Tag Archives: immunizations

The value of immunizations for infants can’t be overstated

Immunizations save lives. There is no denying it: Vaccines have drastically reduced infant death and disability caused by preventable diseases.

Just consider some of the milestones shared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Through immunization, we can now protect infants and children from 14 vaccine-preventable diseases before age 2.
  • In the 1950s, nearly every child developed measles and, unfortunately, some even died from this serious disease. Many physicians today have never seen a case of the measles.
  • Among children born during 1994-2013, vaccination will prevent an estimated 322 million illnesses, 21 million hospitalizations and 732,000 deaths over the course of their lifetimes. It also saves about $13.5 billion in direct costs.
  • The National Immunization Survey has consistently shown that childhood immunization rates for vaccines routinely recommended for children remain at or near record levels.

The importance of immunizations

Immunizations play a valuable role in protecting the health of not only our children, but families and communities. They not only help protect vaccinated individuals, but also help protect entire communities by preventing and reducing the spread of infectious diseases.

The success of vaccines in preventing disease can’t be overstated. Each year we pause to observe National Infant Immunization Week, which this year runs from April 22-29.  It is a time 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.  It is also a time to raise awareness about the importance of ensuring all children are fully protected from vaccine-preventable diseases through immunization.

Vaccine-preventable diseases still circulate in the United States and around the world, so continued vaccination is necessary to protect everyone from potential outbreaks. For example, measles is still common in many parts of the world, including some countries in Europe, Asia, the Pacific and Africa, and travelers with measles continue to bring the disease into the United States. It’s easy for measles to spread when it reaches communities in the United States — or anywhere else — where groups of people are unvaccinated.

The best way to protect against childhood diseases

Remember, giving babies the recommended immunizations by age 2 is the best way to protect them from serious diseases, like whooping cough and measles.  Talk to your health care provider about what vaccines are recommended for your child, and make sure you keep all immunization and well-child appointments.  For more information about how to protect your child with immunizations, visit http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/protecting-children/index.html.

Make getting vaccinations less stressful

Even though you know you are keeping her safe from diseases, it’s hard to see your child cry when she gets her shots. But you can take some steps to make the process less stressful.

The CDC suggests trying the following tips before, during and after shots:

For babies and younger children

  • Distract and comfort your child by cuddling, singing or talking softly.
  • Smile and make eye contact with your child. Let your child know that everything is OK.
  • Comfort your child with a favorite toy or book. A blanket that smells familiar will help your child feel more comfortable.
  • Hold your child firmly on your lap, whenever possible.

For older children and adolescents

  • Take deep breaths with your child to help “blow out” the pain.
  • Point out interesting things in the room to help create distractions.
  • Tell or read stories. Be sure to pack their favorite book!
  • Support your child if he or she cries. Never scold a child for not “being brave.”

Vaccines Can Protect You and Your Baby from Whooping Cough

By Teresa Foo, MD, MPH
Medical Consultant
Divisions of Immunization and Acute Disease Epidemiology

Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is a very contagious disease that can cause serious illness and death, especially in newborns and young infants who are not fully vaccinated. Whooping cough is often thought of as a disease of the past.  While we no longer see the number of cases we did in the United States before whooping cough vaccines were available, it is a growing health concern.

Whooping cough can be serious for anyone, but it is life-threatening in newborns and young babies.  Up to 20 babies die each year in the United States due to whooping cough.  About half of babies younger than 1 year old who get whooping cough need treatment in the hospital.  The younger the baby is when he gets whooping cough, the more likely he will need to be treated in a hospital. It is important to know that many babies with whooping cough don’t cough at all. Instead it can cause them to stop breathing and turn blue.

Whooping cough vaccines are the safest and most effective way to prevent this disease. The whooping cough vaccine for children (2 months through 6 years) is called DTaP.  The vaccine that provides protection for adolescents and adults is called Tdap. Both of these vaccines provide protection against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough).

There are three ways you can protect your baby from whooping cough.

First, pregnant women should get the Tdap vaccine during each pregnancy, preferably between the 27th and 36th week.  This allows the mother to give her newborn the greatest number of protective antibodies and the best possible protection against whooping cough.

