I’ve told you in the past that when parents choose to not vaccinate their children, not only are their children at risk, but so are other children in the community. Here’s more proof of that. Continue reading
The whooping cough vaccine has been a rite of childhood for decades, but rising rates of the disease have health officials urging pregnant women and all adults who will be caring for the baby to step up to the needle as well. Continue reading
The print media devoted major coverage to the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) report showing that the benefits of vaccines far exceed their risks. In addition, the IOM assures professionals, researchers, policy makers, and, most importantly, parents, that vaccines are NOT associated with and DO NOT cause autism or autism spectrum disorders ASD). Continue reading
The group that advises the U.S. government on vaccination thinks some new vaccines may NOT be worth the cost. Continue reading
Research has shown that children who are exempted from vaccinations have a 35-fold higher risk for measles, a 23-fold higher risk for pertussis and a nine-fold higher risk for varicella than do vaccinated children. Continue reading
The anti-vaccination movement has no better friends than in the alternative medicine world. In the Massachusetts study mentioned in my last blog, less than one-third of the homeopaths recommended immunization, and almost 10 percent actively opposed immunization. In England, the most common reason given for not having children immunized is the recommendation parents receive from a homeopath. Continue reading
The Chicago Tribune reports that “whooping cough, a highly contagious respiratory infection marked by violent coughing, has made a comeback in Chicago and in other parts of the country. Health officials are urging adolescents and adults — especially those who interact with newborns — to get a whooping cough booster shot.”
The Tribune points out that the Chicago Department of Public Health “has used federal funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to purchase 14,070 doses of Tdap vaccine and distributed them to 13 birthing hospitals to immunize postpartum women before they are discharged.”
So, if you or your adolescent child have NOT had your diptheria, whooping cough (pertussis), and tetanus immunization (dTap), even if you have had a diptheria and tetanus immunization (dT) anytime in the last ten years, now’s the time to get one.
You not only protect yourself from whooping cough (which is becoming far too common around the country), you also protect all babies under six months of age that you will be around.
Pain surrounding childhood immunizations can have long-term consequences, including preprocedural anxiety and needle fears in both the child and parent. Worse yet, these consequences can lead to avoiding immunizations altogether.
As a result, Dr. Anna Taddio, of the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto and the “Help Eliminate Pain in Kids” panel (the HELPinKIDS panel), an interdisciplinary panel of experts from Canada, have developed an evidence-based clinical practice guideline for reducing pain associated with childhood immunizations.
The panel believes that minimizing pain during childhood vaccination is important to help prevent these issues and there’s a need for clear guidance to address this “important public health issue.” So, they have published a summary of their guidelines in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ). Here are the details from Reuters Health:
The HELPinKIDS panel evaluated 71 relevant studies including 8050 children and formulated a clinical practice guideline based on the “3-P” approach to pain management, including pharmacologic, physical and psychological strategies.
The scope of the guideline was limited to acute pain and distress at the time of vaccine injection in children 0 to 18 years old and is “generalizable to healthy children receiving immunization injections worldwide,” the authors say.
Several of the strategies found to be effective in relieving distress and pain of injections and recommended in the guideline can be implemented immediately, the authors say.
- positioning the child upright when administering vaccines,
- injecting the most painful vaccine last when multiple injections are being administered,
- providing tactile stimulation, and
- performing intramuscular injections rapidly without prior aspiration.
Dr Taddio and colleagues write that “about one-third of vaccinators do not perform aspiration, and there have been no documented harms caused by omitting this step.”
Other evidence-based pain-relieving strategies contained in the guideline may require some planning or additional resources, or both, on the part of healthcare providers and children and their families. These include:
- breastfeeding or administering sugar water (for infants) and
- applying a topical anesthetic and
- psychological interventions such as distraction (for children of all ages).
The authors acknowledge in their report that “at present, the optimal pain-relieving regimen for nullifying pain, rather than simply diminishing pain, is unknown.” They say additional research is needed to determine which pain-relieving regimens reliably prevent pain in children of different ages.
