Posts Tagged ‘vaccine’

Shingles exposure during pregnancy

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

pregnant-womanEvery so often we get a question from a pregnant woman who is concerned because someone in her family (usually a parent or in-law) has shingles. She is worried that she may be at-risk to develop this as well. Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox– the varicella zoster virus (VZV). Once you have had chickenpox, this virus continues to live dormant, inside your body. Sometimes, under conditions of stress or when the immune system is weakened, the virus can be reactivated. When this happens the virus does not cause chickenpox but shingles.

Almost 1 out of every 3 people in the United States will develop shingles. Anyone who has had chickenpox may develop shingles, including pregnant women and even children. But about half of all cases actually occur among people 60 years old or older. There is now a vaccine available for people over age 60 to prevent shingles.

The varicella zoster virus can only be spread by an affected person to someone who has NOT had chickenpox. If this happens, the exposed person will develop chickenpox—not shingles.  Once you have had chickenpox, antibodies are in your system and you cannot get it again, but you will have the potential to develop shingles.

You cannot catch shingles from someone who has shingles. You can, however,catch chickenpox from someone who has shingles. If you are not immune to the varicella zoster virus and you are exposed to someone who has shingles there is a very small chance that you could develop chickenpox. Shingles is not spread through the air and infection can only occur after direct contact with the rash when it is in the blister-phase. A person with shingles is not contagious before the blisters appear or after they scab over.

If you have been exposed to someone with shingles, and you have not had chickenpox or the vaccine, make sure you talk to your health care provider. Shingles is less contagious than chickenpox and the risk of a person with shingles spreading the virus is low if the rash is covered.

Remember, if you have had chickenpox, it is possible to develop shingles during pregnancy. If you do develop shingles, make sure you contact your health care provider right away. The most common symptom is a painful rash on one side of the face or body. The rash forms blisters that typically scab over in 7–10 days and clear up within 2–4 weeks. There is often pain, itching, or tingling in the area where the rash will develop.

Shingles can be quite painful but treatments with antiviral medications are available. These can lessen the severity and reduce the discomforts. And, for women who do develop shingles during pregnancy, the prognosis is good.

Picture a world without pertussis

Thursday, June 14th, 2012
(c) 2011 Jeff Gordon

(c) 2011 Jeff Gordon

The fight against pertussis (whooping cough) continues with the number of cases increasing nearly 73 percent this year from the same time period in 2011. To help families across the country picture a world without pertussis, the Sounds of Pertussis® Campaign, a joint initiative from Sanofi Pasteur and March of Dimes, is launching “Take Pertussis Out of the Picture.”
Campaign spokesperson and four-time NASCAR Cup Series Champion Jeff Gordon is inviting all Americans to take the pledge to get an adult pertussis vaccine and participate in the “Take Pertussis Out of the Picture” initiative on Facebook. Leading the way, Gordon has shown his support and shared his family photo!  Here’s how you can join the cause and spread the word:
•         Step 1: Visit the Sounds of Pertussis Facebook page and join the community 
•         Step 2: Submit a family photo and make your pledge to take pertussis out of the picture. For each photo published on the Facebook page, Sanofi Pasteur will donate $1 to March of Dimes (up to $10,000).
•         Step 3: Share your photo with family and friends and let them know about this important initiative
Learn more about the Sounds of Pertussis® Campaign and “Take Pertussis Out of the Picture” at or Let’s work together to take pertussis out of the picture!

Vaccine recommended for all seniors

Monday, February 27th, 2012

vaccineAdvisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are expanding an earlier recommendation that seniors be vaccinated against whooping cough (pertussis).  They now recommend that all adults 65 and older be immunized, not just those who are caring for babies.

Researchers believe whooping cough occurs more frequently in older adults than had been previously observed. That may help explain outbreaks of pertussis in California and other states in the past few years.  Also, research has shown that immunity to the bacteria that cause whooping cough can wear off over time, which is why adults need to get booster shots.

The T-DAP vaccine protects against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough. It’s routinely given to children starting at 2 months. But three shots, usually done by 6 months, are needed to be sure a child’s immune system can fight off the bacteria that cause pertussis.

To protect the youngest and most vulnerable children, those who haven’t been fully vaccinated, it’s important that relatives and other people in the community be vaccinated to prevent spread of whooping cough.

Sounds of pertussis

Friday, May 13th, 2011

sick-child-2Pertussis, whooping cough, is on the rise. It can cause serious illness in infants, children and adults. The disease starts like the common cold, with runny nose or congestion, sneezing, and maybe mild cough or fever. But after 1–2 weeks, severe coughing can begin.

Pertussis can cause violent and rapid coughing, over and over, until there is no more air in the lungs and you’re forced to inhale with a loud “whooping” sound. In infants, the cough can be slight or not even there. But Pertussis is most severe for little ones. More than half of babies under the age of one year who get the disease must be hospitalized. About 1 in 5 infants with pertussis get pneumonia, and about 1 in 100 will have convulsions. In rare cases (1 in 100), pertussis can be deadly, especially in infants.

