Immunizations are a proven way of preventing the most common, serious communicable diseases of childhood. In accordance with the guidelines established through the American Academy of Pediatrics and the United States Public Health Service, we feel every child should receive these important vaccines.
Vaccines save lives. They have become even more important recently as we are seeing a resurgence of vaccine preventable illnesses due to decreased vaccination rates. We believe in the safety and efficacy of the vaccines that we provide for your child, but we understand your concern in regards to what you are choosing to put into your child’s body. Below is a list of the specific vaccines that we give in our practice.
Diphtheria, tetanus (lockjaw), and pertussis (whooping cough) are acute infections primarily of children, but they can also occur in adults.
Diphtheria is an infection of the nose and throat which is spread from person-to-person. It is a serious illness with a 10% mortality rate. Only immunization prevents diphtheria.
Pertussis attacks the lower airway and produces the “whooping” cough of childhood. It is primarily a disease of children, and more than half of these children require hospitalization. For every 1,000 reported pertussis cases, 40 develop convulsions and four develop encephalitis.
Tetanus is a disease caused by a toxin from bacteria which grow at the site of injuries. Though medicine is helpful in treating this disease, a 50% mortality rate still exists. Only immunization prevents tetanus.
The combination vaccine called DTaP protects against all three diseases. Several doses are necessary to build up full immunity. A primary series of immunizations is given in infancy followed by boosters at four years of age. Thereafter, booster doses for diphtheria and tetanus are given every ten years.
With the DTaP vaccine, most children will have a slight fever and become irritable within the first 48 hours after getting the shot. One half develop some soreness and swelling at the injection site. More serious side effects may occur such as high-pitched persistent crying for more than three hours, excessive sleepiness or difficulty arousing the infant, limpness, paleness, temperature greater than 105 degrees or convulsions. Encephalitis occurs rarely, once in every 310,000 shots.
Immunizations remain the only way to prevent pertussis, diphtheria and tetanus. The benefits far outweigh the risks.
H. influenzae type b is a leading cause of serious widespread bacterial disease in the United States. It is a common cause of bacterial meningitis, primarily among children under five years of age. In addition, it causes infection of the blood stream, skin, joints, bone, heart, and life threatening throat infections. In the United States approximately one of every 1000 children under five years of age develops Hib disease each year.
Approximately 25 to 40% of Hib disease occurs among children 18 months of age or older, and 25% occurs above 24 months of age. It is recommended that children be vaccinated against Hib disease beginning at 2 months of age. The side effects from Hib vaccine are an occasional low grade fever and/or swelling at the injection site, usually within the first 24 hours. The benefit of being protected against Hib far outweighs the risk of the vaccine.
Hepatitis B virus is one of several causes of liver infections. Chronic hepatitis afflicts over one million Americans, and thousands die each year of complications. It is now recommended that all infants and adolescents be immunized with Hepatitis B vaccine.
The vaccine is given as a series of three injections, which can be given along with other immunizations. A booster may be required later in life. HBV is safe and effective. The most common side effects are tenderness and swelling at the injection site, and a few mild flu-like symptoms. No serious reactions have been reported.
We strongly recommend your taking advantage of the opportunity to protect your child from Hepatitis B.
Genital human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted virus in the United States. More than half of sexually active men and women are infected with HPV at some time in their lives.
About 20 million Americans are currently infected, and about 6 million more get infected each year. HPV is usually spread through sexual contact.
Most HPV infections don’t cause any symptoms, and go away on their own. But HPV can cause cervical cancer in women and anal cancer in men. Cervical cancer is the 2nd leading cause of cancer deaths among women around the world. In the United States, about 10,000 women get cervical cancer every year and about 4,000 are expected to die from it.
Gardasil 9, the newest HPV vaccine, safely and effectively protects boys and girls from 90% of cancers caused by HPV. This vaccine will prevent cervical, vulvar, anal and vaginal cancers as well as two thirds of oral cancers.
There is no cure for HPV infection, but some of the problems it causes can be treated.
Measles is the most serious of the common childhood diseases. Complications such as deafness, blindness, convulsions, and brain damage have occurred in approximately one in a thousand cases. Prior to the availability of the measles vaccine, there were 400 deaths annually in the United States. Measles vaccine is highly effective and is given at 12-15 months, with a booster at five years. It is usually given in combination with the vaccines for mumps and rubella (German Measles).
Approximately 5% of children develop a mild rash or have a fever 7-12 days after receiving the vaccine. Should your child develop a very high or persistent fever, or show other signs of illness, our office should be contacted. Very rarely, once in a million doses, the vaccine has caused encephalitis. The benefits of being protected against measles outweigh any risk from measles vaccine.