Second, make sure everyone who is around your baby is up to date with their whooping cough vaccines.  When a baby’s family members and caregivers get a whooping cough vaccine, they help protect their own health while forming a protective circle of immunity around the baby.  Many babies who get whooping cough catch it from siblings, parents or other caregivers who might not even know they have the disease.

Third, make sure your baby gets his or her vaccines on time.  Your baby will need several doses of DTaP vaccine for the best protection.  The first dose is recommended at age 2 months.  Your baby will need two more doses after that, given at 4 months and 6 months, to build up high levels of protection, and then booster shots at 15 through 18 months and at 4 through 6 years to maintain that protection.

Talk to your doctor about what vaccines you or your baby need.  For more information on protecting your baby from whooping cough, go to  www.cdc.gov/pertussis/pregnant/mom/index.html

protect-babies-from-whooping-cough

 

There Are Ways to Make Your Child’s Shots Less Stressful

LaDonna White, RN, MSN
Nurse Consultant
Immunization Division

Vaccines help protect babies and young children against 14 serious diseases before their 2nd birthday. Even though you are keeping her safe from diseases, it’s hard to see your child cry when she gets her shots. But you can take some steps before, during and after a vaccine visit to ease the short-term pain and stress of getting shots.

That’s where parents come in: What you say and do before, during and after their immunization appointment can help calm a child, allay their fears and make the immunization visit less stressful on you both.

Read about the shots your child will get in advance. “CDC has a lot of useful information to help parents understand the importance of on-time vaccination,” said Dr. Candice Robinson, a pediatrician at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “You can review this information before your appointment, and then, you can ask your child’s doctor any remaining questions you have about vaccines.” The more informed you are about vaccinations, the better you may feel.

You may also want to bring your child’s vaccine record to show the doctor, and pack a favorite toy, book, blanket or other comfort item to keep your child occupied at the visit. For older children, shots can pinch or sting, but not for long. Remind them that shots help keep them healthy.

The CDC suggests trying the following tips during the vaccine visit to support your child before, during and after shots:

For babies and younger children

  • Distract and comfort your child by cuddling, singing or talking softly.
  • Smile and make eye contact with your child. Let your child know that everything is OK.
  • Comfort your child with a favorite toy or book. A blanket that smells familiar will help your child feel more comfortable.
  • Hold your child firmly on your lap, whenever possible.

For older children and adolescents

  • Take deep breaths with your child to help “blow out” the pain.
  • Point out interesting things in the room to help create distractions.
  • Tell or read stories. Remember to pack their favorite book!
  • Support your child if he or she cries. Never scold a child for not “being brave.”

For more information about how to make the immunization visit less stressful, go to cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/visit   

National Immunization Awareness Month

By Teresa Foo, MD, MPH
Medical Consultant
Divisions of Immunization and Acute Disease Epidemiology

August is National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM). Immunizations represent one of the greatest public health accomplishments of the 20th century. The purpose of NIAM is to celebrate the benefits of vaccination and highlight the importance of vaccination for people of all ages.

Vaccines prevent diseases and keep us healthy.

The need for vaccination does not end in childhood.  Vaccines are actually recommended throughout our lives. Did you know that every year, tens of thousands of adults in the United States suffer serious health problems, are hospitalized, or even die from diseases that could have been prevented by vaccination?

Here are four important things to remember not only during National Immunization Awareness Month, but throughout the year.

