Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘Vaccine Preventable Diseases’

Why I Advocate for the HPV Vaccine After Cancer Took My Husband’s Life

Guest post by Mary Ann Martin

As National Cancer Prevention Month draws to a close, Mary Ann Martin shares the story of her husband’s battle with HPV-associated anal cancer and explains why she advocates for the vaccine that can prevent the cancer that took her husband’s life. 

Read more

Advertisements

Guest Mom Susan: Making the Right Choice

Guest blogger Susan Wells is the mom to two girls, ages 5 and 8. She is an active mom who hikes, photographs, crafts, lives green, volunteers and explores with her children. She works as a blogger and social media strategist for Steve Spangler Science, a Colorado company dedicated to helping teachers and parents get children excited about science. Susan is also the City Editor for Savvy Source and blogs at TwoHandsTwoFeet.com.

My oldest daughter was born in 2001 amidst the debate that “vaccinations cause autism.” I felt inundated with many claims and stories about the dangers of vaccinations. I began to question my rock solid beliefs that inoculations are a necessity in childhood.

The sheer number of shots a baby begins to receive at two months and continues through two years is unsettling to any new parent. Top that off with claims that the shots could be toxic and parents have a hard time understanding the right path to take.

The torment that both my daughter and I had to endure at each appointment was draining. Nurses handed me packets of information on devastating diseases along with a pages of possible side effects. I had to agree to let the nurses inject her sweet baby legs with what I hoped to be life saving vaccine and not a toxic mixture that would cause her problems down the road. I had to decide, which was worse, the shot or the chance she would come down with one of the life-threatening diseases.

I chose the shot every time.

Back then I was confused about the safety of vaccinations and outside of my doctor, I wasn’t sure where to turn for accurate information. Now that I have found the Colorado Children’s Immunization Coalition, I have a powerful resource to look to when questions arise about immunizations. I only wish I had a resource like CCIC back in the early days to help me sort it all out.

My daughter had some of the more mild side effects from the injections. She developed large welts where the shots were injected. She had fevers for two days following the shots. The first few injections were tough, but we learned to anticipate and treat the symptoms. I reminded myself over and over that a welt for a week or two was better than a hospital stay and a 101 fever was better than a 104 fever.

The immunizations gave me peace of mind that my baby would stay healthy and protected.

I have done my research and continue to do my research on immunizations. I keep my daughters protected from the potentially life-threatening diseases that are controlled through vaccines.

When H1N1 began making the rounds, I anxiously waited for the vaccine to become available to protect my children. I stayed up on the latest research and news about the safety of the vaccine. I read the CCIC website and I stayed connected to my doctor’s office. And my daughters both received the vaccine when it became available.

Throughout the last decade a lot of misinformation and publicity has surrounded the safety of vaccinations. It has catapulted a trusted and necessary part of childhood into an international debate about the safety of vaccinations.

The claims against vaccinations have led to state legislatures adding provisions that make it easier for parents to opt out of vaccinations on philosophical or religious grounds. With some parents opting out, the occurrence of diseases like measles is on the rise.

Getting your children vaccinated can be a traumatic time for both parent and child, but it is key to keeping your children healthy. I held my breath during those shots but I have never looked back. I believe it was the right decision.

My advice; do the research before you take your baby to the doctor. Organizations like the Colorado Children’s Immunization Coalition and talking with your pediatrician will help put your mind at ease and help you make the right choice in immunizing your child.

Herd Immunity: We’re all in this together!

I love the community I live in. I choose Colorado because of the mountains, the four seasons of outdoor fun, the friendly people and fresh air. I raise kids, work and volunteer in my community. I feel a sense of responsibility to the people in my community.

Whether attending a school board meeting, joining in the St. Patrick’s Day parade, attending worship on Sundays or going to the club for a workout, I am aware of my community what it gives me and my family and how we give back. I look around at the playgrounds, kids clubs, schools, church nurseries, sports complexes and bike trails and think “I’m glad I live here and can be a part of it.” These people are my family, friends, and neighbors, it’s my herd. Being a member of a herd has it privileges and responsibilities.

One of these responsibilities is to help protect the herd’s safety. I can do this by choosing to vaccinate my children. My children have a strong immune system; they have no allergies to medications or vaccine ingredients, and appear to respond well to vaccines. By protecting them with vaccines, I protect others in my herd that are too young to get vaccines , have severe allergies to vaccine ingredients, have a medical condition that prevents them from getting vaccinated, or that small number of kids who are unable to build immunity even when they get vaccinated.

