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!
I 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!