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Friday, January 23rd, 2015
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
More About Measles
Image: Child being vaccinated via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, January 14th, 2015
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
Image: Nurse giving baby Rotavirus vaccine, via Shutterstock
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Child Health, New Research, Parenting News
Thursday, September 18th, 2014
With 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.
Photo of child receiving flu vaccination courtesy of Shutterstock.
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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.
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Friday, May 30th, 2014
The number of reported cases of measles continues to rise in the United States, according to federal health officials. Earlier in May, the number of illnesses hit an 18-year-high, and now the number has increased to 288 confirmed cases, a record high for the past 20 years. The number is also expected to continue to rise during the summer. More from the New York Times:
Largely because of resistance to vaccination, cases of measles have reached a 20-year high in the United States, federal health officials said on Thursday.
As of May 23, there were 288 confirmed cases in the United States — more than in all of 2013, and more than in the equivalent period of any year since 1994. The number is expected to increase during the summer travel season.
“This is not the kind of record we want to break,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of immunization and respiratory diseases for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The measles virus, which is highly contagious, usually causes only a fever and a rash. But it can lead to pneumonia, brain damage, deafness and even death. An unvaccinated American child who develops measles has about a one in 500 chance of dying, even with hospital care, according to the C.D.C.
There were fewer than 200 cases last year; the record low was 37 cases in 2004.
Eighty-five percent of this year’s cases were in people not vaccinated because of religious, philosophical or personal objections, Dr. Schuchat said.
In an unusual twist, over half were ages 20 or older. They may have included adults whose parents refused to vaccinate them years ago, she said.
Forty-three of the 288 who contracted the virus were hospitalized, most with pneumonia. None died.
Almost half the cases were part of a continuing outbreak in Amish communities in Ohio that started with missionaries who had traveled to the Philippines, which is experiencing an outbreak that has caused 41 deaths.
There were 60 cases in California, mostly in the San Francisco Bay Area and in Orange County, where large numbers of wealthy parents refuse to vaccinate their children.
The third-biggest outbreak was in New York City, which registered 26 cases in February and March. It was concentrated in Upper Manhattan, and cases are believed to have spread in hospital waiting rooms because doctors and nurses did not promptly recognize the symptoms. At least two children that contracted the virus were from families that refused vaccines; seven were too young to be vaccinated.
Of the cases whose origins could be traced, 22 were imported from the Philippines, six from India, two from China, and the rest from 15 other countries.
Measles can be caught virtually anywhere. France, the world’s most popular tourist destination, had an outbreak of 20,000 cases from 2008 to 2011.
Before measles vaccination became routine in the early 1960s, about 500,000 Americans got the virus each year, most of them young children. Of those, about 48,000 were hospitalized, about 500 died, and many more suffered brain damage and deafness.
Image: A sick cute girl is measuring the temperature via ShutterStock
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