Meningococcal disease is a serious bacterial illness. It is a leading cause of bacterial meningitis in children 2 through 18 years old in the United States. Meningitis is an infection of the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Meningococcal disease also causes blood infections. About 1,000 – 2,600 people get meningococcal disease each year in the U.S. Even when they are treated with antibiotics, 10-15% of these people die. Of those who survive, another 11- 19% lose their arms or legs, become deaf, have problems with their nervous systems, become mentally retarded, or suffer seizures or strokes. Anyone can get meningococcal disease. But it is most common in infants less than one year of age and people with certain medical conditions, such as lack of a spleen. College freshmen who live in dormitories, and teenagers 15-19 have an increased risk of getting meningococcal disease. Meningococcal infections can be treated with drugs such as penicillin. Still, about 1 out of every ten people who get the disease dies from it, and many others are affected for life. This is why preventing the disease through use of meningococcal vaccine is important for people at highest risk.
Meningococcal disease can spread from person to person through close contact (coughing or kissing) or lengthy contact, especially among people living in the same household.
There are at least 12 types of N. meningitidis, called “serogroups.” Serogroups A, B, C, W, and Y cause most meningococcal disease.
Anyone can get meningococcal disease but certain people are at increased risk, including:
- Infants younger than one year old
- Adolescents and young adults 16 through 23 years old
- People with certain medical conditions that affect the immune system
- Microbiologists who routinely work with isolates of N. meningitidis
- People at risk because of an outbreak in their community
Even when it is treated, meningococcal disease kills 10 to 15 infected people out of 100. And of those who survive, about 10 to 20 out of every 100 will suffer disabilities such as hearing loss, brain damage, kidney damage, amputations, nervous system problems, or severe scars from skin grafts.
Serogroup B meningococcal (MenB) vaccines can help prevent meningococcal disease caused by serogroup B. Other meningococcal vaccines are recommended to help protect against serogroups A, C, W, and Y.
Mumps is a disease that causes swelling and pain of the salivary glands in the face and neck. It is one of the leading causes of deafness in children. This complication occurs once in every 300-400 cases. Occasionally, the disease in males causes inflammation of the testicles. Mumps vaccine is highly effective, and one injection produces long-lasting, possibly lifelong protection. It is recommended for children at 12-15 months with a booster at five years. It is most often given in combination with the vaccine for measles and rubella (German Measles). Mumps vaccine can occasionally cause a mild, brief fever. It is not known to produce any serious side effects. The benefit of being protected against mumps greatly outweighs any risk from the mumps vaccine.
Polio is a viral infection that often causes permanent paralysis. It is fatal in about ten percent of patients. Thousands of cases and deaths occurred annually in the United States before the polio vaccine was first widely used in the mid-1950′s. Since then, general use of polio vaccines has virtually eliminated the disease.
The polio vaccine is now given by injection and several doses are needed to build up immunity. Polio vaccine generally produces few side effects. A very rare complication (one in five to ten million doses) of the live oral vaccine was the development of paralysis. For this reason, the killed injectable vaccine is now recommended for routine immunizations. Oral polio vaccine should not be used when a person resides in a home where an individual is receiving cancer chemotherapy or is immunal suppressed.
The benefit of being protected against polio greatly outweighs any risk from the polio vaccine.
The pneumococcus bacteria is the most common cause of bacterial meningitis, pneumonia, and blood stream infections in children under five years of age. The pneumococcal vaccine, Prevnar, provides a very safe, effective means of helping to prevent these serious bacterial infections. The AAP recommends that all children under 2 years of age receive Prevnar, as they are most at risk for pneumococcal disease. It is also recommended for children two to five years of age considered at high risk, such as those with sickle cell disease, HIV, and those with a compromised immune system.
Rubella (German Measles) is a common, usually mild infection of childhood, but it can occur at any age. The pregnant woman who gets rubella may miscarry or have a child born with deformities. Reducing the risk of rubella in pregnancy is the major benefit of prevention of rubella in children.
Rubella vaccine is highly effective and one injection produces long-lasting, possibly lifelong protection. It is recommended for children at 12-15 months with a booster at five years. It is commonly given at the same time as vaccines against other diseases such as measles and mumps.
Rubella vaccine can produce a mild rash or joint pain and joint swelling in five percent of children and 10 percent of adults. The benefits of being protected against rubella and reducing spread of rubella to pregnant women greatly outweigh any risk from rubella vaccine.
Chickenpox is a common disease of childhood caused by a virus. It is very contagious. If exposed to chickenpox, your child may develop symptoms from 10 days to 3 weeks later.
Chickenpox usually starts with a mild fever for 1-2 days. This is followed by the eruption of small fluid-filled blisters of the skin. They may also occur in the scalp, mouth, eye, and genital areas. These blisters break easily and become scab covered sores which usually itch. Crops of blisters continue to erupt for 3-7 days and during this time your child may easily infect other people who have not had chickenpox. Children who have chickenpox are contagious until all blisters have crusted over.
Because chickenpox is a viral infection, there is no specific treatment available. General treatment is aimed at relieving the discomfort of itching.
In 1995, the American Academy of Pediatrics endorsed the use of Varivax and Varicella for the prevention of chickenpox. It is 98% effective and is given at 12 months of age or later.