Posts Tagged ‘immunizations’

Two vaccines that every grandparent needs

Monday, October 24th, 2016

grandma and babyInfants are at risk of serious complications from both whooping cough and the flu. Grandparents, caregivers, and anyone who is going to be in contact with your baby should be up to date on their vaccinations for these two illnesses.

Flu

With rare exception, the CDC recommends that ALL people, 6 months and older get an annual flu vaccine. Flu viruses change every year, so just because you got a flu shot last year, doesn’t mean that you are protected this year. The flu shot is designed to protect against the flu viruses that are predicted to be the most common during the flu season. Also, immunity from vaccination decreases after a year. This is why everyone needs a flu vaccine every season.

It is especially important that people who will be around children younger than 6 months get the flu shot. Children under 6 months cannot get the flu vaccine and they have the highest risk for being hospitalized from flu compared to children of other ages. When your baby is 6 months old, she can get her own flu vaccine.

Whooping cough

Whooping cough (or pertussis) is a very contagious disease that can be deadly for babies. It is spread from person to person, usually by coughing or sneezing while in close contact with others. In most cases of whooping cough, someone in the baby’s family is the source of infection. It is possible for an adult to have whooping cough and not even know it.

Whooping cough can cause serious and sometimes life-threatening complications in babies, especially within the first 6 months of life. Many babies with whooping cough don’t cough at all. They stop breathing and turn blue. About half of babies who get whooping cough end up in the hospital.

Your baby can’t get her first whooping cough vaccine until she is 2 months old. And while most adults were vaccinated as children, or they may have even had whooping cough, protection unfortunately wears off over time. That is why it is especially important for pregnant women, dads, and ANYONE else who will be in close contact with your baby, including grandparents, to make sure that their whooping cough (Tdap) vaccine is current.

Cocooning your baby

Grandparents and other visitors to your newborn should get the Tdap and flu vaccines at least 2 weeks before meeting your baby. This strategy of surrounding babies with people who are protected against a disease, such as whooping cough, is called “cocooning.” A single Tdap shot is recommended for any adult (19 or older) who plan on having contact with your baby. If they already received their Tdap vaccine as an adult, they do not need to be vaccinated again. (However, pregnant women need to be vaccinated with Tdap during each pregnancy.)  And of course, everyone older than 6 months, should get their flu shot before spending time with your baby.

REMEMBER: Making sure that the people who will be in close contact with your baby are immunized is NOT a substitute for staying up to date with the childhood vaccination schedule. But it will help to your baby somewhat protected until she is old enough to get her own vaccines.

Have questions? Text or email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Vaccinating on time is important for disease protection

Friday, August 19th, 2016

Special thanks to the CDC for sharing this post with us.

baby vaccinationParents agree that feeding and sleep schedules are important to help keep their children healthy. The same goes for childhood immunizations. Vaccinating children on time is the best way to protect them from 14 serious and potentially deadly diseases before their second birthday.

“The recommended immunization schedule is designed to offer protection early in life,” said Dr. Candice Robinson, a pediatrician at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “when babies are vulnerable and before it’s likely they will be exposed to diseases.”

Public health and medical experts base their vaccine recommendations on many factors. They study information about diseases and vaccines very carefully to decide which vaccines kids should get and when they should get them for best protection.

Although the number of vaccines a child needs in the first two years of life may seem like a lot, doctors know a great deal about the human immune system, and they know that a healthy baby’s immune system can handle getting all vaccines when they are recommended.

Dr. Robinson cautions against parents delaying vaccination. “There is no known benefit to delaying vaccination. In fact, it puts babies at risk of getting sick because they are left vulnerable to catch serious diseases during the time they are not protected by vaccines.”

When parents choose not to vaccinate or to follow a delayed schedule, children are left unprotected against diseases that still circulate in this country, like measles and whooping cough.

In 2014, 667 people in the United States were reported as having measles; this is highest number of measles cases since the disease was eliminated from the United States in 2000. Staying on track with the immunization schedule ensures that children have the best protection against diseases like this by age 2.

