Too many too soon? Kids are tougher than you think.

While Alana is caring for her newest family member, we at The Immunization Partnership wanted to help pitch in! Please enjoy this guest post by TIP’s Community Outreach Coordinator: Robyn Correll Carlyle, MPH.

_______________________________________________________________________

My sister just had a baby. My niece – who I like to call “Lil’ bit” – is her first child, and so naturally, I try to help. I babysit, read to her, make funny faces on FaceTime, and oh, did I mention? I’m fiercely protective. Especially when it comes to vaccines.

I’ve read up on all kinds of things small babies can catch, and there was no way I was going to let Lil’ Bit get sick with something preventable. Not on my watch!

Being the geeky aunt that I am, I sent my sister a personalized vaccination schedule based on Lil’ Bit’s birthdate (you can make one, too, by going to the CDC’s website).

Image

The schedule I sent her looked a lot like this one. 

My sister is very supportive of vaccines and had planned on vaccinating prior to my bringing it up. But after taking a moment to register what she was reading, she turned to me with her eyes wide, “That’s so many shots! Can her little body really handle them all?”

Working in immunizations, we get this question a lot. So what did I tell her?

Absolutely it can! I know it seems like a lot, but you’d be surprised what even the tiniest immune system is capable of handling. From the minute babies are born, they are bombarded by thousands of viruses and bacteria, so they have to be prepared. Their bodies might be small, but they can fight off many pathogens (the germs that cause disease) at the same time. Of course, they aren’t able to fight off everything, and that’s why we need vaccination.

Compared to what kids face every day, the amount of antigen* in vaccines is actually very, very small. But that small amount is all they need. The tiny exposure to antigen through vaccination is enough to help them start to build up immunity against 14 potentially dangerous diseases.

A great explanation of how the body’s immune system can handle the recommended doses of vaccines is presented in this video by Academic Earth. Check it out:

Too Many Too Soon: The Anti-Vaccine Fallacy
AcademicEarth

___________________________________________________

Antigens jumpstart the immune system into making antibodies

The First, Best, and Only Way…

1112The last 6 weeks have been quite a ride!  Transitioning from a family of 4 to a family of 5 has been busy to say the least!  On May 4, 2013 at 6:05 a.m. our newest addition, Emma Michelle, made her grand debut into our lives and we could not be more thankful for a healthy, happy baby girl.

Within minutes of arriving in our room following delivery, our baby’s nurse joined us and began to go through a list of basic baby care information.  As third time parents we had heard most of it before, but there was one new piece of information that I had not been given after having our other two children.  She pulled out a packet of information explaining why it was important for the entire family to be vaccinated against Pertussis to protect our sweet baby girl.  I quickly let her know that not only had my husband and I received our vaccine, but that everyone in our immediate family had taken the necessary steps to provide our newborn with the protection she needed against the potentially fatal illness.

The next morning I received a packet of forms to fill out and look over.  One of those forms allowed me to enroll Emma in the Texas Immunization Registry, ImmTrac.  Giving my consent to participate in this registry allows medical professionals such as doctors, nurses, and public health providers to access my daughter’s confidential vaccination records to help ensure that she will never be under or over-vaccinated and even provide me with reminders when she is due for her next vaccine.  This registry (which you can register for at any time) is a win-win for patients and providers.

And then came the big moment.  It was time for Emma to receive her first vaccine that protects her from contracting Hepatitis B.  For many parents, watching their child receive a vaccine may not seem like a reason to celebrate, but it really is!  In conjunction with breastfeeding, this was the first, best, and only way to protect the innocent life that I held in my arms.  It gave me a sense of security to know that I was doing everything I could keep her safe and healthy.

Despite the lack of sleep, piles of laundry, and chaos that comes with raising 3 young children I am excited to see what fun lies ahead for our growing family.  I look forward to sharing more experiences with you as I continue to protect my family through the life-saving power of vaccines!

A Business Man’s Perspective

053While I am taking time off for baby, I am putting my husband to work! As I began making a list of potential guest bloggers I wanted to include someone without a medical background to give their view on immunizations. After a little persuasion and a few pre-blogging jitters on his part I am happy to introduce you to my husband, Eric Bethea! Eric graduated with a degree in finance from the Business Honors Program at Texas A&M University in 2003 and completed an MBA at Rice University in 2007. He is currently a consultant for the executive compensation consulting firm Frederick W. Cook. Please enjoy!

____________________________________________________________________________

I admittedly don’t have any level of medical background, so I was a little worried about what to write for a guest blog. What was someone with an MBA going to offer on a medical subject—-particularly recognizing the negative effects several celebrities with no medical expertise have created for this cause? With this in mind, I decided to simply give my non-medical perspective on immunizations and why I am so passionate about making sure we protect our children and communities from potentially life-threatening diseases.

As someone in his mid-30’s, I haven’t directly witnessed the effects of polio, but I have heard stories from my parents who vividly remember this disease and how it shut down pools and permanently disabled some of their friends. It’s amazing how such a debilitating disease has effectively been eradicated in the US in the relatively recent past. However, a big reason for this was my parent’s generation’s willingness to immunize their kids. In my mind, that is a very basic story that exemplifies the power of immunizations.

