Posts belonging to Category vaccination



More Families are Seeking out Family Practitioners

More and more families are choosing to have a family practitioner as their family health care provider.

familyWho are family practitioners? They are doctors who, following medical school, complete a three-year residency where they are trained to care for  patient populations that range from infants to the elderly in a variety of different medical areas. For instance, family practitioners are trained in bone and joint care; ear, nose and throat care; chronic conditions; emergency care and minor surgeries; behavioral and mental health; and eye care.

One of the primary responsibilities of family practitioners is to maintain their patients’ overall health. They often see their patients over the course of many years, unlike emergency doctors or surgeons who treat individuals for short periods of time. Because of this, general practitioners can build a lasting relationship with their patients and have a better understanding of their medical needs.

According to familydoctor.org, primary care physicians lower health care costs and death rates among their patients who regularly see them for preventive care and illnesses. Family practitioners, for example, can provide their patients with personal treatment plans and determine disease risk factors according to their medical histories. Also, for many individuals, family doctors are the first point of contact when they are ill. So family doctors can assess and treat most illness like respiratory infections, accidents like broken bones or diseases like asthma.

Family practitioners’ work environment can vary according to their geographic location and the size of the office. For example, family practice doctors can work in small and large cities or practice in rural areas. If they practice in the latter location, they might be the only family practitioner to treat all of the residents in a particular area. Also, family doctors can own their own practices, work at a large practice, in clinics or for government agencies.

Although family practitioners are trained to treat a broad range of medical problems, there are situations and conditions that they will not be able to treat. In these instances, it is the responsibility of the family practitioner to refer the patient to a specialist who can address the specific problem or condition.

 

Pertussis is on the Rise in the U.S.

pertussisPertussis (Whooping Cough) is a serious and highly contagious disease. It is on the rise again in the U.S. The following message,about Pertussis, is from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Pertussis Vaccine Protection

There is high pertussis vaccine coverage for children nationwide. However, protection from the childhood vaccine decreases over time. Preteens, teens and adults need to be re-vaccinated, even if they were completely vaccinated as children.

Also, pertussis vaccines are very effective but not 100% effective [PDF - 140KB]. If pertussis is circulating in the community, there is still a chance that a fully vaccinated person can catch this very contagious disease. When you or your child develops a cold that includes a prolonged or severe cough, it may be pertussis. The best way to know is to contact your doctor.

Pertussis Symptoms

Pertussis can cause serious illness in infants, children and adults. The disease starts like the common cold, with runny nose or congestion, sneezing, and maybe mild cough or fever. But after 1–2 weeks, severe coughing can begin.

Unlike the common cold, pertussis can become a series of coughing fits that continues for weeks. Pertussis can cause violent and rapid coughing, over and over, until the air is gone from the lungs and you are forced to inhale with a loud “whooping” sound. In infants, the cough can be minimal or not even there.

Pregnant? Protect Yourself & Your Baby from Pertussis

When the source of whooping cough was identified, mothers were responsible for 30-40% of infant infections.

If you have not been previously vaccinated with Tdap (the whooping cough booster shot), talk with your doctor about getting one dose of Tdap, preferably during the third trimester or late second trimester. Learn more about vaccine protection for pertussis.

Infants may have a symptom known as “apnea.” Apnea is a pause in the child’s breathing pattern. If your baby is having trouble breathing, take him to a hospital or doctor right away.

Disease Complications

Pertussis is most severe for babies; more than half of infants younger than 1 year of age who get the disease must be hospitalized. About 1 in 4 infants with pertussis get pneumonia (lung infection), and about two thirds will have slowed or stopped breathing. Pertussis can be deadly for 1 or 2 infants per 100 who are hospitalized. Learn how pertussis can be treated.

How Pertussis Spreads

People with pertussis usually spread the disease by coughing or sneezing while in close contact with others, who then breathe in the pertussis bacteria. Many infants who get pertussis are infected by parents, older siblings, or other caregivers who might not even know they have the disease.

Pertussis Trends

Reported cases of pertussis vary from year to year and tend to peak every 3-5 years. In 2010, 27,550 cases of pertussis were reported in the U.S.—and many more cases go unreported. Twenty-seven deaths were reported – 25 of these deaths were in children younger than 1 year old.

Preventing Pertussis

The best way to prevent pertussis is to get vaccinated. Parents can also help protect infants by keeping them away as much as possible from anyone who has cold symptoms or is coughing.

Vaccine Recommendations

For Infants and Children: In the US, the recommended pertussis vaccine for children is called DTaP. This is a safe and effective combination vaccine that protects children against three diseases: diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis.

For maximum protection against pertussis, children need five DTaP shots. The first three shots are given at 2, 4, and 6 months of age. The fourth shot is given at 15 through 18 months of age, and a fifth shot is given when a child enters school, at 4 through 6 years of age. If a 7-10 year old is not up-to-date with DTaP vaccines, a dose of Tdap should be given before the 11-12 year old check up.