New vaccine administration technologies such as microneedles and needle-free administration techniques, such as nasal sprays, hold promise for reducing pain associated with vaccination administration.
In several of my past blogs, including two earlier this week (Low immunization rates linked to epidemic spread of whooping cough and Parents who refuse vaccines put other people’s children in harm’s way), I’ve warned of the potential dangers, including death, that can occur among unvaccinated children. Now, we’re learning that children are beginning to die in California’s whooping cough (pertussis) epidemic. Unfortunately, there may be more in future days.
- (1) Be sure your children are up to date on all of their vaccines. If you’re concerned about the vaccine “scare stories” or “myths,” take a look at my blog series on “vaccine myths.”
- (2) Be sure that all adolescents and adults in your family get the Dtap (diptheria, tetanus, and acellular [purified] pertussis [whooping cough]) vaccine (even if you’ve had a dT [diptheria, tetanus] vaccine in the past ten years) — especially if someone in your sphere of influence is pregnant and you might care for the baby.
Here are more details from a MedScape report: Six infants have died in California in what looks like the state’s worst whooping cough epidemic in 50 years. To date, the CDC says South Carolina is the only other state where whooping cough cases have exceeded the “epidemic threshold” — a statistical measure that means there are significantly more cases than usual for the time of year.
After declaring an official epidemic of pertussis, the medical term for whooping cough, California health officials announced a broadened vaccination campaign for teens and adults of all ages. Anyone who comes into contact with babies is particularly urged to get the vaccine — even pregnant women and the elderly.
“Teens and adults should be vaccinated, especially anyone who is going to have contact with infants who are too young for vaccinations,” CDC epidemiologist Stacey Martin, MSc, tells WebMD. “Those California deaths were all in infants less than 3 months old. They don’t have the benefit of vaccination yet, so we have to vaccinate around them.”
Infants get three doses of the vaccine but are not fully protected until after they are 6 months old.
Neither the pertussis vaccine nor natural infection gives a person lifelong immunity to whooping cough. Outbreaks tend to occur in five-year cycles, suggesting that immunity wanes within that time.
Pertussis is one of the diseases covered by the three-way DTaP (diphtheria/tetanus/acellular pertussis) vaccine for children under age 7 years and by the three-way booster Tdap vaccine for older children, teens, and adults. There is no standalone pertussis vaccine.
Although a person needs a tetanus vaccination only once every 10 years, it’s not a problem to get the Tdap vaccine at shorter intervals. Adults who get the tetanus and Tdap shots within two years may have more redness and soreness at the place the needle went in, but no significant safety issues.
Whooping Cough: A Serious Disease
Pertussis is a bacterial infection. It’s named whooping cough for the “whooping” sound a person with the disease makes while trying to catch a breath between coughing fits.
The cough can be so severe that it causes broken blood vessels in the face, eyes, and even in the brain. But the main risk to small children is suffocation, said Dean Blumberg, MD, associate professor of pediatrics at the University of California, Davis, who has treated infants with whooping cough.
“Pertussis is a horrible disease at any age, but most severe in the youngest infants,” Blumberg said at a Monday news teleconference. “The reason is their airways are so small. When they get pertussis they cough, cough, cough, and keep coughing. The air goes out but nothing comes in, so they suffocate.”
The California vaccination effort may yet head off the epidemic. As of July 17, there were about 1,500 reported cases in the state. But time may be running out. July, August, and September tend to be peak months for whooping cough.
Vaccine Refusal Driving Whooping Cough Epidemic?
There’s indirect evidence that people who refuse to vaccinate their children may be playing a role in the whooping cough epidemic, suggested Gilberto Chavez, MD, chief of the California Department of Health’s infectious disease center.
Chavez noted that most whooping cough cases tend to occur in areas where the most parents exempt their kids from routine vaccination — a choice that California state law permits the parents of school children.
