Tag Archives: immunization

Announcing DHEC’s CDC Childhood Immunization Champion Award Winner

DHEC is proud to announce that Dr. Eliza Varadi has been selected as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Childhood Immunization Champion for South Carolina. CDC and the CDC Foundation hold this annual awards program to honor immunization champions across the 50 U.S. states, eight U.S. Territories and Freely Associated States, and the District of Columbia during National Infant Immunization Week (April 21-28).

A champion for patients/caregiversVaradi pic

Dr. Varadi was nominated and selected from a distinguished pool of health professionals, community advocates, and other immunization leaders for making a significant contribution to public health in South Carolina through her work in childhood immunization.

Dr. Varadi is a champion for vaccines for patients and their parents/caregivers.  She educates parents about the importance of vaccines at prenatal visits and offers parents and caregivers Tdap and flu vaccine in her office to make sure they are protected. She also takes the time at sick visits to make sure children are up to date on their vaccines. Dr. Varadi is committed to dispelling misinformation about vaccines and is currently conducting a social media project where she posts reputable information about vaccines on her practice’s Facebook and Twitter pages. She has also participated in several initiatives to increase adolescent immunizations in her practice with excellent success.

Advocates who go the extra mile

Young children rely on the champions in their lives to keep them safe and healthy. Champions may be doctors and nurses who share scientifically accurate, up-to-date information about vaccines with parents. They may be advocates who go the extra mile to ensure that all children in their communities have access to vaccines. They may be public health professionals who work behind the scenes tracking immunization data, coordinating vaccine logistics, or developing public awareness campaigns. They may be parents who share their personal stories about vaccination with their communities.

When families, healthcare professionals, and public health officials work together, all children can be protected from serious and deadly vaccine-preventable diseases. Dr. Varadi is an inspiration to all of us who care about children’s health in South Carolina. We are pleased and honored to congratulate her on this well-deserved award.

We also would like to recognize the other nominees for the S.C. award, as they all are champions for childhood immunization in the Palmetto State. They are Dr. Deborah Greenhouse (Palmetto Pediatrics, Columbia, SC), Dr. Calvin James (Family Health Centers, Inc., Orangeburg, SC) and Dr. Hannah Wakefield (MUSC Department of Pediatrics, Charleston, SC).  Congratulations to all nominees!

To read Dr. Varadi’s and other award winners’ profiles, click here.

About National Infant Immunization Week

National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW) is an annual observance to highlight the importance of protecting infants from vaccine-preventable diseases and to celebrate the achievements of immunization programs in promoting healthy communities throughout the United States. Each year, during NIIW, communities across the U.S. celebrate the CDC Childhood Immunization Champions. These award recipients are being recognized for the important contributions they have made to public health through their work in childhood immunization.

DHEC in the News: Flu, opioids, child vaccine rates

Here’s a look at health and environmental news from around South Carolina.

9 Died from Flu in South Carolina Last Week Alone

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – State health officials say nine people have died from the flu in South Carolina in the past week.

The Department of Health and Environmental Control said the deaths during the second of January mean that two dozen people have died from influenza this season, which started in October.

General Interest

Walmart is giving away free opioid disposal kits

Walmart is trying to help curb America’s opioid crisis.

The retail chain said Wednesday that its pharmacies will offer a free kit that allows patients to safely throw out unused opioid prescription pills at home. The packet, called DisposeRx, dissolves pills into a biodegradable gel.

Child vaccine rates higher in South Carolina than national average even as more parents refuse

More than three-quarters of South Carolina children insured by BlueCross BlueShield received their recommended vaccines for measles, mumps, hepatitis B and other infectious diseases between 2010 and 2016, even as a growing number of parents refuse to vaccinate their children, a new national report shows.

In this state, 77.8 percent of these children were appropriately vaccinated, compared to 73.5 percent nationally.

Benefits of vaccination outweigh any potential risks

By Linda Bell, M.D.
Director, Bureau of Communicable Disease Prevention and Control
State Epidemiologist

Thanks to vaccinations, diseases such as polio and diphtheria are becoming rare in the United States. Some physicians rarely — if ever — treat a case of measles.

That’s what makes vaccination one of the most successful public health accomplishments of the 20th century. It reduces the spread of disease and prevents complications and deaths.

But that success does not mean that the diseases vaccines help prevent are no longer a threat.

Although we have seen significant reductions in – even the elimination of – certain diseases, there were nearly 7,800 reports of vaccine-preventable diseases in South Carolina in 2016.  Of 238 disease outbreak investigations the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control conducted last year, 29 percent were influenza outbreaks.

Many of those flu cases occurred in schools and nursing homes, which serve people who often have complications from the flu.  The age groups with the highest rates of hospitalizations for flu included children ages 4 and younger and individuals older than 65. Unfortunately, 94 deaths from the flu have been reported in South Carolina during the 2016-17 flu season, which ends the end of September.

We also continue to see cases of whooping cough, bacterial meningitis, hepatitis A and B and other vaccine-preventable diseases, and they will increase unless we get more people vaccinated. The number of people receiving vaccines in South Carolina and the U.S. has declined in recent years.

Still, the fact remains that vaccines protect entire populations from multiple diseases. But questions remain.

Are vaccines effective? While no vaccine offers 100 percent protection, they are extremely effective.

How well a vaccine prevents illness varies based on the type of vaccine and the individual’s health status.  For example, the flu vaccine does not protect the elderly as well as it protects younger people. However, studies suggest that elderly people vaccinated against the flu have less severe disease, are less likely to be hospitalized and are less likely to die from the flu.

While there can be adverse effects from vaccines, severe adverse events are rare and occur far less often than complications from vaccine-preventable diseases. Although questions have been raised about whether there is a relationship between autism and vaccines, research does not show any such link.

Do vaccines have risks? Yes, vaccines — like all medications — have potential risks that must be weighed against the benefits. The risks are quite low and are comparable to those associated with prescription and over-the-counter medication.  The benefits are significant in protecting the public health and in cost-savings.  Ask your health care provider about what vaccines are best for you as well as potential risks based on your health factors.

In July the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics published a study showing that a 5 percent decrease in the number of children ages 2 to 11 vaccinated against the measles in the United States could triple the number of measles cases in that group and significantly increase the cost of controlling disease outbreaks. Of great concern is that the article reveals that several regions in the country are just above the level of vaccine coverage needed to prevent measles outbreaks.  If vaccination levels drop further, we could see a sharp rise in measles cases, one of the most highly contagious diseases known.

We continue to see preventable illness, hospitalizations and, unfortunately, deaths in South Carolina from influenza, whooping cough, meningitis, hepatitis B, and other vaccine-preventable diseases.  Every year U.S. travelers are infected after being exposed to diseases while abroad. Infected people can begin spreading a disease before they show symptoms. Numerous outbreaks have occurred in communities with low vaccination rates.

DHEC is working to increase vaccine coverage in South Carolina by enhancing partnerships with other vaccine providers, offering vaccines in schools and communities, improving technology that tracks vaccinations and simplifies access to immunization certificates, and — most importantly — educating people about the risk of diseases that can be prevented with vaccines.

While vaccines help prevent the spread of disease, their effectiveness relies on people being vaccinated. That’s where you can help. It is important that everyone – not just children – get immunized.

We have had great success combating diseases through vaccination. Let’s not lose ground now.