For Preteens and Teens: Vaccine protection for pertussis, tetanus, and diphtheria can decrease with time. Preteens going to the doctor for their regular check-up at age 11 or 12 years should get a booster vaccine, called Tdap. Teens and young adults who didn’t get a booster of Tdap as a preteen should get one dose when they visit their health care provider.

For Pregnant Women: Pregnant women who have not been previously vaccinated with Tdap should get one dose of Tdap during the third trimester or late second trimester – or immediately postpartum, before leaving the hospital or birthing center. By getting Tdap during pregnancy, maternal pertussis antibodies transfer to the newborn, likely providing protection against pertussis in early life, before the baby starts getting DTaP vaccines. Tdap will also protect the mother at time of delivery, making her less likely to transmit pertussis to her infant.

For Adults: Adults 19 years of age and older who didn’t get Tdap as a preteen or teen should get one dose of Tdap. Getting vaccinated with Tdap at least two weeks before coming into close contact with an infant is especially important for families with and caregivers of new infants.

The easiest thing for adults to do is to get Tdap instead of their next regular tetanus booster—the Td shot that is recommended for adults every 10 years. The dose of Tdap can be given earlier than the 10-year mark, so it’s a good idea for adults to talk to a health care provider about what’s best for their specific situation.

Allergy Triggers, What You Need to Know

allergyThe American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology,ACAAI, reported, in a July press release, that common allergy triggers in classrooms and playgrounds spur 14 million school absences a year in U.S.

“Children with allergies and asthma should be able to feel good, be active and not miss any classes or activities this school year due to their condition,” allergist Dr. James Sublett, chair of the ACAAI Public Relations Committee, said in a college news release. “Helping  children understand what triggers their allergy symptoms can keep them focused on their studies and not their allergies.”

The ACAAI advises that there are ways children can stay away from allergy triggers so they can feel their best, including:

  • Avoid chalk dust. Children with asthma or allergies should wash their hands after handling chalk and not sit too close to the chalkboard.
  • Steer clear of bees and wasps. Children should not disturb bees or other insects when they are outside. They should also avoid wearing brightly colored clothing on the playground. Parents of children with insect allergies should consider talking to an allergist about venom immunotherapy, which can be 97 percent effective in preventing future reactions to insect bites.
  • Pack lunch. Children with food allergies should bring their lunch to school and avoid sharing food, napkins or utensils with their friends. Teachers, coaches and the school nurse should also be informed about students’ food allergies. In extreme cases, food allergies can cause anaphylaxis, a life-threatening reaction. Parents could also suggest that school adopt an allergen-free snack policy.
  • Be aware of breathing troubles after physical activity. Children who experience trouble breathing during or after gym class, recess or other physical activities at school could have exercise-induced broncho-constriction or asthma. These children need to be seen by an allergist who can diagnose and treat their conditions.
  • Don’t cuddle classroom pets. Children with allergies should avoid pets with fur and not be seated next to children who have furry pets at home. Parents can also request that teachers choose a hairless classroom pet, such as a fish or a frog.

Experts recommended that parents of children with allergy symptoms or asthma make an appointment with a board-certified allergist to develop a treatment plan.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about students’ health in school.

(SOURCE: American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, news release, July 19, 2012)

More About Vaccination Safety for Children

childrenDespite government and personal physician reassurances on vaccination safety there are parents still parents who are reluctant to get their children vaccinated.

Here are some frequently asked parent questions about vaccination safety and the answers from the NYC Dept of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Why should I get my children immunized? I thought no one gets these diseases anymore.

• Many childhood diseases are no longer common because of vaccines. But the germs that cause most of these diseases are still around. Between 2008 and 2011, about 700 New Yorkers each year got sick from vaccine-preventable diseases.
• When vaccination rates are low, these diseases can come back and spread quickly.
• In Europe, a measles outbreak spread through 30 countries in 2011, with more than 26,000 people infected. The outbreak was mainly due to low immunization rates.
• In 2011, almost 225 people contracted measles in the U.S., with 25 in New York City alone, mostly children and adults who had not been vaccinated.

Is it okay for my children to get so many vaccines at once?

• Yes. Children are exposed to thousands of germs every day. The killed or weakened germs in vaccines are very few compared to the millions of germs children fight off each day.

• Talk to your child’s doctor about combination vaccines, which protect against more than one disease with a single shot. They can reduce the number of shots and office visits your child will need.

I’ve heard it’s safer to skip some vaccines or wait to get my children vaccinated. Is this true?

No. If you skip some vaccines or wait to get your child vaccinated, you put your child at risk. Your child could get very sick or even die from a serious disease that could have been prevented.
• Children should get the recommended vaccinations at the right age and on time.

For More Information About Vaccinations for Children: American Academy of Pediatrics: aap.org,Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia: vaccines.chop.edu, Parents of Kids with Infectious Diseases: pkids.org, Immunization Action Coalition: immunize.org, Every Child By Two: ecbt.org