“We have noticed that to some degree [the epidemic pattern] matches counties where there is a higher percent of kids not immunized because of personal-belief exemptions [to school-required vaccination],” he said at the news conference.
For example, Marin County north of San Francisco has a relatively high rate of vaccine refusal. Marin County has the highest number of whooping cough cases, Chavez said.
That fits with a 2008 study that matched whooping cough outbreaks in Michigan with geographic pockets of families that exempted their children from school immunization requirements.
Misinformation About Vaccine Safety Puts Kids at Risk of IllnessAbout one-third of U.S. parents surveyed had delayed or refused early childhood immunizations. As I’ve told you in previous blogs, this is a decision that can potentially harm your child and his or her friends. Here’s a report from HealthFinder that confirms my beliefs:
Physicians report that children who don’t receive recommended vaccine doses by the time they’re 2 years old are at risk of developing a variety of diseases. But some anti-vaccine activists contend that the shots can cause side effects, including autism, although health officials say repeated studies have failed to uncover such a link.
For this study, researchers analyzed the results of a 2008 national survey of parents and health-care providers and found that almost one-third of U.S. parents surveyed delayed vaccines for their very young children and 12 percent simply refused to have their children immunized, possibly making them more vulnerable to illness.
Thirty-one percent of parents with children aged 24 to 35 months reported that they’d delayed vaccine doses on purpose in 2008. In fact, the percentage of parents who either delayed or refused to immunize their children grew from 22 percent in 2003 to 39 percent in 2008.
Not all the non-vaccinating parents oppose immunization; 44 percent of the parents who didn’t vaccinate their children on schedule said their child was ill. In addition, 27 percent thought too many shots were recommended; 26 percent questioned whether vaccines were effective; 25 percent were concerned about autism; and 24 percent said they feared side effects or thought vaccines weren’t entirely safe.
The study was scheduled to be presented Tuesday at the Pediatric Academic Societies’ annual meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (SOURCE: American Academy of Pediatrics, news release, May 4, 2010)
Here are some of my other popular blogs on the topic:
- Misinformation About Vaccine Safety Puts Kids at Risk of Illness
- Doctors Debate Delayed Vaccine Schedule
- Survey Shows Parents Still Worry Unnecessarily About Vaccines
- More on the Risks of Not Vaccinating Your Children
- Parents continue to have unwarranted fears and delusions about pediatric vaccines
Also, I did a popular series on VACCINE MYTHS. You can review the series starting with the first one:
Most parents believe vaccination is a good way to protect their children from potentially deadly diseases, but a study shows more than half still worry about the possibility of vaccine side effects. The study concludes: Although parents overwhelmingly share the belief that vaccines are a good way to protect their children from disease, these same parents express concerns regarding the potential adverse effects and especially seem to question the safety of newer vaccines. Although information is available to address many vaccine safety concerns, such information is not reaching many parents in an effective or convincing manner.
Here’s an article on the survey from WebMD:
The study shows 88% of parents follow the child immunization schedule recommended by their doctor, but 54% are concerned about serious vaccine side effects.
Researcher Gary L. Freed, MD, MPH of the department of pediatrics and communicable diseases at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and his colleagues say parents who are concerned about vaccine side effects are less likely to vaccinate their children. In fact, the study showed one in every eight parents has refused at least one vaccine recommended by their child’s physician.
Newer vaccines, such as varicella, meningococcal conjugate, and HPV (human papillomavirus) were more likely to be refused than older vaccines like the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella vaccine).
In the study, researchers surveyed 1,552 parents about their attitudes regarding vaccines. Overall, 90% of parents said vaccines were a good way to protect their children from disease, and 88% said they generally do what their doctors say regarding vaccination.
However, the results show that despite a lack of scientific evidence supporting a link between autism and vaccinations, more than one in five parents continue to believe that some vaccines cause autism in healthy children.
Women were more likely than men to believe some vaccines cause autism, to be concerned about vaccine side effects, and to have ever refused a vaccine recommended for their children by a doctor.
