20090309

Vaccines, revisited

Vaccinations
There are many ways to protect children as they grow. Car seats, covers for electrical outlets, and play yards provide some of the protection every baby deserves. But when it comes to protection against certain childhood diseases, the medical community strongly recommends vaccinations.

What is a vaccine made of?
Most vaccines contain purified fragments taken from killed bacteria or viruses. Some vaccines contain live viruses, but in a very weak form that does not cause disease.

How do vaccines work?
Vaccines 'teach' the immune system how to recognize and fight bacteria and viruses before an infection happens. By give the body a small 'sample' of the germ, it can develop resistance without actually getting the disease.

Why are vaccines given to babies?
Certain vaccine-preventable disease can infect babies within the first few months of life. Vaccinating small children help s provide them with protection when the need it.
Thanks to vaccines given to babies, many diseases that once killed millions of people in the United States have not been seen form any years. But in some parts oft he world where vaccines are not readily available, disease we no longer worry about in the United States continue to destroy the lives of children every single day.

Are vaccines safe?
No medication is 100% safe. However, all vaccines that are approved for use in the United States have been thoroughly tested for safety, and serious side effects are very rare. Meanwhile, the benefits of vaccination are tremendous. Before vaccines were developed, polio paralyzed 10,000 children, rubella caused birth defects in 20,000 newborns, and pertussis killed 8000 children yearly. But thanks to the confidence that both physicians and parents have in these vaccines, today millions of children protected from serious, life threatening diseases.

What about combination vaccines?
The measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine (MMR) is an example of 3 different vaccinations given in 1 shot, which is called a combination vaccine. Combination vaccines permit protection against more diseases earlier in life. They also decrease the total number of shots a baby needs to have.
Can vaccinations cause autism or multiple sclerosis?
Studies have demonstrated that there is currently no relationship, confirmed or demonstrated , between vaccinations and autism or multiple sclerosis.

What about thiomersal and mercury poisoning?
Thiomersal is a preservative that was originally put in many vaccines to stop the growth of bacteria. Some people are concerned that this preservative might expose very young children to relatively large amounts of mercury. However, there is no evidence that thiomersal-containing vaccines have ever caused harm to children receiving them. Nevertheless, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the medical community, and vaccine manufacturers worked together to remove thiomersal as a preservative from routine childhood vaccines.

Who approves and recommends vaccines?
After successful testing in thousands of people, a vaccine is approved (licensed) for use in the United States by the FDA. The vaccine is then recommended for use in specific age groups by the Advisory Committee on the Immunization of Practices (ACIP) and the Infectious Disease Committee of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

What side effects might my child experience?
The most typical side effects include a slight fever, drowsiness, and soreness at the injection site. Although extremely rare, vaccines have been known to cause serious side effects.
For example if your child develops high fever or appears to be in severe pain, seek medical attention immediately.

Can vaccinations overload a child's immune system?
No. Vaccines only contain tiny amounts of viruses or bacteria compared with the larger amounts of germs children come in contact with every day. Therefore, a healthy child's immune system should have no problem handling vaccinations, even when several vaccinations are given during a single doctor's visit.

If all the other children in my community are vaccinated, why should my child be vaccinated?:
Even though many children are vaccinated, diseases sill exist. And the increase in international travel means that diseases are always a threat. If someone with a serious vaccine-preventable disease enters your community and your child is not vaccinated, he or she is at risk. What's more, each unvaccinated child is at risk for spreading infection to other unvaccinated children and adults, as well as to persons with weak immune systems. That's why every child should be vaccinated - for his or her own protection and your peace of mind.

Which childhood vaccinations are considered standard?
Current recommendations call for immunization against 13 vaccine-preventable diseases. Depending on the vaccine, children may receive vaccinations anywhere between birth and 18 years of age. These are the diseases:

Hepatitis B
Spreads through direct contact with infected blood and other body fluids; can also be contracted through tattooing and body piercing; a pregnant woman who is infected can also infect her unborn fetus
Symptoms include a loss of appetite, vomiting, stomach pain and swelling, weakness, yellow skin and eye Jaundice, fever, and headaches
Hepatitis B may cause permanent liver damage, cancer of the liver, cirrhosis, and death.
Approximately 25% of children who develop lifelong hepatitis B infection die of related liver disease as adults



Diphtheria
Spreads through direct contact with infected person.
Symptoms include a sore throat, fever, chills, and difficulty swallowing.
Diphtheria may cause suffocation, paralysis, heart failure, coma, and death.
Before the vaccine, diphtheria caused as many as 15,520 deaths in children during 1 year.



