Posts Tagged ‘ flu shot ’

Vaccine Safety Concerns: Will This Story Ever End?

Friday, January 18th, 2013

This guest post comes from our advisor Ari Brown, M.D., a pediatrician in Austin, Texas, the co-author of several books including Baby 411, and a spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics.

This week, the respected Institute of Medicine (IOM) issued a report addressing the current childhood immunization schedule. After a thorough review of the scientific literature, the IOM found no major safety concerns with the recommended schedule. Specifically, they cited no relationship of vaccines to autism, attention deficit disorder, or learning disabilities.

Regardless of the landmark report, social media is busy chattering that the U.S. Vaccine Injury Compensation Program recently gave two children with autism monetary awards for their health conditions. As a pediatrician, does it change my opinion about vaccine safety? No. Let me explain why. (Warning: It’s kind of boring, but worth reading about!)

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) closely monitor vaccines through the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). Anyone (doctors, patients’ families, lawyers) may submit a VAERS form if a health issue arises at anytime after vaccination. Obviously, these reports do not prove that a vaccine causes a particular illness. The CDC and FDA review each report to see if there is a pattern of illness after vaccination. VAERS data is available to the public here. Independent of the federal government, six U.S. academic medical centers also evaluate for vaccine side effects. Additionally, the Vaccine Safety Datalink, a database maintained by several managed care groups across the country, monitors potential vaccine safety issues. Bottom line: There are several mechanisms in place to ensure that immunizations are safe.

However, like any medication, no vaccine is 100 percent effective or 100 percent risk-free. Rare, serious reactions can occur with vaccination. And if it happens, it’s devastating. But we take this small risk for the tremendous benefit of protection to ourselves and to others. As such, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services created the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) in 1988 to compensate those who potentially suffered a vaccine reaction. Those specific disorders are here.

At VICP, lawyers reviews patients’ records and determine whether to award monetary compensation. Yes, you read that correctly—attorneys are making the call here—not doctors, scientists, or vaccinologists. While the decisions from the “vaccine court” do not prove anything scientifically, VICP acts compassionately and does a reasonable job.

Since 1988, 100 million American babies have been born (99 percent of whom have received vaccines) and millions of older children and adults have also been vaccinated. With this huge number of vaccinated Americans, there have been less than 15,000 VICP claims filed. VICP has awarded compensation to 20 percent of those claimants. About one-third of all claims sought compensation for autism, and most claims occurred during the height of vaccine safety concerns in 2002-2004. VICP reviewed these claims collectively and found no substantial evidence linking vaccines and autism to provide compensation.

So then: What’s the story with the kids with autism who received financial compensation? Well, the children’s medical records are not publicly available so it is impossible to know, but they did not receive the awards for autism.

With a severe flu season and twenty children who have died, it’s important to look at the big picture. Most people get shots and endure nothing more than a sore arm.

With the scrutiny given to vaccines, we would know if there was a significant problem. As a pediatrician and a mom, I vaccinated my own kids to protect them. I wouldn’t do anything differently for yours.

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What Pregnant Women Need to Know About Flu

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

Pregnant woman with tissueYesterday we brought you flu advice for kids, courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Today, we’re focusing on what pregnant women need to know, thanks to the March of Dimes. This post was written by Siobhan Dolan, M.D., M.P.H. Dr. Dolan is the author of the upcoming Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby: The Ultimate Pregnancy Guide, to be published on January 29 by HarperOne.

Flu is back in the headlines again. Epidemics, Emergencies, Shortages ……… the publicity can scare folks, especially pregnant women. Flu is taking its toll in 2013 and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting widespread illness reported in 47 states and 20 pediatric deaths.

The concerns for pregnant women are real: Flu increases their risk for respiratory complications, preterm labor and delivery, and ICU admission. Newborns are also at an increased risk of severe illness and even death from the flu.

But the message for pregnant women is really clear: Prevention with a flu shot and early treatment of women with influenza-like illness is the best course of action. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), March of Dimes, and CDC all endorse this message, so women should not feel uncertain.

