Posts Tagged ‘vaccination’

Looking for a reason to get a flu shot? Here are 10 good ones.

Monday, December 5th, 2016

DoctorPregnant_zps3ac96800Many myths abound about whether a flu shot is important. Here are 10 facts that should convince you that a flu shot is good for you and your family:

  1. Flu can be life threatening. Children younger than 5, and especially kids younger than 2 are at a higher risk of complications from flu.
  2. Children of any age with long term health conditions, including developmental disabilities, are at a higher risk of serious problems from flu.
  3. Children with neurologic conditions, and kids who have trouble with lung function, difficulty coughing, swallowing or clearing their airways can have serious complications from flu.
  4. Pregnant women can have consequences from flu that include miscarriage, preterm labor, premature birth or giving birth to a baby with a low birthweight. It’s safe to get a flu shot any time during pregnancy.
  5. Babies can’t get their own flu shot until they are at least 6 months of age. This is another reason why women should get a flu shot during pregnancy. The protection will pass to the baby when she is born.
  6. Since babies are at risk until they’re vaccinated, protect them by making sure the people around them are vaccinated – all caretakers, family members and relatives.
  7. Adults older than age 65 (grandparents!) can suffer serious consequences from the flu.
  8. You don’t get the flu from the flu shot. It is made up of inactivated (dead) flu virus. You may experience soreness at the injection site, have a headache, aches or a fever but these symptoms should go away within a day or two. The flu lasts much longer and is more severe.
  9. Aside from barricading yourself in a room all winter long (?!) the best way to protect yourself from flu is to get vaccinated.
  10. This year, the flu vaccines have been updated to better match circulating viruses. There are also different options available, including one for people with egg allergies. Your healthcare provider can advise you.

So, what are you waiting for? Go get protected!

Here’s more info about people at high risk of developing flu-related complications and answers to frequently asked questions can be found here.

It’s time to get your flu shot…again

Friday, September 25th, 2015

midwife with pregnant womanInfluenza (also called flu) is a serious disease. It’s more than just a runny nose and sore throat. The flu can make you very sick, and it can be especially harmful if you get it during and right after pregnancy. Flu season is fast approaching and it’s time to schedule your flu shot now.

Who needs a flu shot?

Everyone 6 months and older should get an annual flu vaccine. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for your body to develop full protection against the flu. Getting the flu vaccine is especially important for children over 6 months, children with special needs, pregnant women and other high-risk groups.

I got a flu shot last year, why do I need another one?

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.

Are flu shots safe for pregnant women?

YES! All women who are pregnant should get a flu shot. It is safe to get the flu shot during pregnancy and it will protect you and your baby from serious health problems during and after pregnancy. However, remember that if you’re pregnant, you should not get the flu mist. It’s not safe to use during pregnancy.

Why is the flu so harmful during pregnancy?

The flu can be dangerous during pregnancy because:

  • Pregnancy affects your immune system. During pregnancy your immune system doesn’t respond as effectively to viruses and illnesses. This means you are more likely to catch the flu.
  • You are more likely to have serious complications. Health complications from the flu, such as pneumonia and bronchitis, can be very serious and even deadly.
  • Pregnant women who get the flu are more likely to have preterm labor and premature birth (before 37 weeks).

Where can I get a flu shot?

You can get the vaccine from your health care provider. Many pharmacies and work places also offer it each fall. You can use the HealthMap Vaccine Finder to find where the flu vaccine is available in your area.

The flu shot is the best way to protect you and your baby from the flu. You can learn more at flu.gov.

Have any questions? Email or text us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

 

Did you get your pertussis vaccine?

Monday, October 20th, 2014

Pertussis VaccinePertussis, also referred to as whooping cough, is a respiratory infection that is easily spread and very dangerous for a baby. Pertussis can cause severe and uncontrollable coughing and trouble breathing. Pertussis can be fatal, especially in babies less than 1 year of age. And, about half of those babies who get whooping cough are hospitalized. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has reported 17,325 cases of pertussis from January 1-August 16, 2014, which represents a 30% increase compared to this time period in 2013. The best way to protect your baby and yourself against pertussis is to get vaccinated.

If you are pregnant:

Pregnant women should get the pertussis vaccine. The vaccine is safe to get before, during or after pregnancy, but works best if you get it during your pregnancy to better protect your baby once he is born. Your body creates protective antibodies and passes some of them to your baby before birth, which provides short term protection after your baby is born.  Your baby won’t get the first of the 3 infant vaccinations until he is 2 months old, so your vaccination during pregnancy helps to protect him until he receives his vaccines. The pertussis vaccine is part of the Tdap vaccine (which also includes tetanus and diphtheria).

The CDC recommends women get the Tdap vaccine during every pregnancy. The best time to get the shot is between your 27th through 36th week of pregnancy.

The vaccine is also recommended for caregivers, close friends and relatives who spend time with your baby.

Click here for more information or speak with your prenatal health care provider.

Bottom line
Get vaccinated for pertussis  – it may save your baby’s life.

Vaccinations protect against HPV

Friday, August 8th, 2014

immunizationsHuman papillomavirus (HPV) is a common virus that is spread through sexual contact. There are about 40 types of HPV. Some types of HPV cause genital warts in both men and women. Others can increase a woman’s chance of cervical cancer and can cause other types of cancer in both men and women. However, a vaccine is available that can help prevent HPV infection.

HPV is a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Sexually transmitted diseases are infections that you can get from having sex with someone who is infected. You can get a STD from vaginal, anal or oral sex. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. According to the CDC, “HPV is so common that nearly all sexually active men and women get it at some point in their lives.” At this time, about 79 million Americans are infected with HPV and approximately 14 million people become infected each year.

In most cases, HPV goes away on its own and many people do not know they were ever infected. If HPV does not go away, however, then it is possible to develop genital warts or cancer. Unfortunately there is no way to know if you will develop cancer or other health problems if you have HPV.

Get vaccinated
One of the easiest ways you can reduce your risk of getting HPV is to get vaccinated. Two vaccines against HPV are available in the US. The vaccines are recommended for girls and boys between the ages of 11 to 12 years old.  Vaccination is also recommended for teen girls and young women through age 26 and teen boys through age 21, if they did not get the vaccine when they were younger.

Both vaccines protect against the two types of HPV that cause most cases of cervical cancer. One vaccine also protects against two additional types of HPV that cause most genital warts. The HPV vaccine is not recommended during pregnancy.

If you have HPV and get pregnant, you can get genital warts or develop abnormal cell changes on your cervix. These changes can be found during routine cervical cancer screening, such as a Pap smear. At your first prenatal checkup, your doctor will do a Pap smear to check for cervical cancer and other tests for vaginal infections.

New immunization symbol

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

immunize_rgb_fullcolor1The umbrella in this new symbol, representing protection of the community, tells the story of the power of immunizations. We have written many times about the importance of immunizations before pregnancy and throughout your child’s first years. Lately we have written about the need for adults, even grandparents to be vaccinated against pertussis and for everyone to receive a flu vaccine. (It’s that time of year!)

Some infections can harm you and your baby during pregnancy. Vaccinations build your immunity and help protect your body from infection. (They also protect you from getting a serious disease that could affect future pregnancies.) You pass this protection to your baby during pregnancy. This helps keep your baby safe during the first few months of life until he gets his own vaccinations. Some vaccinations are safe during pregnancy, but others are not. Here’s a link to information on which is which.

Whenever you see this new symbol, it should remind you to talk to your family’s health care providers to make sure all your vaccinations and your children’s vaccinations are up to date.

Flu can be serious for kids with special needs

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

flu-shots-signIt is very important that children with special needs get a flu shot. They are especially at risk for serious complications that can be life threatening, if they get the flu.

Which children are most at risk?

Children younger than 5 years of age and children of any age with a long-term health condition are at high risk of complications from flu. High risk conditions include:

• Developmental disabilities (including a moderate to severe developmental delay)
• Neurological and neurodevelopmental conditions, such as disorders of the brain and spinal cord, cerebral palsy, epilepsy (seizure disorders), stroke, intellectual disability (mental retardation), muscular dystrophy, or spinal cord injury.
• Chronic lung disease (such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease [COPD] and cystic fibrosis)
• Asthma
• Heart disease (such as congenital heart disease, congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease)
• Blood disorders (such as sickle cell disease)
• Endocrine disorders (such as diabetes mellitus)
• Kidney disorders
• Liver disorders
• Metabolic disorders (such as inherited metabolic disorders and mitochondrial disorders)
• Weakened immune system due to disease or medication (such as people with HIV or AIDS, or cancer, or those on chronic steroids)
• Children who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy.

Children in the high risk group are more likely to stay sick longer and have a more severe case of the flu, than children who are not in the high risk group. In fact, of all children who died from complications from the flu in 2009, nearly two thirds had a neurologic disorder.

A recent study  shows that many children with neurological disabilities did not receive a flu shot during the 2011-2012 flu season. The Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AIDD), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) urge health care providers and parents to vaccinate children against the flu, especially if they are in the high risk group.

Flu shot or nasal spray?

The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older get a flu vaccine. But, children with neurologic conditions and kids under the age of 2 should ONLY get the flu shot and NOT the nasal spray vaccine.

There are special vaccination instructions for children ages 6 months through 8 years. Ask your child’s health care provider or see the CDC’s recommendations.

What about babies under 6 months?

If your baby is under 6 months of age, he is too young to receive the flu vaccine. So, be sure that everyone in your household and those who come in contact with your baby is vaccinated against the flu to help keep your baby healthy.  Check out our website to learn ways to protect your infant.

Get yourself vaccinated – for your child’s sake

If your child has a chronic condition, it is even more important that you and all of your child’s caregivers receive the flu vaccine. You need to be at your best to be able to care for your child. If you are pregnant, it is also very important and recommended that you get a flu vaccine.

What if your child still gets the flu?

If your child gets the flu, be sure that he sees his health care provider as soon as he becomes ill. Treatment with antiviral drugs within 48 hours is recommended, to reduce the chance of becoming seriously ill.  Know the symptoms of flu:  fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue, and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea.

Bottom line

Each year an average of 20,000 children under the age of 5 are hospitalized because of flu complications. No one likes getting the flu.  But, it is vitally important that children with special needs get the flu shot. For them, getting the flu can be especially severe. So, talk to your child’s health care provider about getting your child immunized now.

Note: This post is part of the weekly series Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child. It was started in January and appears every Wednesday. Go to News Moms Need and click on “Help for your child” on the menu on the right side to view all of the blog posts to date. As always, we welcome your comments and input.

Have questions? Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Pertussis on the rise again

Thursday, July 18th, 2013

Some states, like Colorado and Texas, are reporting near record numbers of pertussis (whooping cough) cases this year. The number of pertussis cases in this country has more than doubled since 2000.

Pertussis leads to coughing and choking that can last for several weeks. Babies who catch pertussis can get very sick, and some may die. Most deaths from pertussis happen in babies less than 4 months old.

Please protect yourself and your children with the pertussis vaccine.
pertussis-infographic

Stay safe during summer travel

Friday, June 21st, 2013

luggageIt’s officially summer – YAY! If you’re from the Northeast, this summer is greatly welcomed after the winter we’ve had! Summer is a great time to travel and lots of people use this time to travel overseas. If you’re pregnant and healthy, chances are you can safely travel with your provider’s OK. But there are some things you should do to take extra care and be safe when traveling abroad.

Talk with your provider before taking any big trips. She can tell you if your pregnancy is healthy enough to travel and what steps you can take to stay healthy. Your provider may also talk to you about vaccinations during pregnancy to help keep you and your baby healthy.

Also, check out the Center’s for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) website for any travel advisories. The CDC just issued an advisory for travel to Japan and Poland due to a Rubella outbreak.  Rubella, also called German measles, is an infection that causes mild flu-like symptoms and a rash on the skin. It can cause serious problems for your baby during pregnancy.

