Kathy Buckworth and Dr. Marla Shapiro discuss immunization and child health.
Kathy Buckworth and Dr. Marla Shapiro discuss immunization and child health.
The Immunization Partnership
The Rand Corporation updated a 2011 Institute of Medicine consensus report on vaccine safety (National Academies Press 2011). To do so, they performed a systematic review of evidence published from 2010 to August 2013. Of 20,478 possible articles, 67 met inclusion criteria. The combined data revealed the following:
Concerning adverse events associated with vaccines:
Equally important: What is not associated with vaccines:
This study should reassure everyone that vaccines are safe, that adverse events are rare, and in most cases will resolve completely. Transparency about adverse events may provide reassurance of the benefit of immunizations. If these data do not reassure parents, at least clinicians can speak with confidence of the safety and importance of vaccines for the health of children.
NEJM Journal Watch & Pediatrics
Preparing for school is the perfect time to make sure children are up to date on their vaccines. Getting all of the recommended vaccines is one of the most important things parents can do to protect their children’s health.
When children are not vaccinated, they are at increased risk for disease and can spread disease to others in their classroom and community – including babies who are too young to be fully vaccinated, and people with weakened immune systems due to cancer and other health conditions. Schools are highly susceptible to outbreaks of infectious diseases because students can easily transmit illnesses to one another as a result of poor hand washing, uncovered coughs and dense populations.
Immunization Action Coalition
Influenza poses unique risks to pregnant women, who are particularly susceptible to morbidity and mortality. Historically, pregnant women have been overrepresented among patients with severe illness and complications from influenza, and have been more likely to require hospitalization and intensive care unit admission.
An increased risk of adverse outcomes is also present for fetuses/neonates born to women affected by influenza during pregnancy. These risks to mothers and babies have been observed during both nonpandemic and pandemic influenza seasons.
During the H1N1 influenza pandemic of 2009-2010, pregnant women were more likely to be hospitalized or admitted to intensive care units, and were at higher risk of death compared to nonpregnant adults.
Vaccination remains the most effective intervention to prevent severe illness, and antiviral medications are an important adjunct to ameliorate disease when it occurs. Unfortunately, despite national guidelines recommending universal vaccination for women who are pregnant during influenza season, actual vaccination rates do not achieve desired targets among pregnant women.
Pregnant women are also sometimes reluctant to use antiviral medications during pregnancy. Some of the barriers to use of vaccines and medications during pregnancy are a lack of knowledge of recommendations and of safety data. By improving knowledge and understanding of influenza and vaccination recommendations, vaccine acceptance rates among pregnant women can be improved.
Currently, the appropriate use of vaccination and antiviral medications is the best line of defense against influenza and its sequelae among pregnant women, and strategies to increase acceptance are crucial. This article will review the importance of influenza in pregnancy, and discuss vaccination and antiviral medications for pregnant women.
International Journal of Women’s Health
Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease that results from infection with the hepatitis A virus. It can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious illness lasting several months. Hepatitis A cases have decreased by more than 90% over the past 20 years, but there are still approximately 20,000 new cases of hepatitis A each year. Fortunately, vaccination can help prevent this disease.
Every Child by Two (ECBT)
A new study finds a high-dose flu vaccine provides better protection among people 65 and older than a standard flu shot. Dr. Susan Rehm of Cleveland Clinic, did not take part in the study, but discusses the findings.
Before we dive into this week’s myth, can we take a moment to recognize something? The human immune system. It’s pretty amazing.
From the very moment you enter this world, your immune system is tasked with protecting you from, well, the world! There are countless pathogens (disease-causing agents) in your environment, microbes that you encounter everyday. And for an infant, all of those microbes are brand new.
Just think of all the wonderful things in this world that a newborn has never been exposed to before: sunshine, daisies, the scent of the ocean, cronuts, season two of House of Cards, parents, grandparents, siblings, the list goes on. Many of those can be conduits for germs that cause colds, diarrhea, or whooping cough– even if they are well-intentioned conduits.
This brings us to today’s myth: claims that the current pediatric vaccine schedule is too much for a baby’s delicate immune system.
However, the truth is that babies encounter tons of microbes everyday and their immune systems are up to the challenge, capable of churning out massive numbers of antibodies to prevent those viruses and bacteria from causing illness.
The part of a pathogen that the immune system must learn to recognize and fight, by vaccination or natural infection, is called an antigen. The immune system forms antibodies that match a specific antigen– think of puzzle pieces fitting together. A baby probably encounters somewhere around 2,000-6,000 antigens in a single day, just by going about their normal, adorable, baby business: playing with toys or siblings, putting anything and everything into their mouths, even just breathing in the air around us. Yet, if you add up the entire vaccine schedule from birth through age 15 months, it contains just 150 antigens.
This is entirely thanks to advances in science in recent decades. Vaccine manufacturers can use fewer and smaller proteins or even genetic material to induce the same immune response that previously required more antigen exposure. Vaccines are safer today than they have ever been.
All this makes the idea of “too many, too soon” a truly dangerous myth.
New parents might be surprised when they see the current vaccine schedule, which includes 10 vaccines against 14 diseases spread across 24-25 doses. In the mid- to late- 1980s, (when many of today’s first time parents were born) the vaccine schedule only included 5 vaccines with protection against 9 diseases. This leads some parents to think of the additional vaccines as “new” and question whether their addition to the schedule is too much for a baby.
But we know an infant’s immune system is no shrinking violet. No, your little one’s immune system is a powerhouse, ready to respond to environmental antigens and vaccinations.
Lately, some parents have turned to an alternative schedule that spaces out or delays certain vaccines. There’s really no scientific evidence behind any alternative schedule (as opposed to the rigorous testing and evaluation of the pediatric schedule recommended by the CDC). Separating combination vaccines (like the MMR vaccine against measles, mumps and rubella) into individual vaccines similarly has no proven benefit, and ultimately just means more shots. Alternative schedules leave children unprotected from disease for longer without any benefit to the child.
If you’re no longer a newborn, you already know that the world isn’t only sunshine, daisies, and cronuts– but fortunately, there are safe, effective vaccines that, combined with your child’s amazing immune system, protect him or her against some of the nastiest and most dangerous diseases out there.
The Disease Daily (www.healthmap.org/site/diseasedaily