Immunizations

Probably the biggest miracles of medicine are the vaccines that protect our children from diseases most of you may have heard of but never saw. It would be rare for a parent of an infant today to hear about a neighbor’s child dying from HIB meningitis; a teenager becoming deaf or even sterile from the Mumps; or a young child who died suddenly from epiglottis. That is the marvel of vaccines.

Because of the discredited study linking autism to the MMR vaccines, anti-vaccine groups have placed doubt in our minds as to whether we should even vaccinate our children and we are seeing small outbreaks of some of these killer diseases. This has created a ‘sky is falling’ worry in parents. Before we go into the whats and whys,  please view this short video on vaccines:

We at Kids Care strongly believe in vaccines. Here is why:

The Diseases

HIB (Haemophilus influenza Type B)

This is a group of bacteria that cause a few different diseases. It is NOT the flu, even though the name contains the word influenza. All HIB diseases cause fever. Depending on where the infection hits will determine the other symptoms:

  • Meningitis. Someone with meningitis may have a headache and a stiff neck, and might throw up. Meningitis is an infection of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord, and Hib was responsible for 50 to 65 percent of meningitis cases before the vaccine was introduced in the mid-1980s. Meningitis is a serious condition that can cause permanent brain damage and even death.
  • Pneumonia. Someone with pneumonia will have a cough and problems with breathing.
  • Epiglottitis. This is an infection and swelling of the epiglottis, and can cause life-threatening airway obstructions. This severe throat infection causes a sore throat, drooling, and serious breathing trouble. This disease is often fatal due to sudden blockage of the airway.
  • Cellulitis. Someone with this skin infection may have skin that is red and tender.
  • Arthritis. This is a joint infection. People with arthritis from Hib bacteria may notice one of their joints is red, swollen, and very sore.
  • Ear infections from Hib can cause severe ear pain, perforation of the eardrum and deafness. Often HIB ear infections can progress to meningitis.

Since the universal introduction of the HIB vaccine, infections with HIB have virtually disappeared. Unfortunately, the bacteria is still present and just waiting for a susceptible person to attack.

Pertussis

Also known as Whooping cough, this disease is making a dramatic comeback due to lower immunization rates. Young infants and older adults are most susceptible to Pertussis. It is not uncommon for newborns or infants to develop life-threatening infections due to this bacteria. Pertussis (also known as whooping cough or 100-day cough) is a highly contagious bacterial disease initially, symptoms are usually similar to those of the common cold with a runny nose, fever, and mild cough. This is then followed by weeks of severe coughing fits. Following a fit of coughing, a high-pitched whoop sound or gasp may occur as the person breathes in. The coughing may last for 10 or more weeks, hence the phrase "100-day cough" A person may cough so hard that they vomit, break ribs, or become very tired from the effort. Children less than one-year-old may have little or no cough and instead have periods where they do not breathe. The time between infection and the onset of symptoms is usually seven to ten days. Disease may occur in those who have been vaccinated, but symptoms are typically milder.

Due to several causes, including vaccine refusal, there have been several outbreaks as of late.

Pertussis Incidence Graph 1990-2014

This graph shows reported pertussis incidence (per 100,000 persons) by age group in the United States from 1990–2014. Infants aged <1 year, who are at greatest risk for serious disease and death, continue to have the highest reported rate of pertussis. School-aged children 7 to 10 years continue to contribute a significant proportion of reported pertussis cases.

Measles

Measles, also called rubeola, is a highly contagious respiratory infection that's caused by a virus. It causes a total-body skin rash and flu-like symptoms, including a fever, cough, and runny nose. Though rare in the United States, 20 million cases happen worldwide every year. There have been several outbreaks in this country over the last few years, usually from people who have traveled to know endemic areas.

Measles is highly contagious — 90% of people who haven't been vaccinated for measles will get it if they are near an infected person. Measles spreads when people breathe in or have direct contact with virus-infected fluid, such as the droplets sprayed into the air when someone with measles sneezes or coughs. A person who is exposed to the virus might not show symptoms until 8-10 days later.

Complications are more likely in children with a poor immune system (such as those with leukemia or HIV), those who are malnourished, children aged under 5 years and adults. Many malnourished children in the world die when they get measles, usually from a secondary lung infection (pneumonia). There are still the occasional reports of children in the UK who die from complications of measles. These children have usually not been immunized.

Rotavirus

Rotavirus disease is most common in infants and young children. However, older children and adults also can get sick from rotavirus. Once a person has been exposed to rotavirus, it takes about 2 days for the symptoms to appear. Children who get infected may have severe watery diarrhea, often with vomiting, fever, and abdominal pain. Vomiting and watery diarrhea can last from 3 to 8 days. Additional symptoms may include loss of appetite and dehydration (loss of body fluids), which can be especially dangerous for infants and young children. It is not uncommon to have to hospitalize young infants for IV fluids during rotavirus infections.

Mumps

Mumps is a viral infection that causes painful swelling of the parotid glands on the sides of the jaws.

The well-known hallmark of mumps is swelling and pain in the parotid glands — a child might look like a hamster with food in its cheeks. The glands usually become increasingly swollen and painful over a period of 1-3 days. The pain gets worse when the child swallows, talks, chews or drinks acidic juices (like orange juice). Mumps can lead to inflammation and swelling of the brain and other organs, although this is not common. Encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) and meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord) are both rare complications of mumps. Other complications are loss of hearing. Symptoms appear in the first week after the parotid glands begin to swell and may include: high fever, stiff neck, headache, nausea and vomiting, drowsiness, convulsions, and other signs of brain involvement.