A child who cannot get immunity through vaccines relies on us to protect them. They rely on the herd to protect them! If my child is immune to measles, she can’t infect a child who is too young to vaccinate. But if my daughter never got the vaccine, she can not only get measles herself, she can spread it to others who are not immune. She could spread measles to my medically fragile nephew or to my colleague’s premature daughter with compromised respiratory system and asthmatic complications or to my neighbor’s new born who at five weeks won’t be eligible for his first set of shots for three more weeks! My herd is vulnerable.

Herd immunity only works well when those who can do vaccinate! It has been proven time and again that once healthy people choose to stop vaccinating disease rates go up.

Although vaccines have been very successful in preventing disease, we have not eliminated these nasty illnesses. Without the protection of a highly immunized population, disease will begin to rise. Risk remains.

Think about your community, who needs protecting? What choices can you make to ensure protection?

The Risk of the Intentional Unvaccinated

I was able to celebrate a friend’s coming baby at a shower this past weekend. The parents knew they are having a girl in May, so how were the gifts? Cute…cuter…and cutest! So much pink and brown! Such cute outfits! Such tiny shoes and pretty accessories!

As the mom-to-be opened gifts the conversation turned towards child rearing. The group of women ranged in age from late 20s to grandmothers (about to be great grandmothers), it became clear that, there was a wide-range of gifts but also a wide range of opinions on vaccines.

The younger crowd gave diaper wipe warmers, a stylish breastfeeding Boppy that matched the nursery decor, designer diaper bags that could go from the playground during the day to The MET at night! These were the women who questioned the need for vaccines

What diseases? Haven’t we eradicated them all?

Childhood diseases are a thing of the past, they’ve moved on to more contemporary diseases like AIDS and breast cancer.

The older crowd gave gifts such a delicate hand-knitted dresses, beautifully hand-stitched quilts (no machine stitching for these diehards), and a homemade diaper wipe holder made from what appeared to be a place mat. Born before the routine childhood series was available, these women have seen the ravages polio and diphtheria. They recall classmates paralyzed by polio, months spent in iron lungs, metal leg braces, and babies who coughed themselves to death before their third birthday. When they vaccinated their children, it was a modern medical wonder. It is their hope that their grandchildren would choose to vaccinate, too.

But sometimes children are not getting the vaccines they need to protect them from these nasty diseases. Some parents would rather “risk” the disease. That makes me uneasy for their child and angry because of the risk to all other children. Their “risk” isn’t limited to just their child or even to just their family. We ALL take that risk and here’s why.

When community vaccination levels fall below the recommended effective coverage levels of 90% , it leaves an opening for disease. Think we’ve eradicated disease? Think again. Check out this new report from the Journal of Pediatrics that profiles the case of a 7-year-old whose parents intentionally didn’t vaccinate him. The boy went to Europe and contracted measles, and when he returned to San Diego, he unknowingly exposed 839 people.

Measles are highly contagious spread through the air by coughing and sneezing. Eleven unvaccinated children contracted the disease and an infant too young to be vaccinated was hospitalized. Public Health officials quarantined another 48 infants in order to prevent further spread and infection.

No virus is more contagious than measles. “If a measles-infected person walks into a room with 10 uninfected people,” said Dr. David Sugerman of the CDC in a recent NPR interview, “nine of them will get infected.” Moreover, anyone who goes into that room within the next two hours after the infected person has left is likely to get measles, too
Measles outbreaks like this one due to “intentionally unvaccinated” children are widespread.

From January through July 2008, CDC received reports of 131 measles cases from 15 states and the District of Columbia—the highest year-to-date number since 1996. More than 90% of those infected had not been vaccinated or their vaccination status was unknown. Many of these individuals were children whose parents chose not to have them vaccinated. Fifteen of the patients, including four infants, were hospitalized.

During the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver two different measles virus strains were brought from travelers from Asia and the city continues to try to contain a measles outbreak. Those infected were two Canadians and an American. As a result, 16 people in a large family who are unvaccinated have contracted the disease.

What blows my mind is that this family didn’t decline vaccines based upon allergies, medical reasons or religious belief but because a close family friend who was anti-vaccines convinced them not to get vaccinated!? Here was a pocket of vulnerability which gave the disease an opportunity to spread.

While it appears that measles is a forgotten disease by the young mothers I met this weekend, it infects about 23,000,000 people and kills about 500,000 people each year around the world. Measles can cause a pregnant woman to miscarry or give birth prematurely. About 1 out of 10 children with measles also get an ear infection, and up to 1 out of 20 get pneumonia. About 1 out of 1,000 get encephalitis, and 1 or 2 out of 1,000 die.

There will always be some children and adults who can never be vaccinated or cannot be vaccinated in time. Unvaccinated children also pose a threat to children with legitimate medical exemptions who cannot be immunized because of health complications. These are often our most fragile children including those battling leukemia, cancer or HIV. Even children with allergies to certain vaccine ingredients, like eggs, have to go unprotected.