Parents who are concerned about the number of shots given at one time can reduce the number given at a visit by using the flexibility built into the recommended immunization schedule. For example, the third dose of hepatitis B vaccine can be given at 6 through 18 months of age. Parents can work with their child’s healthcare professional to have their child get this dose at any time during that age range.

“I make sure my kids are vaccinated on time,” said Dr. Amanda Cohn, a pediatrician at CDC. “Getting children all the vaccines they need by age 2 is one of the best things parents can do to help keep their children safe and healthy.”

If you have questions about the childhood immunization schedule, talk with your child’s health care provider.

You can also visit our website for more information.

Have questions? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

 

Painful memories of mumps and chickenpox

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

Doctor talking with momIt’s World Immunization Week, a time to remember why pregnant women need certain vaccines, and why we vaccinate our kids.

I remember having mumps when I was four years old. My jaw swelled up and was so painful that I could not eat – even drinking was difficult. I remember crying from the pain and not having anything to relieve it.

Shortly after getting mumps, I remember having a bad case of chickenpox. The itchy rash drove me crazy. I scratched the fluid filled blisters on my skin until they bled (despite my parents telling me not to do so), and had scars on my skin for years.

When my kids were very young, they both had chickenpox – it was a month before the vaccine became available. They were miserable. Several years later, my daughter also had shingles. (After you have chicken pox, the virus remains “dormant” in your body. Shingles develops when the chickenpox virus “awakens.” It is a very painful condition which can linger for weeks.)

Complications can be serious

Nowadays, mumps and chickenpox are seen less and less in the United States due to vaccines. In fact, most parents who are vaccinating their children have never been sick with these diseases, making it easy to forget how serious they can be. They cause pain, discomfort, and in severe cases disability and even death.

In some cases, mumps may lead to inflammation of the testes, ovaries, brain (encephalitis), tissue covering the brain and spinal cord (meningitis), and even deafness.

Chickenpox can be especially serious for babies, pregnant women, adolescents, adults, and people with weakened immune systems. It can be harmful to your unborn baby or newborn if you get it during pregnancy (also called congenital varicella).

Pre vs post vaccine stats

According to the CDC, “Before the U.S. mumps vaccination program started in 1967, about 186,000 cases were reported each year. Since the pre-vaccine era, there has been a more than 99% decrease in mumps cases.” In 2015, there were only 1,057 cases of mumps in the U.S.

Likewise, chickenpox used to be very common in the U.S. before the vaccine became available in 1995. The CDC notes that in the early 1990’s, an average of 4 million people got chickenpox, 10,500 to 13,000 were hospitalized and 100 to 150 died each year. Most of the severe complications and deaths from chickenpox occurred in people who were previously healthy.

The CDC estimates that each year in the U.S., more than 3.5 million cases of chickenpox, 9,000 hospitalizations, and 100 deaths are prevented by the vaccine. The vaccine may not prevent all cases of chickenpox, but it is very effective at preventing the severe ones.

What can you do?

The best way to reduce the chance of you or your baby getting sick with mumps or chickenpox is to receive these and other vaccines before pregnancy.

Then, when your child is born, follow the immunization schedule to be sure he’s protected.

Have questions about vaccinating against chickenpox? See the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP’s) FAQs.

Not sure if/when you or your child should be vaccinated against mumps? See the AAP’s explainations.

Bottom line

There is so much we can’t control in life. But thankfully, getting mumps and chickenpox is something we can usually prevent through vaccinations.

 

Making vaccines easier for your child

Thursday, April 21st, 2016

Mom calming crying babyIn recognition of National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW), March of Dimes is participating in a blog relay to discuss the critical role vaccines play in protecting children, families, and communities against vaccine-preventable diseases. NIIW is sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). You can follow the NIIW conversation on social media using hashtag #NIIW.

Let’s face it – getting a shot is not a pleasant experience for you or your baby. But making sure your child receives her vaccines to stay healthy is so important! Vaccines allow children to become immune to a disease without actually getting sick from the disease. It is always better to prevent an illness than to treat it after it occurs.

Here are some tips to make getting vaccinations easier:

  • Provide comfort. Keep your baby cuddled in your lap and sing to her. Here are ways to hold your baby or young child while she receives her shot.
  • Bring her favorite toy, book or blanket.
  • Make eye contact with her and tell her everything will be okay.
  • Be honest with your child; tell her the she may feel a pinch, but the shot will keep her healthy.
  • After the shot, hug and praise your child. For your baby, swaddling, breastfeeding or a bottle may offer relief.
  • Before leaving the office, ask your provider to advise you about a non-aspirin pain reliever in case your child is uncomfortable after the shot.

Keep your baby on track

It is important to keep up-to-date with your child’s vaccinations. It may seem like your baby needs many shots, but remember, receiving multiple vaccines at one time does not overload her immune system. Several vaccines contain only a tiny fraction of what your baby is exposed to every day in her environment. And your baby needs more than one dose of certain vaccines because each one builds up her immunity. Here is a complete schedule of your baby’s vaccines along with answers to many of your questions.

Off track? Use this handy tool to help you get back on schedule.

For the top 5 reasons why vaccines are important to your child’s health, see this post. Still got questions? Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Remember: CDC strongly recommends giving babies the recommended immunizations by age two as the best way to protect them from 14 serious childhood diseases, like whooping cough and measles. You can learn more by visiting the CDC website. Be sure to stop by the other #NIIW relay participants’ blogs to learn about the benefits of immunization– tomorrow’s post will be hosted by What to Expect.

 

How vaccines work

Friday, July 31st, 2015

niam-logoVaccines protect you from diseases that can cause severe illness and even death. Vaccines work with your body’s immune system to help it recognize and fight these infections.

Usually when you are exposed to viruses or bacteria they cause infections that make you sick. To fight this infection, your immune system produces antibodies. These are special disease-fighting cells that attack the virus, destroy it, and make you better. In many cases, once you have made antibodies against a virus, you are then immune to the infection that it causes. This means that you cannot get sick from the same infection. For instance, if you had chickenpox as a child, you are immune to it later in life because your body has produced antibodies against the varicella virus (the virus that causes chickenpox). If you are exposed to the virus again, your antibodies recognize it and destroy it before it makes you sick.

Vaccines work with your body’s natural defenses to help you safely develop immunity to certain diseases. A vaccine uses a small piece of the virus or bacteria that causes the infection. Usually this virus is greatly weakened or it is killed. But it looks enough like the live virus to make your body react and make antibodies to attack the virus in the vaccine. This allows you to become immune to the disease without having to get sick first. For example, after you get the chickenpox vaccine, you will develop antibodies against the varicella virus, but you will not get chickenpox first. This factsheet from the CDC explains the body’s immune response to disease and how vaccines work in much more detail.

There are two main types of vaccines: weakened, live virus or inactivated, killed virus.

Vaccines that use weakened, live viruses include measles, mumps, rubella, rotavirus, flu mist, and chickenpox (varicella). Natural viruses reproduce thousands of times when they infect an individual. But weakened viruses can only reproduce about 20 times. This is not enough to make you sick, so they can’t cause disease. But even a few copies of the virus will cause your immune system to react and to make antibodies against the disease. The advantage of live, weakened vaccines is that typically you only need one or two doses (or shots) to provide immunity. However, live, weakened vaccines cannot be given to people with immune systems that don’t work as well as they should, because even such a small amount of virus could make them sick.

Vaccines that use inactivated or killed viruses include polio, hepatitis A, and the flu shot. The inactivated virus cannot reproduce and therefore cannot cause disease. But the immune system still makes antibodies to protect you against disease. The advantages of inactivated viruses are that the vaccine cannot cause the disease at all, and the vaccine can be given to people with weakened immune systems. The limitation of this method is that several doses of the vaccine are required before you are immune to the disease.

August is National Immunization Awareness month. It is important for people of all ages to protect their health with vaccines. In the upcoming weeks, we will be posting more information about vaccines for women who are thinking about getting pregnant, pregnant women, and babies.