Mumps in adolescent and adult males may also result in the development of orchitis, an inflammation of the testicles. Usually, one testicle becomes swollen and painful about 7-10 days after the parotids swell. This is accompanied by a high fever, shaking chills, headache, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain that can sometimes be mistaken for appendicitis if the right testicle is affected. Sterility is possible after this complication.

Meningococcal Disease

Meningococcal disease can refer to any illness that is caused by the type of bacteria called Neisseria meningitidis, also known as meningococcus [muh-ning-goh-KOK-us]. These illnesses are often severe and include infections of the lining of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) and bloodstream infections (bacteremia or septicemia).

The onset of meningococcal disease is sudden, and often children go to bed with mild flu symptoms and become gravely ill by the morning.

Meningitis from this bacteria starts with sudden onset of fever, headache, and stiff neck This progresses quickly to severe photophobia and rapid, altered status changes. Unfortunately, death is a common result of this diseases.

Arm and partial torso with septicemia

Septicemia, the other hallmark complication of meningococcal disease is actually the more serious of the two infections.  When someone has meningococcal septicemia, the bacteria enter the bloodstream and multiply, damaging the walls of the blood vessels and causing bleeding into the skin and organs.  This results in a spreading rash, and organ failure.   It is not uncommon for survivors to have multiple complications, including loss of digits, kidney failure. And more.

foot with septicemia

There are so many rumors about the dangers of vaccines. They are all based on false lies, and information. Here are some reasons that people say they don’t want vaccines:

"So many vaccines so soon will overwhelm my baby's immune system." Parents born in the 1970s and '80s were vaccinated against eight diseases. A fully vaccinated 2-year-old today, on the other hand, can beat back 14 diseases. So while kids now get more shots—especially since each vaccine usually requires multiple doses—they're also protected against almost twice as many diseases.

But it's not the number of shots that matters; it's what's in them. Antigens are the viral or bacterial components of a vaccine that induce the immune system to build up antibodies and fight future infections. The total antigens children receive in vaccines today are a fraction of what kids used to receive, even including combination vaccines.

"My child's immune system is immature, so it's safer to delay some vaccines or just get the most important ones." This is the biggest misunderstanding among parents today, and it leads to prolonged periods of susceptibility to diseases like measles. In the case of MMR, delaying the vaccine by even three months slightly increases the risk of febrile seizures.

There's no proof that spacing out vaccines is safer. What is known is that the recommended vaccine schedule is designed to provide the greatest possible protection. In fact, dozens of infectious-disease experts and epidemiologists from the CDC, universities, and hospitals across the U.S. closely examine decades of research before making their recommendations.

"Vaccines contain toxins, such as mercury, aluminum, formaldehyde, and antifreeze." Vaccines are mostly water with antigens, but they require additional ingredients to stabilize the solution or increase the vaccine's effectiveness. Parents worry about mercury because some vaccines used to contain the preservative thimerosal, which breaks down into ethylmercury. Researchers now know that ethylmercury doesn't accumulate in the body—unlike methylmercury, the neurotoxin found in some fish. But thimerosal has been removed from all infant vaccines since 2001 "as a precaution”.

Vaccines do contain aluminum salts; these are used to enhance the body's immune response, stimulating greater antibody production and making the vaccine more effective. Although aluminum can cause greater redness or swelling at the injection site, the tiny amount of aluminum in vaccines—less than what kids get through breast milk, formula, or other sources—has no long-term effect and has been used in some vaccines since the 1930s. "It's in our soil, in our water, in the air. You'd have to leave the planet to avoid exposure," says pediatrician and Parents advisor Ari Brown, M.D., of Austin, Texas.

Trace amounts of formaldehyde, used to inactivate potential contamination, may also be in some vaccines, but hundreds of times less than the amount of formaldehyde humans get from other sources, such as fruit and insulation material. Our body even naturally produces more formaldehyde than what is in vaccines.

Certain ingredients, however, do pose some risks. Antibiotics, such as neomycin, used to prevent bacterial growth in some vaccines, and gelatin, frequently used to prevent vaccine components from degrading over time, can cause extremely rare anaphylactic reactions (roughly once or twice per 1 million doses). Some vaccines may contain trace amounts of egg protein, but recent studies have shown that kids with egg allergies can often still receive them.

As for antifreeze, it is simply not in vaccines. Parents may be confusing its chemical names—both ethylene glycol and propylene glycol—with the ingredients used in the vaccine-manufacturing process (such as polyethylene glycol tert-octylphenyl ether, which is not harmful).

These are just some of the arguments against vaccinating. Now why we vaccinate:

Immunizations can save your child’s life. Because of advances in medical science, your child can be protected against more diseases than ever before. Some diseases that once injured or killed thousands of children, have been eliminated completely and others are close to extinction– primarily due to safe and effective vaccines. Polio is one example of the great impact that vaccines had have in the United States. Polio was once America’s most-feared disease, causing death and paralysis across the country, but today, thanks to vaccination, there are no reports of polio in the United States.

Vaccination is very safe and effective. Vaccines are only given to children after a long and careful review by scientists, doctors, and healthcare professionals. