Posts Tagged ‘vaccinations’

Prevent to protect: talk to your health care provider

Friday, January 6th, 2017

Pregnant woman talking with doctorJanuary is Birth Defects Prevention month. In the United States, a baby is born with a birth defect every 4 ½ minutes. Some infections before and during pregnancy can have serious consequences, including causing certain birth defects. Talking to your health care provider is an important way that you can help prevent infections and protect you and your baby.

During your preconception checkup or your first prenatal visit, talk to your health care provider about:

How to prevent infections

  • Maintain good hygiene. Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially when preparing food or caring for young children.
  • Take precautions to protect yourself from animals known to carry diseases and insects that may carry infections, such as Zika.
  • Stay away from wild or pet rodents, live poultry, lizards, and turtles.
  • Do not clean a cat litter box during pregnancy.
  • Avoid travel to Zika-affected areas. Be sure to discuss any travel plans with your provider.
  • When mosquitoes are active, prevent mosquito bites using an EPA-registered bug spray containing one of these ingredients: DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol or IR3535. Wear appropriate clothing (hat, long-sleeved shirt, pants, shoes, & socks).
  • Don’t have sex with a male or female partner who may be infected with Zika virus or who has recently travelled to a Zika-affected area.

Vaccinations before pregnancy

It’s best to be up to date on all your routine adult vaccinations before you get pregnant. These vaccinations are recommended before pregnancy:

  • Flu. Get the flu vaccine once a year before flu season (October through May). There are many different flu viruses, and they’re always changing. Each year a new flu vaccine is made to protect against three or four flu viruses that are likely to make people sick during the upcoming flu season.
  • HPV (human papillomavirus). This vaccine protects against the infection that causes genital warts. The infection also may lead to cervical cancer. The CDC recommends that women up to age 26 get the HPV vaccine.
  • MMR (measles, mumps and rubella). This vaccine protects you against measles, mumps and rubella (also called German measles). Measles during pregnancy can cause miscarriage. Rubella can cause serious problems during pregnancy, such as miscarriage, stillbirth, and birth defects.
  • Varicella. This vaccine protects you from chickenpox, an infection that spreads easily and causes itchy skin, rash and fever. During pregnancy, it can be dangerous for a baby and cause birth defects. If you’re thinking about getting pregnant and haven’t had chickenpox or been vaccinated for it, tell your provider.

Vaccinations during pregnancy

The CDC recommends two vaccinations during pregnancy:

  • Flu shot if you weren’t vaccinated before pregnancy. You can get a flu shot at any time during pregnancy.
  • Pertussis vaccine (Tdap) at 27 to 36 weeks of pregnancy. Pertussis (also called whooping cough) is an extremely contagious disease that causes violent coughing and is dangerous for a baby. Pregnant women should get a dose of Tdap during every pregnancy, to protect their baby.

Remember, preventing infections before and during pregnancy can help to keep you and your baby safe. Speaking with your healthcare provider can help you become as healthy as possible before and during pregnancy.

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

 

Do adults really need vaccines?

Monday, August 1st, 2016

Doctor with pregnant woman during check-upJennifer and Will hope to start a family later this year. Do either of them need vaccines before trying to conceive?

Sophia is pregnant with her second child. She remembers getting a couple of vaccines when she was pregnant with her first child. Does she need to get them again?

Lorraine and Bob just became grandparents and hope to do a lot of babysitting. Do they need any vaccines before being with their granddaughter?

The answers to all of the above? YES!

Children are not the only ones who need vaccines. Adults need them, too. As you can see from the above scenarios, vaccines are necessary before, during and after pregnancy.

Before pregnancy

Make sure your vaccinations are current so that they protect you and your baby during pregnancy. Then, ask your provider how long you need to wait before you try to get pregnant.

Are you up to date on your MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine?  This one is important because rubella is a contagious disease that can be very dangerous if you get it while you are pregnant.  In fact, it can cause a miscarriage or serious birth defects. The best protection against rubella is the MMR vaccine, but you need it before you get pregnant.  Then, you should avoid trying to get pregnant for at least four weeks after getting the vaccine.

During pregnancy

When you get vaccines, you aren’t just protecting yourself—you are giving your baby some early protection too. CDC recommends you get a whooping cough and flu vaccine during each pregnancy to help protect yourself and your baby.

  • Whooping cough (or Tdap) vaccine – Get this at 27 – 36 weeks of pregnancy. You need to get the Tdap vaccine in each and every pregnancy. This ensures that you pass your protection on to your baby, which will help keep him safe until he is able to get his own pertussis vaccination at 2 months of age.
  • Flu – A flu shot during pregnancy protects you from serious complications and protects your baby for up to 6 months after birth. You need a flu shot every year, as the flu strain changes year to year.

After pregnancy

Although getting vaccines during pregnancy is very important, you also need to think about those individuals who will be near your baby.

At the very least, fathers, grandparents, caregivers and anyone who is going to be in contact with your baby should be immunized against pertussis (whooping cough) and flu. They 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.”

However, cocooning might not be enough to prevent your baby from getting sick. This is because cocooning does not provide any direct protection (antibodies) to your baby, and it can be difficult to make sure everyone who is around your baby has gotten their whooping cough vaccine. Therefore, it is even more important that you get your vaccines while you are pregnant.

A baby is not able to start getting most of his vaccines until he is at least two months old. For example, aside from the Hepatitis B vaccine that is given to your baby in the hospital, the first of 5 doses of the DTap (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis) vaccine is given at 2 months of age. The flu vaccine is not given until 6 months, and the MMR, varicella (chickenpox), and hepatitis A vaccines are not given until 12 months.

If you haven’t received all your vaccinations before or during pregnancy, talk to your provider after giving birth to see about getting caught up to protect yourself and your baby.

What are “boosters?”

Even if you got all of your vaccinations during your life, some vaccines need “boosters” because they wear off over time. Talk with your health care provider to see whether you need them. With a little preparation and forethought, you and your baby will be protected against diseases that could be dangerous or even deadly.

Test your knowledge

Take the CDC’s Vaccines and Pregnancy Quiz for a fun way to learn what vaccines you need before and during pregnancy. It is quick and easy, and you’ll learn something whether you get the answers right or wrong.  No judgment! And check out their new Pregnancy and Vaccination page.

Have questions? Text or email them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

What you need to know about birth defects

Monday, January 18th, 2016

snugglingEvery 4 ½ minutes in the US, a baby is born with a birth defect. That means that nearly 120,000 (or 1 in every 33) babies are affected by birth defects each year. They are a leading cause of death in the first year of life, causing one in every five infant deaths and they lead to $2.6 billion per year in hospital costs alone in the United States.

What are birth defects?

Birth defects are health conditions that are present at birth. They change the shape or function of one or more parts of the body and can affect any part of the body (such as the heart, brain, foot, etc). They may affect how the body looks, works, or both.

There are thousands of different birth defects and they can be very mild or very severe. Some do not require any treatment, while others may require surgery or lifelong medical interventions.

What causes birth defects?

We know what causes certain birth defects. For instance, drinking alcohol while you are pregnant can cause your baby to be born with  physical birth defects and mental impairment. And genetic conditions, such as cystic fibrosis or sickle cell disease, are the result of inheriting a mutation (change) in a single gene. However, we do not know what causes the majority of birth defects. In most cases, it is a number of complex factors. The interaction of multiple genes, personal behaviors, and our environment all may all play a role.

Can we prevent birth defects?

Most birth defects cannot be prevented. But there are some things that a woman can do before and during pregnancy to increase her chance of having a healthy baby:

  • See your healthcare provider before pregnancy and start prenatal care as soon as you think you’re pregnant.
  • Get 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day. Folic acid reduces the chance of having a baby with a neural tube defect.
  • Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, and “street” drugs.
  • Talk to your provider about any medications you are taking, including prescription and over-the-counter medications and any dietary or herbal supplements. Talk to your provider before you start or stop taking any type of medications.
  • Prevent infections during pregnancy. Wash your hands and make sure your vaccinations are up to date.
  • Make sure chronic medical conditions are under control, before pregnancy. Some conditions, like diabetes and obesity, may increase the risk for birth defects.
  • Learn about your family health history.

Have questions? Email us at 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!

I got my flu vaccine. Did you get yours?

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

vaccineIt’s the tail end of my pregnancy and I’ve been busy getting all sorts of things ready to welcome our second baby. One thing I recently crossed off my to-do list was to have all of us (my husband, our daughter and me) get our yearly flu vaccine to protect us from flu.

Getting the flu is more than just having the sniffles or a cough. I got the flu once several years ago and it completely wiped me out! I felt like I’d been hit by a truck. I had trouble breathing, no appetite, fever and chills, and was always exhausted even though I slept for most of the day. I was so sick that I never want to get the flu again!

It’s important for everyone to get the flu vaccine, but that’s especially true if you’re pregnant. That’s because you’re much more likely to have serious health complications from flu during pregnancy. Some health complications include miscarriage, preterm labor, premature birth or having a low-birthweight baby. In some cases, flu during pregnancy can even be deadly.

Don’t forget to have your partner and other children get their flu vaccine, too. Babies can get their first flu vaccine at age 6 months. But for us, our newborn baby will be too young to get his or her flu vaccine for much of this year’s flu season. So, the best way to protect our new baby and the rest of us from flu is to make sure the whole family gets the flu vaccine.

If you have any questions about getting the flu vaccine, talk to your health provider. Learn more about vaccinations during pregnancy and your baby’s vaccinations. Visit flu.gov for more information on flu.

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.

Get your vaccinations before summer travel

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

family-at-the-beachAfter a very rough winter and a rainy spring, summer is finally here! In a few weeks, my husband, my baby girl and I (with Lola in tow) will be traveling and heading to the beach for a couple of weeks. My baby girl just had her well baby visit this week, so she’s up to date on all of her vaccines and is ready to travel.

Summer is a great time to make sure your family’s vaccinations are up to date, especially this year. There’s been a recent outbreak of measles (an infection caused by a virus) in this country – the largest measles outbreak in 15 years. Most people who recently caught the measles were not vaccinated. They caught the measles in Europe (which is the middle of a major epidemic) and brought the disease back to the U.S.

Measles is easily spread and causes rash, cough and fever. In some cases, it can lead to diarrhea, ear infection, pneumonia, brain damage or even death. Measles can cause serious health problems in young children. It can also be especially harmful to pregnant women and can cause miscarriage.

Talk to your provider to find out if your and your family’s vaccines are up to date, especially when it comes to the measles. If you’re thinking about getting pregnant, wait 1 month before trying to get pregnant after getting the measles vaccine (MMR, which protects against measles, mumps and rubella). If you’re already pregnant, you’ll need to wait until after giving birth to get the vaccine.

If you’re  traveling out of the country with your baby and she’s 6-11 months old, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that she get her first shot of the MMR vaccine before traveling. If your baby is 12-15 months, then she should get two shots (separated by 28 days) before traveling.

Time for flu shots, and most will be free this year

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends annual seasonal influenza immunization for all children above the age of 6 months, including teens.  If you want to read it, the AAP policy statement, “Recommendations for Prevention and Control of Influenza in Children, 2010-2011,” will be published in the October 2010 print issue of the journal Pediatrics and released earlier online.

Influenza can be a serious illness for young children, especially between the ages of 6 months and five years.  It is recommended that special efforts should be made to immunize all family members, household contacts, and out-of-home care providers of children who are aged younger than 5 years; children with high-risk conditions (ie, asthma, diabetes or neurologic disorders); healthcare personnel; and pregnant women.

The vaccine should be much easier to get this year.  Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, says the federal Affordable Care Act mandates for the first time that Medicare and private health plans offer flu vaccine coverage without co-pays or deductibles. Uninsured children are covered under the federal Vaccines for Children program.

Although two influenza vaccines were recommended last year, only a single trivalent vaccine is being manufactured for the current 2010-2011 seasonal influenza vaccine schedule and there will be plenty of it available.  This year’s vaccine protects against 2009 H1N1, or swine flu, and the two other flu viruses that also are expected to cause disease this year.

Mumps outbreak

Friday, November 20th, 2009

When was the last time you ever heard of someone getting the mumps? While most of us can say it’s been a while (if not, never), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting the largest outbreak of mumps in three years. Most of these outbreaks took place in New York and New Jersey.

Friendly reminder – the best way to protect kids from getting the mumps is by getting kids vaccinated. The combination measles-mumps-rubella immunization helps protect kids against these illnesses, which are less common thanks to the large number of kids and people who’ve been vaccinated over the years. Women who aren’t sure if they’ve been vaccinated against the mumps can also talk to their health providers about getting this vaccine before getting pregnant (this vaccine cannot be given during pregnancy). It’s important that the immunization rates in our population stay at high levels to avoid the opportunity for this and other diseases to return with full force.

Learn more about other important immunizations for your child.