August is National Immunization Awareness Month!
Spoiler Alert: Controversial Health Topic Approaching
Science has proven that immunizations protect us from serious diseases like measles, diphtheria, polio and rubella. The “which ones,” the “when” and the “why” have become very controversial in America in the last several years. The hot topic right now is whether or not immunizations are related to diseases or long-term negative effects (ie: autism or auto-immune diseases like type 1 diabetes). Hopefully this blog will give you information on immunizations, vaccines and helpful resources.
Because many parents are worried not only about vaccinations for themselves, but vaccinations for their infants and children, the CDC created a vaccine guide with FAQs for parents in 2012. Here are excerpts from the CDC and NIH that show immunizations are a touchy subject and not black and white for some people.
Q: Is there a link between vaccines and autism?
A: No. Scientific studies and reviews continued to show no relationship between vaccines and autism.
Some people have suggested that thimerosal (a compound that contains mercury) in vaccines given to infants and young children might be a cause of autism, and others have suggested that the MMR (measles- mumps-rubella) vaccine may be linked to autism. However, numerous scientists and researchers have studied and continue to study the MMR vaccine and thimerosal, and reach the same conclusion: that there is no link between them and autism.
Q: Can vaccines overload my baby’s immune system?
A: Vaccines do not overload the immune system. Every day, a healthy baby’s immune system successfully fights off millions of germs. Antigens are parts of germs that cause the body’s immune system to go to work.
The antigens in vaccines come from the germs themselves, but the germs are weakened or killed so they cannot cause serious illness. Even if they receive several vaccinations in one day, vaccines contain only a tiny fraction of the antigens that babies encounter every day in their environment. Vaccines provide your child with the antibodies they need to fight off the serious illnesses for which they have been vaccinated.
Q: Why do vaccines start so early?
A: The recommended schedule is designed to protect infants and children by providing immunity early in life, before they are exposed to life-threatening diseases. Children are immunized early because they are susceptible to diseases at a young age, and the consequences of these diseases can be very serious, and even life-threatening, for infants and young children.
OHW wants to know where you stand on this controversial subject. Which vaccinations do you get and which vaccinations have you allowed your children to get? Obviously the American medical institutions and professionals stand behind vaccinations and the benefits of herd immunity but we want to know where you stand. What are you concerns, worries, or experiences? Start the dialogue on our facebook page.
Here are a few other links you might find helpful if you are researching specific vaccines, when to get vaccines and safety of vaccines.
- Vaccines for International Travel: http://www.who.int/ith/en/
- Information About Vaccines Listed by Specific Diseases: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/acip-recs/index.html
- Immunization Resources for parents, kids and schools from the American Academy of Pediatrics: http://www2.aap.org/immunization/about/niam.html
- The Immunization Action Coalition (IAC) responds to concerns of vaccines: http://www.immunize.org/concerns/
Seasonal Flu Shot
The National Institute of Health and the Center for Disease Control recommend a seasonal flu shot every year for everyone age 6 months or older.
Here is information on the 2013-2014 flu shot season: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/index.htm
Here is information on who should get the seasonal flu shot and who shouldn’t http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/whoshouldvax.htm
Here is great information on healthy habits to prevent the flu http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/habits/index.htm
Many people choose not to get a seasonal flu shot. Here are a couple reasons why:
- They do not think preventing the flu is worth the potential risks of a flu shot or vaccination.
- They have never gotten a flu shot and have never gotten the flu.
- They don’t think they need one because they are healthy and have a strong immune system to fight off the flu if they get it.
- They think the seasonal flu is harmless if they do get it.
I think WebMD actually did a good job addressing 13 common misconceptions of the flu, influenza and seasonal stomach bugs.