Contact your health insurance carrier to be sure you’re covered for medical care if you’re overseas. Most insurance plans cover emergency medical care no matter where you are. But you need to know what your plan means by “emergency” to know exactly what it will pay for.

If you’re traveling by air, check with your airline to see if they have a cut-off time for traveling during pregnancy. You can fly on most airlines up to 36 weeks of pregnancy. But if you’re flying out of the country, the cut-off time may be earlier.

To learn more tips, read our web article on traveling during pregnancy.

The battle against pertussis

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

sarah-michelle-gellar2Actress and mother of two Sarah Michelle Gellar has joined March of Dimes and Sanofi Pasteur on the Sounds of Pertussis® Campaign to help raise awareness about pertussis, also known as whooping cough, and the importance of adult vaccination. Pertussis is on the rise across the U.S., and infants and young children may be most vulnerable.

“The reality is that parents, grandparents and other family members may unknowingly spread pertussis to the babies in their lives,” says Sarah Michelle Gellar. “That’s why I was vaccinated and so was my family to help protect ourselves and to help stop the spread of the disease to my two children. Now, as the National Sounds of Pertussis Campaign Ambassador I’m urging adults everywhere to do the same.”

Pertussis is a highly contagious and often serious disease, especially in young children. In 2012, there were more than 41,000 reported pertussis cases and 18 deaths in the U.S., with more than 83 percent of deaths occurring in infants younger than 12 months of age. Infants are particularly vulnerable to pertussis because they don’t begin receiving their own vaccinations until they are two months old and may not be protected until they have received at least three doses of the infant DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis) vaccine. Researchers found that in cases where it could be determined how an infant caught pertussis, family members were responsible for spreading the disease to the baby up to 80 percent of the time. More specifically, parents were responsible up to 50 percent of the time.

“Immunity from early childhood pertussis vaccinations wears off after about five to 10 years, meaning even adults who were immunized as children may no longer be protected,” says Siobhan M. Dolan, M.D., medical advisor to March of Dimes. “The best way for adults to help protect themselves and to help prevent the spread of the disease is to ensure they are vaccinated.”

Gellar is encouraging parents of infants everywhere to use the Campaign’s new Facebook application – the Breathing Room – that allows parents to send a brief message to family and friends in their Facebook network asking them to make the pledge to be vaccinated against pertussis before meeting the newborn in their life. Parents can personalize their own Breathing Room and help keep track of who in their child’s circle of care has been, or pledges to be, vaccinated against this potentially fatal disease by populating their baby’s virtual nursery with pictures of their family and friends from their Facebook network.

To learn more about the Sounds of Pertussis Campaign, please visit www.SoundsOfPertussis.com. The website provides resources and educational tools, including information on the new Breathing Room Facebook app.

Your child’s vaccinations

Friday, April 26th, 2013

baby-docApril 20-27 is National Infant Immunization Week, so today we’re here to remind you of the importance of getting your little one all the vaccines she needs.

I always hated watching my kids get vaccinations (also called immunizations) and winced when they weren’t looking. If you’re a parent, it may actually seem more painful for you than for them! They may be uncomfortable for a minute, but these important shots help protect them 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 or diseases to others. It’s important to keep a record of what your little ones have received so you know what’s coming up next. All childhood vaccines are given in two or more doses. Your baby needs more than one dose because each one builds up her immunity. Immunity is her body’s protection from disease. A second or third dose is needed to fully protect her. These doses work best if they’re spread out over time.

In the first 2 years of life, your baby gets several vaccines to protect her. This handy schedule shows each vaccine your baby gets up to 6 years of age. It also shows how many doses she gets of each vaccine and when she needs to get them. Your baby should get vaccinations and boosters regularly, all the way through age 18.

Often health care providers will hand out a booklet or form to parents to help them keep a record of their child’s vaccinations. Ask your child’s doc if he has one for you to use.