The Welfare of Children – Health Care 101

Potions, lotions, self-proclaimed notions aren’t a sensible substitute for modern medicine. Polio, smallpox, measles, mumps, rubella, typhoid, tuberculosis, and other infectious diseases have been successfully prevented through routine vaccinations. Some of the previous communicable diseases have begun to spread, primarily from those who have entered the country undetected from less developed countries, and the refusal of some people to not allow their children to be vaccinated. A person not vaccinated can spread disease to others who have weakened immune systems or pregnant women.

Advice concerning important health decisions for the welfare of your children should be sought from people who have years of education, research & training, not from celebrities or most politicians.

What you should know about child vaccinations. C - sitting in a tree

The efficacy or performance of a vaccine is dependent on a number of factors:

  • the disease itself (for some diseases vaccination performs better than for others)
  • the strain of vaccine (some vaccines are specific to, or at least most effective against, particular strains of the disease)
  • whether the vaccination schedule has been properly observed.
  • idiosyncratic response to vaccination; some individuals are “non-responders” to certain vaccines, meaning that they do not generate antibodies even after being vaccinated correctly.
  • assorted factors such as ethnicity, age, or genetic predisposition.

If a vaccinated individual does develop the disease vaccinated against (breakthrough infection), the disease is likely to be less virulent than in unvaccinated victims.

Bill & Melinda Gates in 2010 pledged to donate $10 billion over the following decade, to deliver vaccines to developing countries in an effort to reduce childhood mortality.

Jenny McCarthy, in a recent Time interview, believes vaccines cause autism. She stood firm behind her claim that the MMR vaccine caused autism in her son Evan, whom she believes is now cured thanks to a string of alternative therapies.

She’s another person who lacks credentials or sufficient scientific research to support her claims.

Bill Maher tweeted this opinion on the swine flu vaccine: “If u get a swine flu shot ur an idiot.” Maher, advised pregnant women not to get it, and said it was akin to “letting someone stick a disease in your arm.”

The swine flu shot contains a dead virus, and the nasal spray a weakened version of the virus, neither of which can cause you to contract swine flu.

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr said that there is “a strong enough connection that the CDC should be looking into” the link between autism and the mercury-based ingredient thimerosal in vaccines.

According to the FDA, thimerosal has been “removed from or reduced to trace amounts” in vaccines for children 6 years or younger, except for the inactivated flu vaccine.

Thimerosal in Vaccines

Thimerosal is a mercury-based preservative that has been used for decades in the United States in multi-dose vials (vials containing more than one dose) of medicines and vaccines. There is no evidence of harm caused by the low doses of thimerosal in vaccines, except for minor reactions like redness and swelling at the injection site. However, in July 1999, the Public Health Service agencies, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and vaccine manufacturers agreed that thimerosal should be reduced or eliminated in vaccines as a precautionary measure.

Mercury is a naturally occurring element found in the earth’s crust, air, soil, and water. Two types of mercury to which people may be exposed — methylmercury and ethylmercury — are very different.

Methylmercury is the type of mercury found in certain kinds of fish. At high exposure levels methylmercury can be toxic to people. In the United States, federal guidelines keep as much methylmercury as possible out of the environment and food, but over a lifetime, everyone is exposed to some methylmercury.

Thimerosal contains ethylmercury, which is cleared from the human body more quickly than methylmercury, and is therefore less likely to cause any harm.

Thimerosal is added to vials of vaccine that contain more than one dose (multi-dose vials) to prevent growth of germs, like bacteria and fungi. Contamination by germs in a vaccine could cause severe local reactions, serious illness or death. In some vaccines, preservatives, including thimerosal, are added during the manufacturing process to prevent germ growth.

Immunization Recommendations for Disaster Response Operations

Disaster Recovery Personnel

  • Adult. Ensure personnel are current for ALL routine adult
    vaccinations based on age and health status.
  • Hepatitis A. Review records for evidence of immunization. If needed,
    begin or complete the two-dose Hepatitis A vaccine series. This series
    may be completed using the monovalent or bivalent (combination)
    vaccine. Further guidance on completing the vaccinations series is
    available at http://www.health.mil/hepA.
  • Hepatitis B. Review records for evidence of immunization. If needed,
    begin or complete the three-dose Hepatitis B vaccine series. This series
    may be completed using the monovalent or bivalent (combination)
    vaccine. Further guidance on completing vaccination series is available
    at http://www.health.mil/hepB.
  • Influenza. Vaccinate personnel with the current seasonal influenza
    vaccine if available.
  • Tetanus. In accordance with the current Centers for Disease Control &
    Prevention (CDC) guidelines, responders should receive a tetanus booster
    if they have not been vaccinated for tetanus during the past 10 years. Td
    (tetanus/diphtheria) or Tdap (tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis) can be used;
    receiving one dose of Tdap for one tetanus booster during adulthood is
    recommended to maintain protection against pertussis.
  • Consistent with CDC wound-management guidelines, anyone who develops a puncture
    wound or has a wound contaminated with dirt, feces, soil, or saliva needs
    a Td booster (or Tdap if applicable) if the most recent dose was more than
    5 years earlier.
  • Rabies. Veterinarians and people involved in animal-control efforts should assess the localized risk of rabies exposure and consider their need for pre-exposure prophylaxis. Persons who are exposed to potentially rabid
    animals should be evaluated and receive standard post-exposure
    prophylaxis, as clinically appropriate.

Travel-Related Vaccines. When responding to a disaster outside of the
United States, non-routine vaccines may be recommended based on the
CDC Health Information for International Travel (commonly called the
Yellow Book) or required by the Force Health Protection Guidance issued
by the Combatant Command Surgeon’s Office.

Keep it simple.

by Dr. John H Schumann MD

In spite of all the science and technology in medicine, what we doctors do is more about making educated guesses. Especially in primary care, it’s often a matter of playing the probabilities more than providing precise diagnostic information.

But prevention is different. We know a lot about it, based on huge bodies of epidemiological research. Most of prevention is fairly straightforward. You’ve heard the advice again and again. In fact, the repetition may make it easy to tune out.

  • Get enough sleep.
  • Move your body throughout the day.
  • Eat well — a healthy assortment of foods. Mostly plants, and not too much. (An idea popularized by author Michael Pollan.)
  • Interact socially. Isolation is not good for the body, soul or mind.
  • Take some time to reflect on what you are grateful for.

John Henning Schumann is a writer and doctor in Tulsa, Okla. He serves as president of the University of Oklahoma, Tulsa.

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Ben_young_Collie_1Children are given shots (vaccines) at a young age because this is when they are at highest risk of getting sick or dying if they get these diseases. Newborn babies are immune to some diseases because they have antibodies they get from their mothers, usually before they are born. However, this immunity lasts a few months. Most babies do not get protective antibodies against diphtheria, whooping cough, polio, tetanus, hepatitis B, or Hib from their mothers. This is why it’s important to vaccinate a child before she or he is exposed to a disease.
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