People with pertussis usually spread the disease by coughing or sneezing while they’re around others, who then breathe in the pertussis bacteria. Many infants who get pertussis are infected by parents, older brothers and sisters, or other caregivers who might not even know they have the disease. (My 34 year old daughter actually had it last November!) Vaccination wears off, so it’s not safe to assume that the vaccine you received when you were young will protect you today.

The Sounds of Pertussis Campaign launched Race to Blanket America, an effort to blanket the country with pertussis education and encourage adults to get vaccinated against pertussis. The centerpiece of the Race to Blanket America is the Sounds of Pertussis Protection Quilt, which symbolizes how those closest to babies can help create a “cocoon” — a blanket of protection — around the tiniest members of their family by getting an adult and adolescent tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis (Tdap) booster vaccination. Learn more and talk with your provider about getting your booster.

Whooping cough on the rise

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

coughingWhooping cough, also called pertussis, is on the rise, even among people who have been vaccinated. In the past year, cases in California have increased seven-fold, with 2,774 confirmed cases. Outbreaks have also occurred in New York, South Carolina and Michigan.

No one really knows why the disease is increasing, but we do know that the vaccine is not 100% effecive. If whooping cough is circulating in a community, it’s possible for a vaccinated person to get the disease.

The effectieness of the vaccine fades over time. So adolescents and adults may need to be revaccinated; check with your health care provider.

Because some of the symptoms of whooping cough are similar to a cold, it may take a while for a person to realize it’s more than a cold. But after 1-2 weeks, severe coughing begins.   

Infants and children who have the disease cough often and violently; they inhale with a loud “whooping sound.” Whooping cough is most severe in babies.

To learn more, go to the Sounds of Pertussis Web site. The U.S  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has helpful information.

Temporary suspension: Rotarix vaccine

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

lab-glassYoung children are routinely vaccinated against rotavirus disease to help prevent severe diarrhea and dehydration. Before the vaccine, tens of thousands of children in the United States were hospitalized ever year with rotavirus disease; some of them died.

The trade names for the rotavirus vaccine are Rotarix and RotaTeq. These two forms of the vaccine are made by different companies.

Today the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) asked health providers to temporarily stop using Rotarix. Pieces of a virus called PCV1 have been found in Rotarix.

The FDA stressed that there is no evidence that these virus fragments pose a safety risk. But the agency wants to be cautious and do additional research to be sure.

If your child has received Rotarix, don’t be alarmed. He or she doesn’t need any special follow-up medical care. But if you have questions, call your child’s health care provider.

Reseachers have not found any traces of virus in  RotaTeq, the second form of vaccine against rotavirus disease. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies be vaccinated against rotavirus. So for now, RotaTeq is the vaccine to be used.

National Flu Vaccination Week: It’s not too late to get your shots

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

flu-vac-week-2010Most pregnant women should be sure to get two flu shots this year: one for regular seasonal flu and one for the new H1N1 flu (also called swine flu). It’s not too late. Most health care providers now have plenty of vaccine.

Flu season isn’t over yet, so don’t wait. Flu can be very serious for pregnant women and the babies they are carrying. High fever is especially dangerous for a developing fetus. So get your shots right away.

And if you’re already a mom, check with your child’s health care provider. Most children should be vaccinated against seasonal and H1N1 flu.

For more info, watch the March of Dimes video on flu and pregnancy.

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.

Is there thimerosal in the H1N1 vaccine?

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

vaccine1Some H1N1 flu vaccines have a preservative called thimerosal. Although some people have suggested a link between thimerosal and autism,  medical experts from the Institutes of Medicine (IOM) have thoroughly researched the issue and concluded that thimerosal-containing vaccines are NOT associated with autism. However, if you’re still concerned, a thimerosal-free version of the H1N1 vaccine is available.

The 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccines that FDA is licensing (approving) will be manufactured in several formulations. Some will come in multi-dose vials and will contain thimerosal as a preservative. Multi-dose vials of seasonal influenza vaccine also contain thimerosal to prevent potential contamination after the vial is opened.

Some vaccine manufacturers will be producing 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccine in single-dose units, which will not require the use of thimerosal as a preservative. In addition, the live-attenuated version of the vaccine, which is administered intranasally (through the nose), is produced in single-units and will not contain thimerosal.  The nasal spray version, however, is not recommended for pregnant women.

Webcast for pregnant women and new moms: Swine flu

Monday, August 31st, 2009

woman-at-computerThe flu season will be here before you know it. Health experts believe the swine flu will be back along with the regular seasonal flu.

To help pregnant women and new moms learn more, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) aired a Webcast last Thursday. It’s now archived on the CDC Web site.

By the way, swine flu is now also called H1N1 flu. And the vaccine is expected in October. Pregnant women are one of the top-priority groups for receiving the vaccine.  News Moms Need will let you know as soon as the vaccine is ready.

Also, pregnant women should be vaccinated against seasonal flu. That vaccine is already available. So if you’re pregnant, ask your health care provider about it now.