Tetanus (also known as lockjaw)
Spreads by contaminated soil that enters the body through cuts and puncture wounds
Tetanus is not contagious.
Symptoms include severe muscle spasms, including spasms of the mouth and jaw.
Tetanus may cause broken bones from muscle spasms, breathing problems, severe hearth damage, lung infections, coma, and death.
Without a vaccine, persons of all ages in the United States could get this deadly disease.



Pertussis (also known as whooping cough)
Pertussis is spread by coughing and sneezing and is highly contagious.
Symptoms include having thick sticky mucus in windpipe and sever coughing.
Pertussis may cause pneumonia, seizures, brain damage, and death.
Before the vaccine, between 150,000 and 260,000 cases of pertussis and up to 9000 deaths were reported each year.



Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
Hib is spread by contact with infected persons, enters through the nose and throat.
Symptoms include fever, headache, vomiting, and breathing problems..
Hib may cause meningitis, blindness, brain damage, paralysis, hearing loss, and death.
Before the vaccine, Hib meningitis killed 600 children each year and left many survivors with deafness, seizures, or mental retardations.



Polio
Polio is spread by contact with contaminated feces.
Symptoms include fever, severe muscle pain or spasm, headache, or paralysis. Some people experience no symptoms at all but are carriers who can spread the disease to others.
Polio may cause deformed or paralyzed legs and arms, inability to breathe, and death.
Before the vaccine, 13,000 to 20,000 cases of paralytic polio were reported each year in the United States; many children were left on crutches, in races, in wheelchairs, and on iron lungs.



Pneumococcus
Pneumococcus is spread by coughing and sneezing.
Symptoms included fever, chills and shaking, chest pain, coughing, fast heartbeat, fast breathing or difficulty breathing.
Pneumococcus may cause pneumonia, meningitis, sepsis, brain damage, and ear and sinus infections.



Measles
Measles is spread by coughing, sneezing, or talking.
Symptoms include a runny nose, watery eyes, fever, and rash that begins at hairline and moves downward on the body.
Measles may cause pneumonia, ear infections, brain damage, seizures, and death.
Measles is one of the most infectious diseases in the world.. If measles vaccinations were stopped, it is estimated that 2.7 million people would die worldwide.



Mumps
Mumps is spread by coughing, sneezing, or talking.
Symptoms are swollen glands and cheeks, fever, and headaches.
Mumps may cause deafness, brain damage, and swelling of the testicles and sterility in male teens and adults.
Before the vaccine, mumps was a cause of deafness and brain damage in children.



Rubella (German measles)
Rubella is spread by coughing and sneezing.
Symptoms in children are fever, swollen glands, and light rash on face.
Rubella may cause birth defects such as deafness blindness, and mental retardations. May cause miscarriage and premature birth in pregnant women.
During 1964 and 1965, before the vaccine, of the 20,000 infants born with rubella syndrome, 11,600 were deaf, 3580 were blind, and 1800 were mentally retarded.



Varicella (chickenpox)
Varicella is spread by coughing, sneezing, or contact with chickenpox sores. It usually occurs in children younger than 10 years of age.
Symptoms are itchy rash over entire body with many sores, fever, and sore throat.
Varicella may cause lung damage, brain damage, and death. It can be especially dangerous for teens and adults.
Before the vaccine, an estimated 4 million people got chickenpox, causing 11,000 hospitalization and 100 deaths each year.



Hepatitis A
Hepatitis A can occur anywhere in the world, but immunization is especially recommended for those 2 years of age and older who are traveling to Asia, Africa, South America, Central America, the Middle East, the Mediterranean basin, Souther Europe, the Caribbean, and Mexico.
Hepatitis A is spread by eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water, usually in developing countries. Because Hepatitis A thrives in unsanitary conditions involving food preparation, it can also occur in the United States.
Symptoms are loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, jaundice, fever, headaches, and dark urine.
Hepatitis A may cause low energy levels for up to a year, hospitalization, and death, especially in those already suffering from liver disease.



Influenza
Influenza is spread by coughing and sneezing.
Symptoms are high fever, chills, severe muscle aches, and headaches.
Influenza may cause pneumonia, swelling of the brain, and death.
Before the vaccine, from 1928 to 1919, there were 550,000 deaths due to influenza in the United States, 21 million died worldwide.

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