Questions? Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Chickenpox, vaccinations and Angelina Jolie

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

VaccineAngelina Jolie coming down with chickenpox is a good reminder for all of us to keep our vaccinations up to date! Chickenpox, also called varicella, is caused by a virus. Its symptoms include an itchy rash, blisters and fever. And before the varicella vaccine, people usually got chickenpox during childhood. Now, most kids get the vaccine in the first few years of life.

As a kid, I remember getting chickenpox along with several others in my kindergarten class. And as itchy and uncomfortable as I was, I still didn’t get it as bad as my little sister did years later – in fact, she got it twice, but that’s rare! Come to think of it, my sister was slammed three times by the virus when she got shingles last year. That’s right – the virus that causes chickenpox can also cause shingles later in life.

For most of us who were “lucky” enough to catch chickenpox in childhood, we probably don’t have to worry about getting chickenpox in adulthood, like Mrs. Pitt. But if you’ve never had chickenpox or aren’t sure, talk to your provider about getting the varicella vaccine, especially if you’re thinking about getting pregnant. Having chickenpox during pregnancy may cause some babies to get congenital varicella syndrome, a group of birth defects. Not all vaccinations are safe to get during pregnancy, so it’s best to get the varicella vaccine before getting pregnant.

In the meantime, here’s hoping Angelina has a speedy recovery!

Vaccines and your baby

Friday, August 22nd, 2014

hapy babyIn the first 2 years of life, your baby gets several vaccines to protect her. Most parents dread watching their baby get these shots. But rest assured, vaccinations (also called immunizations) can be more painful for you than for her! She may be uncomfortable for a minute, but these important shots help protect her from some serious childhood diseases like polio, chickenpox, measles, mumps and the flu.

All children should be vaccinated for their own health and so they don’t spread infections to others. This schedule shows each vaccine your baby gets up to 6 years. It also shows how many doses she gets of each vaccine and when she gets them.

How do vaccines work?
Tiny organisms (like viruses and bacteria) can attack your body and cause infections that make you sick. When you get an infection, your body makes special disease-fighting substances called antibodies to fight the organism. In many cases, once your body has made antibodies against an organism, you become immune to the infection it causes. Immune means you are protected against getting an infection. If you’re immune to an infection, it means you can’t get the infection.

Vaccines usually contain a small amount or piece of the organism that causes an infection. The organisms used in vaccines are generally weakened or killed so they won’t make you sick. The vaccine causes your body to make antibodies against the organism. This allows you to become immune to an infection without getting sick first.

Some vaccines have a live but weakened organism. These are called live-virus vaccines. While live-virus vaccines are usually safe for most babies and adults, they’re not generally recommended for pregnant women.

All childhood vaccines are given in two or more doses. Your baby needs more than one dose because each one builds up her immunity to that particular disease. A second or third dose is needed to fully protect her. These doses work best if they’re spread out over time.

Are vaccines safe for my baby?
Vaccines are one of the best ways to avoid serious diseases caused by some viruses or bacteria. For vaccines to be most successful, everyone needs to get them.

Most babies don’t have side effects from vaccines. If they do, they usually aren’t serious. Some vaccines may cause a low fever, a rash or soreness at the spot where the shot was given. Although your baby may seem like he’s getting sick after a vaccination, these reactions are good signs that his immune system is working and learning to fight off infections.

Your baby should get vaccinations and boosters regularly, all the way through age 18. (Adults need vaccinations, too. You can read more about adult vaccinations before, during or after pregnancy, here.) If you have any questions about vaccinations, ask your baby’s health care provider for more information.

Vaccines save lives

Friday, May 2nd, 2014

immunizationsThis week is National Infant Immunization Week (April 26 – May 3, 2014).   This annual observance highlights the importance of protecting babies from vaccine-preventable diseases and celebrates the achievements of immunization programs.

