Posts Tagged ‘ childhood leukemia ’

Should Schools Ban Unvaccinated Kids?

Friday, January 30th, 2015

forbid children signOne family’s story might give you a different and more personal perspective on a continually debated issue: vaccines.

For the past four and a half years, Carl Krawitt and his wife, Jodi, have had to do something that no parent ever wants to do—watch their 6-year-old son, Rhett, battle leukemia. And after finishing numerous rounds of chemotherapy treatment, doctors say Rhett is in remission.

But now another battle has begun— the battle to keep Rhett as healthy as possible, despite being unvaccinated. Rhett cannot be vaccinated until his immune system is strong enough, which could take months. And if Rhett contracts a disease, he is at a higher risk for complications and even death.

While Rhett can rely on the power of herd immunity, it’s not guaranteed when he lives in Marin County, California, which has the highest rate of children in the Bay Area who have been opted out of immunizations. In fact, Rhett’s elementary school has a 7 percent personal belief exemption rate, which is nearly three times more than the statewide average.

In light of the current measles’ outbreak on the west coast, Carl is speaking up for his son — by requesting that his elementary school bans all unvaccinated students, except for those who, like his son, cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons. “It’s very emotional for me,” he told NPR. “If you choose not to immunize your own child and your own child dies because they get measles, OK, that’s your responsibility, that’s your choice. But if your child gets sick and gets my child sick and my child dies, then…your action has harmed my child.”

And Rhett is not alone in having a weakened immune system. According to oncologist Dr. Robert Goldsby, “there are hundreds of other kids in the Bay Area who are going through cancer therapy, and it’s not fair to them.”

However, at this time, Marin County doesn’t have any confirmed or suspected cases of measles, so no immediate action can be made without approval from county health officers. However, “if the outbreak progresses and we start seeing more and more cases, then this is a step we might want to consider,” said Matt Willis, Marin County’s health officer.

We want to hear from you—let us know what you think! Is Carl Krawitt’s request to ban students fair? Or do you think it goes too far?

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She’s a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn

More About Measles

Vaccines for Babies and Older Kids
Vaccines for Babies and Older Kids
Vaccines for Babies and Older Kids

Image: Forbid children sign via Shutterstock

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FDA Attempts to Stop Children’s Cancer, Other Drug Shortages

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

Methotrexate, a drug used to treat children with leukemia, is among the drugs that are in short supply in America, prompting President Barack Obama to issue an executive order to prevent future shortages, and the FDA to announce a series of steps to increase the supply of methotrexate and other badly-needed drugs.  CNN.com reports:

“Through the collaborative work of FDA, industry, and other stakeholders, patients and families waiting for these products or anxious about their availability should now be able to get the medication they need,” said FDA Commissioner, Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg….

As for methotrexate, the FDA has approved a new manufacturer of a preservative-free form of methotrexate that is expected to boost the supply. The manufacturer, APP Pharmaceuticals, expects its methotrexate product to become available next month and continue indefinitely.

The New York Times reports that shipments from abroad will also arrive this week.  Some doctors, however, are worried that the current steps will not be a permanent solution to the very serious problem of drug shortages.  “Children are at such risk from drugs in short supply that it doesn’t give me a whole lot of comfort that we’ve moved past one or two of these shortages,” Dr. Peter C. Adamson, chairman of the Children’s Oncology Group, which is financed by the National Cancer Institute, told the Times. “What about the next one? And the one after that?”

Image: Empty prescription bottle, via Shutterstock.

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Hospitals Face Dire Shortage of Childhood Cancer Drug

Monday, February 13th, 2012

The Food and Drug Administration says supplies of a drug used to treat childhood leukemia are dwindling. Supplies of methotrexate, a chemotherapy drug given to children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (A.L.L.), are likely to run out in the next two weeks, the New York Times reports.

Without methotrexate, hundreds of children may die from a disease that is usually curable, officials say. A.L.L. is most common in children 2 to 5 years old.

One of the nation’s largest suppliers of methotrexate voluntarily stopped making it this fall because of what the company called “significant manufacturing and quality concerns,” the Times says. The four other American companies that make the drug are trying to increase production. The FDA is also looking for foreign suppliers.

The Times report included the story of Jackson Schwartz, 6, a Pennsylvania child with A.L.L. who needs treatment with methotrexate over the next two months. “It would be devastating if we can’t get this drug,” his father said.

Image: Cancer chemotherapy via Shutterstock.

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