The Truth of the Matter…

flutruthLast night as I was scrolling through Facebook and saw that The Immunization Partnership’s very own President and C.E.O. had updated her status with the following message:

Yes, it’s true that the flu shot isn’t 100% effective. Thomas Dragsbæk has the flu (and you KNOW he got the shot). BUT…no one else in the family has it so community immunity worked again. Poor Thomas…but I’m very happy the rest of us are healthy, particularly since one member of our family is at high risk for severe complications from the flu. Yeah, vaccines!

Why on earth would she (or I) post that someone who had received their flu shot ended up with the flu?  Why not sweep it under the rug and just pretend that it never happened?  Because our goal is to promote the TRUTH!  So here you go; the TRUTH about the flu and the vaccine that prevents it.

  • The flu shot is safe and effective
  • The flu shot is not 100% effective but it is still the BEST way to prevent the flu
  • The flu is not just a bad cold
  • The flu can be life-threatening, particularly in young children, the elderly and those suffering from a number of medical conditions
  • A flu vaccine CANNOT give you the flu (we can argue this all day but it just doesn’t work that way)
  • Getting a flu shot is the BEST way to protect not only yourself but EVERYONE around you

So yes, the flu shot did not protect Anna’s son from the flu, but it did protect Anna and the rest of her family.  As Anna said “community immunity worked again.”  Instead of an entire family being sick only one person is dealing with the symptoms associated with the seasonal flu.  Again, the flu shot is not perfect, but it did do its job.  It protected a family.

It is also worth noting that Anna’s family has a very important reason to make sure they are vaccinated against the flu.  Anna’s father is currently living in a rehab facility here in Houston while recovering from a serious illness.  (And on a side note I have Anna’s permission to share this information!) The very last thing he needs is to be surrounded by people who are not taking every measure to protect themselves, and ultimately him, from the flu this season.  The consequences of the flu could be devastating for him.  Anna even took the extra steps to help protect her father by making sure that the facility he is at requires that patients and staff stay up-to-date on their vaccinations.  Now that’s what I call leading by example!

In summary…there are no cover-ups or conspiracies here.  Pharmaceutical companies and doctors are not just trying to make money off of you.  They are trying to keep you healthy and potentially save your life.  This flu season let’s spread the TRUTH not the flu!

And Thomas…get well soon!!

A Doctor With A Mother’s Hat

TIP-Logo-for-docswebversionUnless you’ve been living under a rock you probably have heard that flu season is here.  Everywhere you look there are helpful reminders to go out and get your flu shot to protect yourself.  As important as that is, let’s not forget about all the other vaccines we need to stay-up-to date on as well!

Head over to Texas Children’s Hospital’s pediatric health blog to read a great post by Dr. Joyee Vachani and learn why vaccination against Pertussis is important to her not only as a doctor but also has a mother.

Why I Chose To Vaccinate: A Pediatrician With A Mother’s Hat

The Next Generation

childrens-handsAs a parent I try to pass along life lessons to my children.  I know that at some point my children will choose their own paths and make their own decisions, but obviously I teach them in hopes that they will accept and one day practice what I preach.  As a first time Mom to a four-year-old, I am constantly surprised at just how perceptive and intuitive a Pre-K student can be.  Things that I thought would go straight over his head have often turned into long and even meaningful discussions.  I have quickly come to realize that children learn many important and lasting lessons far sooner in life than I would have ever imagined.

This concept is actually reason for concern when I consider the number of parents who have become part of the anti-vaccine movement.  As the number of vaccine hesitant/resistant parents increases so does the number of children being raised to fear, question, and to one day potentially reject the life-saving power of vaccines.  While I do believe that these parents believe they are doing what is best for their children, the truth is the science simply does not back their misguided views.  Study after study has dispelled myths ranging from an association between vaccines and autism, the flu shot causing the flu, to a list of other debunked misconceptions.

So what could potentially come from this up-and-coming generation of children should they choose to believe the misinformation they are being taught?  According to Dr. Paul Offit, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases and the director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the consequences are already being seen.  According to his experience we are already seeing preventable childhood deaths and community outbreaks of outdated diseases.   Dr. Offit goes on to speak a frightening truth about anti-vaccine parents saying

“They have a belief that is nonfalsifiable.  It’s a belief system.  There is no data that could ever convince them that they are incorrect.”

Basically, their minds cannot be changed.  So what can we do?  We must educate, educate, educate.  As the children of the anti-vaccine movement grow I believe it is important that we put our time and resources to good use.  I’m not an expert.  I don’t know if there is one right answer, but what I do know is that we all need to do our part to spread the message that vaccines save lives.   We need to better educate people of all ages.  We need to open people’s eyes to the devastation and loss that was once part of the world before the use of vaccines.   People need to know and understand the scientifically proven truth instead of believing the gossip and rumors that are just a click away.

It’s never too early, or too late, to teach a life lesson.  Help educate those around you about the importance of vaccination.  Your words may help to ensure the health and safety of the next generation.

A Sigh of Relief

6 months“Ahhh.”  That is the sound of me breathing a huge sigh of relief! Why?  Because on Tuesday my daughter received not only her 6 month vaccinations, but also her flu vaccine as well!  Up to this point she has been susceptible to a long list of vaccine-preventable diseases, but now I have the comfort of knowing that she has been given the vaccines needed to exist in a world of potentially life-threatening illnesses.  Let’s remember that full protection from vaccine-preventable diseases is a LIFELONG process.  Teens and adults need to stay up-to-date on vaccinations, but the 6 month mark is very important to me.  Why?  Because she has now received a complete series of vaccines to protect her from Rotavirus.  Having seen first- hand the potential consequences of being unprotected from this preventable disease I did not want history to repeat itself.  Get those vaccinations as soon as you can! I know a lot of parents dread doctor’s appointments that involve vaccinations, but the day she turned 6 months we were sitting in the office ready to be protected.

While every vaccine is just as important as the next, I was also excited for her to receive her flu shot.  I have enough going on in my life with three young children.  The last thing I need is for one of them to contract an illness that could have easily been prevented.  My husband even stopped by our local pharmacy that evening to get his vaccine which is particularly important because he is considered to be at a higher risk of flu-related complications after suffering from a heart attack 2 years ago.

You may be wondering if we were up all night dealing with a fussy baby after getting 4 shots in one day.  Nope.  A little Tylenol after the injections and a nice soft toy to chew on and she was happy as ever!  No soreness, swelling or redness.  No fever or crying (except for a few tears while she received the injections).  She was her normal happy self.  If anything my husband was a bigger baby with his sore arm than my actual baby!  Sorry Eric, but it’s true!

It’s important to take the steps necessary to protect your family.  We all buckle our children in their car seats to protect them in case of an accident.  Vaccines are simply a safety net if/when your children come in contact with a vaccine-preventable disease.  You don’t expect it to happen, but if it does the results can be catastrophic if the proper safety measures are not put into place.  Protect yourself and your children and stay up-to-date on your vaccinations!