The March of Dimes web site has practical information for women here.

The Immunization for Women website from ACOG reinforces the message:
“All women who will be pregnant during influenza (flu) season (October through May) should receive the inactivated influenza vaccine. The live attenuated influenza vaccine is contraindicated for pregnant women. The influenza vaccine is safe for pregnant women and their unborn children as well as postpartum and breast feeding women and can be given during any trimester. Immunizing pregnant and postpartum women against seasonal influenza can protect the mother and may help her baby by preventing the spread of the flu from mother to child following delivery. The seasonal flu vaccine has been given safely to millions of pregnant women over the past 45 years.”

Women are listening, with 47 percent of pregnant women surveyed by CDC in early 2012 reporting getting their flu shot, up from less than 30 percent four years ago.

So go get your flu shot. And tell your pregnant sister-in-law or co-worker to get hers, too. Let’s help keep pregnant women and newborns out of the headlines by spreading the word.

Photo: Pregnant with a cold via Shutterstock.

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Parents Daily News Roundup

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

Goody Blog Daily News Roundup

More Evidence Flu Shot is Safe for the Egg-Allergic
With flu season approaching, a new study offers more reassurance that kids with egg allergies can be safely vaccinated against the virus. (via Reuters)

Controversial Bone Product Often Used in Kids
Nearly one in ten U.S. children undergoing spine fusion surgery get injections with bioengineered bone-growth proteins that have not been green-lighted for that use by health regulators, researchers have found. (via Reuters)

Graco Recalling Classic Wood Highchairs Due To Fall Risk
After receiving 58 reports of the highchair seats loosening or detaching from the base, Graco is voluntarily recalling its Classic Wood Highchairs. (via NBC News)

Women Who Have Heart Attacks More Likely to Call 911
Women suffering symptoms of a heart attack are more likely than their male counterparts to dial 911 – but there’s a lot of room for improvement for men and women, alike, a new study finds. (via NBC News)

German Cabinet Approves Bill Allowing Circumcision of Boys
Germany’s cabinet approved a draft law on Wednesday protecting the right to circumcise infant boys, which it says will end months of legal uncertainty after a local court banned the practice, causing outrage among Muslims and Jews. (via Reuters)

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Parents Daily News Roundup

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

Goody Blog Daily News Roundup

Transgender at Five
She first insisted she was a boy at the age of 2. “I am a boy” became a constant theme in struggles over clothing, bathing, swimming, eating, playing. Eventually, a psychologist diagnosed gender identity disorder. Now Tyler ‘s parents allow him to live as a boy, and the 5-year-old is reveling in his new identity.

Parents Write Bucket List for 4-Year-Old
Cole Rapini, 4, giggles like every other young boy, but his medical condition has bewildered doctors.

School Kids Urge Crayola to Rethink Recycling
A group of California grade school students wants Crayola to start a recycling program for spent plastic markers, but the company doesn’t appear ready to make such a move.

Shot Protects Against More Than the Flu for Pregnant Women
Giving the flu vaccine to pregnant women may bring significant benefits to their babies even before birth, a new study has found.

Tennessee Man Dubbed ‘Octodad’
Desmond Hatchett of Knoxville, Tenn., has 30 children with 11 women, according to officials and media reports.

Rosie Pope: Why I Tweeted My Baby’s Birth
Rosie Pope gave birth to a daughter a week ago and the Twitter world followed every move as she tweeted the whole experience.

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Parents Daily News Roundup

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

Goody Blog Daily News Roundup

Another Batch of Birth Control Pills Recalled
Glenmark Generics is issuing a nationwide recall of seven lots of birth control pills. The pills are labeled “norgestimate and ethinyl estradiol tablets.”

2nd Victim Dead after Ohio School Shooting
A student wounded in a deadly school shooting has been declared brain dead, authorities said Tuesday, a day after one student was killed and three others injured when teenager opened fire in the cafeteria at a suburban Cleveland high school.