In 1994 Vaccines for Children (VFC) was launched. This program provides vaccines for children whose parents may not be able to afford them. VFC was developed in response to a measles outbreak that ultimately caused over 100 deaths—even though the measles vaccine had been available since 1963.

In the 20 years since the VCF program was started, the CDC estimates “that vaccinations will prevent more than 21 million hospitalizations and 732,000 deaths among children born in the last 20 years.”

According to the CDC: “Several important milestones already have been reached in controlling vaccine-preventable diseases among infants worldwide. Vaccines have drastically reduced infant death and disability caused by preventable diseases in the United States. In addition:
• Through immunization, we can now protect infants and children from 14 vaccine-preventable diseases before age two.
• In the 1950s, nearly every child developed measles, and unfortunately, some even died from this serious disease. Today, few physicians just out of medical school will ever see a case of measles during their careers.
• Routine childhood immunization in one birth cohort prevents about 20 million cases of disease and about 42,000 deaths. It also saves about $13.5 billion in direct costs.
• The National Immunization Survey has consistently shown that childhood immunization rates for vaccines routinely recommended for children remain at or near record levels.”

As great as this news is, this year parts of the US are facing yet another measles outbreak. According to the CDC, as of April 18th, there have been 129 cases of measles. Most of these were contracted when individuals were out of the country. The people who have been infected were either not vaccinated, or did not know their vaccination status.

“Thanks to the VFC program,  children in our country are no longer at significant risk from diseases that once killed thousands each year,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H.  “Current outbreaks of measles in the U.S. serve as a reminder that these diseases are only a plane ride away. Borders can’t stop measles, but vaccination can.”

You can learn more about the VFC program here.

It is important that your vaccinations are up to date before you get pregnant and during pregnancy. You can find a vaccination schedule from birth through age 6 here.

Infant immunization week

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

2-play-matesThis year National Infant Immunization Week is from April 21-28. This annual observance is designed to highlight the importance of protecting infants from vaccine-preventable diseases.

Because of vaccines, some crippling and deadly diseases, like polio, have been all but eliminated here, but they are still very present in other countries. Other diseases that were once gone from the U. S. are now returning. The largest measles outbreak in 15 years has hit the United States. Most people who have recently become sick with the measles have not been vaccinated. They caught the measles in Europe (which is in the middle of a major epidemic), and brought the disease back to this country.

Pertussis (whooping cough) is a disease caused by bacteria that leads to coughing and choking that can last for several weeks. Babies who catch pertussis can get very sick, and some may die. The number of pertussis cases in this country has more than doubled since 2000. This may be because protection from the childhood vaccine fades over time. In the last few years, there have been several large pertussis outbreaks. Outbreaks are common in places like schools and hospitals. The disease spreads easily from person to person, usually by coughing or sneezing. Most infants who get pertussis catch it from someone in their family, often a parent.

All new parents need the pertussis vaccine. Until your baby gets her first pertussis shot at 2 months, the best way to protect her is for you to get the adult vaccine before pregnancy or soon after you have your baby. The vaccine prevents you from getting pertussis and passing it along to your baby. Caregivers, close friends and relatives who spend time with your baby, including grandparents, should get vaccinated, too.

To learn more about vaccines and to review the current recommended schedule for childhood vaccines, click on this link.

Experts say pregnant women should get whooping cough vaccine

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

There’s been yet another outbreak of pertussis  (whooping cough), this time in New York. In light of recent whooping cough outbreaks, an advisory panel for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends that pregnant women get the whooping cough vaccine.

It used to be that pregnant women were told to wait until after birth to get the pertussis vaccine. But the panel of experts says that by getting vaccinated during pregnancy, you can pass your antibodies (cells in the body that fight off infection) to your baby. This helps protect your baby from pertussis after he’s born and until he gets his pertussis vaccines. And with all of the pertussis outbreaks, your baby can use as much protection as he can get.

CDC will look into the advisory panel’s recommendation before changing its official vaccination guidelines, but it usually goes along with the panel’s advice. Check back with News Moms Need for updates on this issue. In the meantime, learn more about vaccinations during pregnancy and vaccinations for your baby.