended childhood vaccination schedule is specifically designed to provide immunity at a time when infants and young children are at the greatest risk of contracting potentially life-threatening diseases.

Take Hepatitis B for example.  If a child contracts this disease before the age of one, there is a 90% probability that they will develop chronic symptoms later in life.  However, only 30% of children who contract hepatitis B between the ages of one and five will go on to develop these chronic issues.

This is one reason why the birth dose of the HepB vaccine is so important. Since the U.S. started routine HepB vaccination, new cases have declined by more than 80%, and mostly among children.

 

 

But vaccinating babies isn’t enough to ensure children will grow to be healthy adults.

Keeping children safe from preventable disease requires community immunity.

Because widespread vaccination programs have been so effective in preventing diseases in the U.S., many parents don’t realize that diseases like polio and diphtheria still exist.  Some don’t consider diseases like whooping cough, varicella or measles to be a serious threat to their children.  This miscalculation of risk can lead to vaccine complacency or refusal.

But the fact is that vaccine-preventable diseases are still circulating in the U.S. and around the world.  Even when diseases are rare in the U.S., they can still be commonly transmitted in many parts of the world and brought into the country by unvaccinated individuals, putting entire communities at risk.

This explains the recent resurgence of measles cases in the U.S. , despite measles having been declared eliminated from the U.S. in 2000.  Today’s outbreaks are often the result of unvaccinated individuals who contract the disease oversees and then return to the states where they spread it to others.  But unvaccinated individuals don’t just put themselves at risk; their choices impact the health of our communities as a whole. Read more…

Should I Take My Three-Week Old to the Family Reunion?

August 8, 2014 292 comments

DrZibnersToday Dr. Lara Zibners addresses a concern that was raised on our Vaccinate Your Baby Facebook page which addresses the difficult task parents face in protecting their newborn babies from vaccine preventable diseases before they are old enough to be vaccinated themselves.  If you have a vaccine related concern that you would like to provide for discussion, please email shotofprevention@gmail.com or send us a message on our Facebook page.

I have a 3 week old son and I plan on vaccinating him appropriately. However my family is having a reunion next week and I want to go. I have been very strict about only having vaccinated visitors. Is it ok to go to this reunion when I can’t check to see if every person is vaccinated? There will be 20-40 people there. Also, my brother-in-law doesn’t vaccinate his kids and I haven’t let them or their kids meet my baby yet. Am I being crazy or should I stick to this? I just want to do what’s best for my baby.

 

Wow! You plan on getting out of the house with a 3-week old? That’s ambitious. I’m impressed. I’m also incredibly impressed with your concern about exposing your new little one to vaccine preventable illnesses. Not to mention how delicate and difficult the topic is when friends and family willingly don’t vaccinate and risk the health of their children and yours. It’s awkward, as I’ve already said.

But moving on from that, I think we need to have a real conversation about what vaccines can and can’t do. I am blatantly pro-immunization. I, along with the overwhelming majority of physicians and scientists, believe that vaccines truly are the greatest medical innovation of all time. They have saved more lives than any other medical advancement in history. Vaccines work, they are safe, and they save lives.

But let’s be honest. Vaccines don’t provide 100% immunity to every single individual vaccinated. That is why herd immunity is so very, very important.  Read more…