Posts Tagged ‘ vaccine ’

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

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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Vaccinate Your Kids Against Measles NOW, Says the AAP

Friday, January 23rd, 2015

Vaccine

As a result of the recent measles outbreak at Disneyland in California, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has released a statement to urge parents to vaccinate their kids.

“Vaccines are one of the most important ways parents can protect their children from very real diseases that exist in our world,”  says Errol R. Alden, MD, AAP executive director/CEO. “The measles vaccine is safe and effective.” Just two doses of the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine (MMR) are more than 99 percent effective in preventing measles.

Getting the MMR vaccine sooner rather than later — even if you don’t live in California — is important. “The measles virus is one of the most contagious viruses in humans,” says Yvonne Maldonado, MD, vice chair of the AAP Committee on Infectious Diseases. Measles spread rapidly in communities that have not been vaccinated, and those who are infected can also spread the virus up to four days before symptoms appear. Symptoms include rash, high fever, cough, runny nose, and red watery eyes.

Fifteen years ago the United States declared that measles was officially eliminated from the country — meaning that quick detection and response to outbreaks, and an effective vaccination program eradicated the highly contagious disease from our country.

But now there are at least 70 confirmed cases of measles that have affected at least six states, including Utah, Oregon, Washington, and Colorado, according to USA Today. To put that in perspective—California itself typically sees between four and 60 measles cases in an entire year.

So why are all of these people becoming infected with a disease that is no longer native to the US?

Some experts believe one reason is that an increasing number of parents are choosing not to vaccinate their kids because they may still have mistaken fears about childhood vaccines, or they are not afraid of a diseases they have never encountered. Parents are even able to obtain exemption from school immunization requirements based on their personal or religious beliefs. According to the Los Angeles Times “vaccine refusals” have increased from 1.5 percent in 2007 to 3.1 percent in 2013 in California alone.

Because babies cannot receive the MMR vaccine before turning 12 months, they are the most vulnerable and at risk for illness and death. But the more vaccinated a community is, the more it can protect infants as well as those who have not been vaccinated.

Learn more about the MMR vaccine here. And make sure to download our free vaccine schedule for babies/toddlers and for preschoolers/big kids.

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

The Vaccine Schedule
The Vaccine Schedule
The Vaccine Schedule

Image: Child being vaccinated via Shutterstock

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Vaccinating Kids Against Rotavirus Reduces Infection

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015

baby getting rotavirus vaccine

Update (1/16/14): Our readers have pointed out that the original stock photo (which showed a needle vaccine) did not illustrate the rotavirus vaccine (which is taken orally) properly. We apologize for the error and confusion; the photo has been updated.

It’s no secret that vaccines are a hot-button topic for may parents, with many either for or against. But the latest research on vaccinations, specifically the rotavirus vaccine (which was only created in 2006), provides a good reason for parents to visit the pediatrician’s office.

Researchers at the Texas Children’s Hospital revealed in a new study that kids who did not receive the rotavirus vaccine were three times more likely to be infected by the virus. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the rotavirus is contagious and the leading cause of gastroenteritis (also know as the stomach flu) in babies and young children. The stomach and intestines become inflamed, which lead to symptoms of abdominal pain, diarrhea, and vomiting.

The study focused on young patients for over two years at the hospital and determined their rotavirus coverage, the highest being over 80 percent and the lowest being under 40 percent. Of those patients, only 10 percent in the high-coverage group contracted the rotavirus versus 31 percent in the low-coverage group. “This shows that there is an association between not being vaccinated and getting the disease,” said lead researcher Leila Sahni.

The rotavirus vaccine is only given orally, and babies must receive three doses in their first year. The study was funded by the CDC and published in Pediatrics, though this is not the first time the CDC has been involved in rotavirus research. Last year, the CDC also released a report that the rotavirus could cause “a small risk of a dangerous intestinal blockage,” but the benefits of the vaccine (including reduced children’s healthcare costs) outweighed the minimal issue.

Learn more about the rotavirus vaccine and the stomach flu. And make sure to print this free vaccine schedule for babies and toddlers and the one for preschoolers and older kids.