The study also showed that Hispanic parents were more likely than white or African-American parents to say they followed their doctor’s recommended immunization schedule and less likely to have ever refused a vaccine. But Hispanic parents were also more likely to believe in a link between autism and vaccinations and be concerned about vaccine side effects.
“Although information is available to address many vaccine safety concerns, such information is not reaching parents in an effective or convincing manner,” write the researchers. “Continued high childhood immunization rates will be at risk if current safety concerns are not addressed effectively and increase in the future, resulting in more parents refusing vaccines.”
You can read more about vaccine myths in my book God’s Design for the Highly Healthy Child.
Here are other blogs in this series you might find useful:
- Radio Listeners ‘Angry as Hornets’ About Dr. Walt’s Comments on Childhood Vaccination
- Doctors Debate Delayed Vaccine Schedule
- More on the Risks of Not Vaccinating Your Children
- Vaccine Myth #1: Vaccines Cause Autism
- Special court rules against families who claim vaccines caused autism
- Vaccine Myth #2: Vaccines Don’t Work
- Vaccine Myth #3: Vaccines Aren’t Necessary
- Vaccine Myth #4: Vaccines Are Unsafe
- Vaccine Myth #5: Infants Are Too Young to Get Vaccinated
- Vaccine Myth #6: It’s Better to Be Naturally Infected Than Immunized
- Vaccine Myth #7: Vaccines Weaken the Immune System
- Vaccine Myth #8: A Preservative Contained in Many Vaccines Harms Children
- Vaccine Myth #9: Vaccine-Preventable Diseases Occur More Often in Vaccinated People Than in Unvaccinated People
- Vaccine Myth #10: Vaccines, If Administered during the First Two Years of Life, Can Cause Diabetes
- Vaccine Myth #11: The DTP Vaccine Caused Deafness in the 1994 Miss America Beauty Pageant Winner
- Vaccine Myth #12: The Polio Virus Vaccine Is Contaminated with a Virus That Causes Cancer
- Vaccine Myth #13: Vaccinations are made from aborted babies
- Doctors and Families Asked to “Just Say no to New Aborted Fetal Vaccine
When children and adults in my practice receive a vaccine, I recommend ibuprofen or acetaminophen to reduce discomfort, inflammation, or low-grade fever. Now comes a study that will change my practice. Continue reading
This is the second entry in a series from my book God’s Design for the Highly Healthy Child.
Probably the best recent example of the positive impact of vaccines is the Hib vaccine, which prevents meningitis, ear infections, and other serious infections caused by the bacterium Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib).
When the current Hib vaccine was introduced to this country in 1990, Hib was the most common cause of bacterial meningitis.
For decades, Hib had caused approximately 15,000 cases of meningitis and 400 to 500 deaths every year. After the current Hib vaccine was introduced, the incidence of Hib meningitis declined to fewer than fifty cases per year—typical of all widely used vaccines. Continue reading
Dr. Diane Harper, a friend of mine, is one of the lead researchers for the HPV vaccine (Gardasil), and now “is speaking out about its risks, benefits, and aggressive marketing.” Continue reading
In my newest book, 10 Essentials of Happy, Healthy People, I teach people how to utilize these ten essentials that are necessary to live a happy and highly healthy life. Under The Essential of Self-Care, I’ve developed a list of what I call “The 10 Commandments of Preventive Medicine.” Here’s the first of what will be a ten-part series. Continue reading
A past blog, that has been very popular, was on the topic of the Risks of Not Vaccinating Your Children (Friday, 6 February 2009). In response to that blog, Kelly wrote, “Hello, I was just wondering if you could answer a question for me. I run a day care out of my home. I was recently inquired about watching a girl who is 2 and has never been vaccinated or seen a doctor. I was wondering if this was any risk to myself or the other children in my day care? Thank you for your time.” I thought you might be interested in my response to her.
