An Ocean Away

When I first started writing for this blog I said that I would be using it as an opportunity to continue to further educate myself (and hopefully others) about vaccines and vaccine-preventable diseases.  Well guess what…I just learned something new!   When I reference the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) for information about immunizations I have always assumed that they were considered the general standard for all things vaccine related. I thought all industrial nations likely were on the same page regarding vaccines.  Apparently I was wrong.  I recently saw the following status on a friend’s Facebook page:

“We had our first doctor’s appointment in the US today and my kids were such troopers! We are having to get on the US vaccination schedule so that meant two shots today and two in another couple of weeks. No chickenpox for us!! Woohoo!”

My friend was not living in some far off desolate land.  She has been living in England!   Other than being thrilled to know that she was getting her kids caught up on all their CDC recommended vaccines, I was also really surprised to hear that there was a different vaccine schedule just an ocean away.  Why was she so excited about the existence and availability of the varicella (chicken pox) vaccine?  Her next comment says it all:

“I didn’t realize we could vaccinate against Chicken Pox. For me, the virus was terrible and resulted in needing a cornea transplant and I’ve already had shingles so this was really exciting that my kids wouldn’t have to even deal with it.”

Wow.  What a story!  But I’m going to make you wait to hear about it straight from her in a future post!

Atlantic oceanI think it’s important to recognize U.S. vaccine recommendations are not the same as those in other countries.  Why is the U.K. behind in requiring the chicken pox vaccine?  The primary reasons are the cost of the vaccine and unfortunately the misinformation and fear still surrounding the now discredited and retracted work of Andrew Wakefield.  As of now, the chicken pox vaccine is only available privately in U.K.  I share this information with you to give you yet another reason to make sure that everyone in your family is up-to-date on all recommended vaccines.  While vaccination against chicken pox is common practice in the U.S., the same cannot be said of all countries.  With increasing rates of parents opting to delay or skip immunizations domestically combined with the ease and frequency of international travel (whether it be for business or pleasure), you should do everything in your power to protect yourself and your loved ones from vaccine-preventable disease.  As always, make sure you know your vaccine status because you never know what is lurking a plane ride away!


A Fish Tale

4th birthdayI can’t believe that we will be celebrating my son’s fourth birthday this weekend!  Where has the time gone???  Keeping that in mind, I want to share a recent story about my sweet little guy with you all!  This post is a little bit more personal than informational, but the message of vaccines is clear and present at the end!

I spend the majority of my days talking to an almost 4 year-old and a 19 month-old and I often wonder how much of what I say actually sinks in.  I notice more often than not that my instructions and motherly pearls of wisdom seem to go in one ear and out the other…that is if they are not ignored completely.  Then, once in a blue moon, a ray of light!  Something I say actually sinks in!  This past fall we took our kids to the neighborhood Halloween carnival.  As soon as we got there my son immediately found the one activity we were hoping to avoid.  That’s right, the dreaded opportunity to win a goldfish.  I tried my hardest to point out all the candy and prizes surrounding us but I had lost the war long before the battle had even begun.  The next thing I knew I was standing in the cold holding a plastic bag filled with water and a fish he so lovingly named “Pumpkin.”  Long story short, Pumpkin did not survive the night, but my husband and I did not have the heart to tell our son.  So we did what any parent would do; we snuck out early the next day and bought him “Pumpkin #2” (who magically morphed from a goldfish into a red Beta).  He was just happy to see his fish008 swimming happily on the island in the kitchen.  A few weeks later I went to feed our new pet only to find him floating on top of the tank.   When my son saw his scaly friend his eyes began to fill with tears and he asked me what was wrong.  I couldn’t tell him the truth.  Instead I opted for a very ridiculous story about fish being sick and telling him that we would take him to the doctor first thing in the morning (obviously intending on buying yet another fish).  With a big smile on his face my son looked up to me and said “Mommy, we need to get him shots next time so he won’t get sick again!”  What was that?  Has all the talk about the importance of vaccinations with our friends, family, and yes, even our children actually sunk into the mind of my child?  I was beyond proud to know that I had passed this message along to him.  Sure, it’s a very elementary level of understanding, but you have to start somewhere, right?

So what’s the point of this little story?  Talk to your kids about vaccines.  Even if you think your kids are too young to understand, they might surprise you with a few wise words of their own.  Moments like these inspire me and make me realize that my words can make a difference.  I love the innocence behind my son’s comment and I look forward to having more conversations with him in the future about the live-saving power of vaccines! Happy 4th Birthday to my favorite little man in the world and thank you for inspiring me every day!  Love you buddy!