Sherry Huang is a Features Editor for Parents.com who covers baby-related content. She loves collecting children’s picture books and has an undeniable love for cookies of all kinds. Her spirit animal would be Beyoncé Pad Thai. Follow her on Twitter @sherendipitea

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

Image: Nurse giving baby Rotavirus vaccinevia Shutterstock

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Are You and Your Kids Getting Flu Shots This Year?

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

Flu VaccineWith flu season just around the corner, the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases held a press conference today urging everyone older than 6 months of age to get a vaccine this season.

While flu vaccination levels are up overall in the past few years, they’re not at the levels health officials want them to be, the NFID reports. But the good news is that 70 percent of kids under age 5 received a flu vaccine in the 2013-2014 season. (The flu can cause serious complications even in kids and adults who are considered otherwise “healthy,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)

“Influenza vaccines are safe, plentiful and we have more vaccine options than ever before,” Dr. William Schaffner, past-president of NFID, said in a statement. “At least one is right for everyone.”

This press conference comes after a CDC recommendation last month that healthy kids ages 2-8 receive the nasal spray vaccine (pictured above) if it’s immediately available and there are no precautions for the specific child. (If it’s not available, don’t shop around—officials stress that getting any form of the vaccination is better than nothing.) It’s also important for kids younger than 9 to get vaccinated because some might need a second dose four weeks later to have “optimal protection,” the CDC stated in a press release.

Pregnant women are especially encouraged to get a vaccine because catching the flu “doubles the risk of fetal death, increases the risk of premature labor and increases the mother’s risk of hospitalization,” according to the NFID. And, the vaccine offers protection against flu to babies who are too young to get vaccinated.

In addition to the vaccination, it is still important to maintain proper hygiene and prevention practices like frequent hand washing, avoiding those who are sick, and staying home when you’re sick.

Have you and your children gotten vaccinated yet? If you’re on the fence about it, check out the four biggest flu myths and, if you’re not sure what kind of vaccine is appropriate for you or your family, always remember to consult your healthcare provider with any questions.

What You Should Know About the Flu
What You Should Know About the Flu
What You Should Know About the Flu

Photo of child receiving flu vaccination courtesy of Shutterstock.

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Whooping Cough Epidemic Declared in California

Monday, June 16th, 2014

California’s public health officials have declared an epidemic of whooping cough, the bacterial respiratory infection also called pertussis, in light of a staggering 800 cases of the disease reported in the state over the past two weeks alone.  More from CNN:

The agency says that there were 3,458 whooping cough cases reported between January 1 and June 10, well ahead of the number of cases reported for all of 2013.

This is a problem of “epidemic proportions,” the department said. And the number of actual cases may be even higher, because past studies have shown that for every case of whooping cough that is reported, there are 10 more that are not officially counted.

Whooping cough, known to doctors as pertussis, is a highly contagious respiratory infection that is caused by a bacterium known as Bordetella pertussis.

The popular name for the disease comes from the whooping sound an infected person makes when gasping for breath after a coughing fit.

The bacteria spreads through coughing and sneezing. One person can infect up to 15 people nearby, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Typically symptoms appear an average of seven to 10 days after exposure.

Infants and young children are more vulnerable to the disease than other age groups. It can be particularly dangerous for babies. About half of the infants who get whooping cough end up in a hospital. Some cases are fatal.

That’s why the public health department in California is strongly urging people to make sure their vaccinations are up to date, especially if they’re pregnant. State health officials are working closely with schools and local health departments to spread the word.

“Unlike some other vaccine-preventable diseases like measles, neither vaccination nor illness from pertussis offers lifetime immunity,” Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the California Department of Public Health, said in a statement. “However, vaccination is still the best defense against the potentially fatal diseases.”

All adults should get a Tdap booster, unless you had one as a teenager (after age 11).

The CDC declared 2012 to be the worst year for whooping cough in a half century, blaming inconsistent vaccinations and boosters for at least part of the outbreak.

Find out if your child is too sick for school and shop thermometers

Child with Whooping Cough
Child with Whooping Cough
Child with Whooping Cough

Image: Whooping cough sign, via Shutterstock
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