More Information: Continue reading
Here are the most popular blogs, based upon blogs that you’ve read, over the first three months of 2009. The most popular blog was “Is It a Cold or Sinus Infection? How to Tell the Difference” and the second most popular blog was “Faith-Based Health and Healing – Part 1 – What does the Bible say about health?” The latter blog is a twelve-part series. I hope you’ll look up any of these you missed the first go round.
More Information: Continue reading
It was a nightmare scenario: A scientist accidentally pricked her finger with a needle used to inject the deadly Ebola virus into lab mice. Within hours, members of a tightly bound, yet Atlantic telephone conference trying to map out a way to save her life. Less than 24 hours later, an experimental vaccine – never before tried on humans — was on its way to Germany from a lab in Canada. And within 48 hours of the March 12 accident, the at-risk scientist, a 45-year-old woman whose identity has not been revealed, was injected with the vaccine.
More Information: Continue reading
My blog, “Radio Listeners ‘Angry as Hornets’ About Dr. Walt’s Comments on Childhood Vaccination” raised howls of protest from blog constituents. Many of those who wrote comments simply do not understand how safe and effective vaccines are. They don’t seem to understand how vaccines are tested and then how throughly they are followed once licensed. If you’re interested in the truth about vaccine safety, and not the spin, read on. With this information you’ll not only share my (and virtually the entire medical world’s) about the safety of vaccines, but you’ll be able to help others who have been, unfortunately, indoctrinated (and, in some cases, brainwashed) by the fringe and fanatical antivaccine crazies.
Read More: Continue reading
From 1958 to 1962, over a half a million cases of measles are reported each year. 432 measles-related deaths occur on average each year. But in 1963, the measles vaccine was licensed. By 2000, only 81 cases of measles are reported in all of the U.S.! And, most of those in the children of parents who chose not to immunize their kids. In fact, it has just been announced that measles cases in England and Wales have risen by more than 70 percent in 2008 from the previous year, mostly because of unvaccinated children.
More Information: Continue reading
When it comes to the arguments about the safety of vaccines, what’s a worried mom to do? Between the scary claims about shots themselves and the scary news about what can happen without them, you might feel like you need a Ph.D. in immunology, toxicology, and biostatistics to make sense of it all. Never fear, Dr. Walt is here. The bottom line: No medical intervention is 100 percent risk-free, and no one but you can choose what’s right for your child. My job is to help that decision come a little easier, so here goes:
More Information: Continue reading
In 1999, a study revealed that the preservative thimerosal, a mercury-containing compound present in many vaccines, caused several infants to have levels of mercury in their blood that exceeded guidelines recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Preservatives are used in vaccines to reduce the risk of contamination by bacteria once the vial is opened. Exposure to high levels of mercury, especially in the developing child before birth, is associated with neurological disturbances. Therefore, parents began to fear that thimerosal may cause neurological difficulties, like autism. When this study was first described, physicians, scientists, and public health officials quickly assessed the situation and found that:
There’s a news story out this week about a Coast Guard officer who was told that he must take a vaccine that was derived based on tissue from an unborn child that had been aborted.
The officer refused the vaccine based upon his religious beliefs that abortion is wrong.
After a lawsuit was filed by the Alliance Defense Fund, the Coast Guard decided to allow a religious exemption.
“Members of our military should never have to choose between honoring their country and honoring their faith,” argued ADF attorneys in the case of Coast Guard officer Joseph Healy.
I agree with my friend, Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, who said, “We applaud the military for recognizing that Healy is deserving of the same freedoms that he has spent his career defending.”
But, what about parents who face this same decision when immunizing their children.
Is it true that there are vaccines derived from aborted babies?
And, if so, should parents who believe abortion is wrong refuse these vaccines?
Tuesday, in my weekly interview with Mark Elfstrand on WMBI in Chicago, a woman called to inquire about the risk of autism from vaccinations.
It reminded me of a chapter from my book, God’s Design for the Highly Healthy Child, in which I discuss a number of myths about vaccinations. This week, I’ll start a multipart series on a dozen or more of these common myths and misperceptions. Continue reading