  • Vaccines protect against serious diseases. Immunizations not only help protect vaccinated individuals, but also help protect entire communities by preventing and reducing the spread of infectious diseases.
  • These diseases still exist and outbreaks do occur. Vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles still circulate in the United States and around the world, so continued vaccination is necessary to protect everyone from potential outbreaks. It’s easy for a disease to spread when it reaches communities where groups of people are unvaccinated.
  • Vaccines are recommended for people of all ages. Vaccines are recommended throughout our lives based on age, lifestyle, occupation, travel locations, medical conditions and previous vaccination history.
  • Babies receive vaccinations that help protect them from 14 diseases by age 2. It is very important that babies receive all doses of each vaccine, as well as receive each vaccination on time. After age 2, children are still recommended to receive a yearly flu vaccine. Children will also be due for additional doses of some vaccines between 4 and 6 years of age. Following the recommended immunization schedule is one of the most important things parents can do to protect their children’s health.
  • Vaccines are also needed for children as they grow to be preteens, teens and young adults. Childcare facilities, preschool programs, schools and colleges are prone to outbreaks of infectious diseases. When children are not vaccinated, they are at increased risk for disease and can spread disease to others in their play groups, childcare centers, classrooms and communities – including babies who are too young to be fully vaccinated and people with weakened immune systems due to cancer and other health conditions.
  • Preteens and teens need four vaccines to protect against serious diseases:
    • quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine to protect against meningitis and blood infections (septicemia);
    • HPV (human papilloma virus) vaccine to protect against cancers caused by HPV;
    • Tdap vaccine to protect against tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough (pertussis); and
    • a yearly flu vaccine to protect against seasonal flu.
  • Adults need vaccines too. Even healthy adults can become seriously ill, and can pass certain illnesses on to others. Certain vaccines are recommended based on a person’s age, occupation or health conditions.
    • All adults, including pregnant women, should get the influenza (flu) vaccine each year. Every adult should have one dose of Tdap vaccine (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis or whooping cough) if they did not get Tdap as a teen, and then get the Td (tetanus and diphtheria) booster vaccine every 10 years. In addition, pregnant women are recommended to get the Tdap vaccine each time they are pregnant, preferably at 27-36 weeks.
  • Vaccines are very safe. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Data shows that the current U.S. vaccine supply is the safest in history.” Get more information on vaccine safety at gov/vaccinesafety. The United States has a long-standing vaccine safety program that closely monitors the safety of vaccines. Scientists conduct various studies to ensure vaccine safety.

Remember, immunization isn’t just for children, it’s for all of us. Talk to your doctor or other health care provider about what vaccines you or your child need.

For more information about vaccines visit www.cdc.gov/vaccines/ or www.scdhec.gov/health/vaccinations.

 

Immunizations Prevent, Reduce the Spread of Infectious Diseases

By Teresa Foo, MD, MPH

Immunizations play a valuable role in protecting the health of our children, families, and communities.  They not only help protect vaccinated individuals, but also help protect entire communities by preventing and reducing the spread of infectious diseases.

Because of the success of vaccines in preventing disease, parents might not have heard of some of today’s vaccines or the serious diseases they prevent. These diseases can be especially serious for infants and young children.

Each year we pause to observe National Infant Immunization Week, which this year runs from April 16-23.  It is a time 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.  It is also a time to raise awareness about the importance of ensuring all children are fully protected from vaccine-preventable diseases through immunization.

There is no denying that vaccines have drastically reduced infant death and disability caused by preventable diseases. Just consider some of the milestones shared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Through immunization, we can now protect infants and children from 14 vaccine-preventable diseases before age 2.
  • In the 1950s, nearly every child developed measles and, unfortunately, some even died from this serious disease. Many physicians today have never seen a case of the measles.
  • Among children born during 1994-2013, vaccination will prevent an estimated 322 million illnesses, 21 million hospitalizations and 732,000 deaths over the course of their lifetimes. It also saves about $13.5 billion in direct costs.
  • The National Immunization Survey has consistently shown that childhood immunization rates for vaccines routinely recommended for children remain at or near record levels.

It’s easy to think of these as diseases of the past. But the truth is they still exist. Children in the United States can—and do—still get some of these diseases.

One example of the seriousness of vaccine preventable diseases is an increase in measles cases that were reported in 2014. The United States experienced a record number of measles cases, with 667 cases from 27 states reported to CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. This was the greatest number of cases in the United States since measles was considered eliminated in 2000.

That is why it is important to follow the recommended immunization schedule to protect infants and children early in life, before they are exposed to potentially life-threatening diseases.

Vaccine-preventable diseases still circulate in the United States and around the world, so continued vaccination is necessary to protect everyone from potential outbreaks. For example, measles is still common in many parts of the world, including some countries in Europe, Asia, the Pacific and Africa, and travelers with measles continue to bring the disease into the United States. It’s easy for measles to spread when it reaches communities in the United States — or anywhere else — where groups of people are unvaccinated.

Remember, giving babies the recommended immunizations by age 2 is the best way to protect them from 14 serious childhood diseases, like whooping cough and measles.  Talk to your health care provider about what vaccines are recommended for your child, and make sure you keep all immunization and well-child appointments.  For more information about how to protect your child with immunizations, go to: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/protecting-children/index.html.