Flu Shots for Expectant Mothers Add to Babies’ Birth Weight
Flu shots for mothers appear to increase the birth weights of their babies, making it more likely they will survive, according to a new study done in Bangladesh.

Autism Not Diagnosed as Early in Minority Kids
Early diagnosis is considered key for autism, but minority children tend to be diagnosed later than white children.

Frozen Embryo ‘Open Adoption’ Raises Hopes, Questions
Meet the modern “open adoption” family — at least two hopeful humans and one embryo, brought together by science, trust, complicated legalities and a goodly bit of luck.

Yoga for Babies: Is It Safe?
They may not be able to walk or talk, but they have no problem arching their bodies into the downward dog pose. Yes, toddlers and babies are doing yoga — studios now offer classes for kids as young as 6 weeks old.

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Parents Daily News Roundup

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

Goody Blog Daily News Roundup

New York Mother Suspected of Abducting Her 8 Children in Visit
New York City police were searching on Wednesday for a mother suspected of abducting her eight children, all of whom had been placed in foster care, during a supervised visit.

Obama Prepares to Revamp ‘No Child Left Behind’
Obama is poised to broaden federal influence in local schools by scrapping key elements of No Child Left Behind and substituting his own brand of reform.

Giving Flu Shots to Tots Cuts ER Visits By a Third
Recommending that all U.S. preschoolers get a flu shot cut visits to the emergency department for flu-like illness by more than a third, U.S. and Canadian researchers said on Monday in a study that showed the direct impact of vaccination policy changes on flu transmission.

Playing in the Grass May Ease ADHD
Kids with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder who regularly play outside in settings with lots of green, such as grassy open fields and parks, have milder ADHD symptoms than children who play indoors or at playgrounds, a new study shows.

ADHD Meds May Delay Boys’ Puberty, Study Suggests
A medication taken by millions of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may delay puberty, at least temporarily, according to a new study in animals.

Vaccine for Childhood Diarrhea Helps Kids, Saves Dollars
Since the 2006 introduction of routine inoculation against rotavirus — a leading cause of diarrhea in infants and young children — almost 65,000 fewer American children have been hospitalized and about $278 million in healthcare costs have been saved, according to new research.

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Parents Daily News Roundup

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

Goody Blog Daily News Roundup

Some Young Children May Need Only One Flu Shot This Year
Usually, children between the ages of 6 months and 8 years need to get two vaccines given four weeks apart. But experts are saying that some children who would normally need two flu vaccines, only need one dose this year, IF they got vaccinated last year.

Video Games Improve Adult ‘Lazy Eye,’ Study Suggests
Although amblyopia can be successfully treated in children by putting a patch over the “good eye” to force the brain to use the weaker “lazy eye,” few options are available for adults with this condition. But a recent study shows a 30% increase in visual acuity for adults who play video games.

One Sperm Donor, 150 Offspring
There is growing concern among parents, donors and medical experts about potential negative consequences of having so many children fathered by the same donors, including the possibility that genes for rare diseases could be spread more widely through the population.

At Elite New York Schools, Admissions Policies Are Evolving
With an acceptance rate of 2.4% percent for incoming kindergarten students with no ties to the prestigious Trinity school, elite New York schools are beginning to change longstanding admissions practices as they try to balance institutional loyalty and a diverse student body.

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Are You Getting the Flu Shot?

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

If you’re pregnant, doctors say you should. Last year’s swine flu epidemic brought extra attention to the need for expecting women to get the shot, but even though the flu fuss has died down, don’t think you can get away without a jab this year; experts warn that any kind of flu is risky if you’re pregnant. Just keep in mind that while the influenza shot is safe during any trimester of pregnancy, the nasal spray version–FluMist, which is made from a live virus–should be avoided (but is okay if you’re breastfeeding). If vaccinated, you’ll not only protect yourself from getting sick, but you’ll also pass on your immunity to your baby to protect her until she’s old enough to get the shot.

Have you made an appointment for your flu shot yet?

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