I also recognize how blessed we are in the US to have the technology and capabilities to immunize our children. It’s very frustrating to me to see parents in the US refuse to immunize their children for unfounded reasons while people in other countries literally wait in lines for days to get the same treatment. I’ve heard people say they don’t want to immunize their kids because they think it’s just a money grab for physicians and pharmaceutical companies, or it will in some way physically harm their little baby to get a shot, or it’s simply not necessary and their kid won’t get the disease. First of all, having not spent 10 plus years studying medicine and not dedicating my life to the science behind it, I would never consider that I know more about immunizations than the medical professionals I trust to take care of myself and my family. It is shameful that so many people have formed their opinions on immunizations based on the recommendations of a former Playboy Playmate with absolutely no qualifications to give medical advice, let alone write a book on the subject. Second of all, I personally refuse to subscribe to all the conspiracy theories that imply doctors are unethical and only interested in making money. I don’t understand why there are parents who refuse immunizations based on the ideology that doctors are trying to hurt their children in an attempt to make more money. If anything, immunizations are money losers for most medical offices. Finally, I have been to several meetings and presentations with the Immunization Partnership that have discussed many of the misconceptions surrounding immunizations. These presentations use real research and common thinking from the brightest medical minds in the world to debunk the common misconceptions about immunizations.

At the end of the day, I know I am not an expert on immunizations and I have never claimed to be. But for the same reason I would hire a lawyer for legal advice or an architect to design my home, I would consult a doctor on medical issues before I would trust my own expertise. In consulting leading medical professionals on immunizations, it’s clear to me that the benefits gained by immunizing are enormous for not only our children, but other high risk individuals as well as our communities. I highly recommend people who question the merits of immunizations to reach out to leaders in the medical industry to gain accurate insight into this important issue.

The History of Vaccines

Understanding the history of vaccines is necessary to truly appreciate the important role they play in our lives.  A special thank you to Dr. Mark A. Jacobs for taking time to help us better understand just how far we have come because of the life-saving power of vaccines.

Dr. Jacobs, a third generation obstetrician-gynecologist (Ob/GYN), received his medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine and has been board certified obstetrics-gynecology since 1983.  He is a Fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and is a staff member at the Women’s Hospital of Texas.  Dr. Jacobs currently works in a private practice in the Texas Medical Center in Houston and is a well-respected instructor of gynecological surgery for residents in both the Baylor College of Medicine and The University of Texas Medical School.  In addition, Dr. Jacobs has been a certified clinical investigator running clinical trials at TMC Life research for 7 years.

Thank you again Dr. Jacobs!

___________________________________________________________________________

Mark JacobsMore lives have been saved and misery prevented by vaccines than any other medical treatment since the beginning of history.
The first vaccine was discovered by a farmer worried about smallpox, a vast killer since antiquity. There was and still is no cure. Once inhaled, the virus causes high fever and prostration before attacking blood vessels in the skin, mucous membranes, and internal organs. Pustules erupt explosively. Death occurs in 25 – 90 % of cases. In 1774 when there were 400,000 annual European deaths from smallpox, it was observed that milkmaids exposed to cowpox remained safe. Benjamin Jesty, an English farmer, protected his wife and children by scratching their arms with needles he’d used to puncture pustules on cows. Subsequently British physician James Edward Jenner made a vaccine from cowpox. Universal use eliminated smallpox from the United States, the U.K., and Europe. But in the unvaccinated third world of the 20th century, it killed 300 to 500 million people. There too, the vaccine eradicated smallpox by 1979.
In the 19th century, Louis Pasteur developed vaccines against anthrax and rabies. In the 20th century the polio virus, killer and crippler of children, grew to epidemic proportions. It was conquered in the 1950s by the vaccines of Salk and Sabin and is now approaching eradication. In the 1920s, diphtheria infected 100,000 to 200,000 annually, mostly children, and killed 13,500 to 15,000 per year. In 1943, diphtheria killed 50,000 in Europe. Vaccination allowed the United States to see its last case in 2003. By contrast, reduced vaccination in the Russian Federation after 1991 saw diphtheria rates explode to 200,000 cases and 5,000 deaths. Tetanus vaccines have dropped the number of U.S. cases to 31 per year, contrasted with 59,000 newborn deaths per year from neonatal tetanus among nations where vaccination is absent. Pertussis vaccines saved over a half-million lives in 2002. In 1963, before rubella vaccination, rubella infected 12 million Americans, killed 11,000 of their babies in utero, and left another 20,000 congenitally infected babies with lifelong disability. Vaccination ended this problem in the United States by 2002, but continued vaccination is required to prevent its resurgence. Hepatitis B vaccination, having not yet achieved full usage, has none-the-less thus far reduced cases by 67%, mostly among those vaccinated in childhood. Prior to vaccine availability, chickenpox caused 13,000 hospital admissions and 150 deaths per year in the United States; yet in the first ten years of its vaccine, cases have been reduced by 90%, including a 97% drop in deaths. Per the American Cancer Society, the HPV vaccine has the potential to cut deaths due to cervical cancer by 2/3 worldwide, as well as eliminating anal cancer entirely from both men and women. The flu causes 3000 to 49000 U.S. deaths per year, but the CDC estimates that the flu vaccine will reduce this rate by 60%.
To date, most of the vaccine concerns reported in the media have no basis in fact. There is no link to autism. Some concerns raised by private researchers have been found to be entirely fraudulent and even resulted in serious disciplinary actions. Small numbers of Individuals with specific immune problems and illnesses are at risk for reactions, while individuals with still other serious diseases need vaccines the most. The history of vaccines and the epidemiological data speak clearly for themselves.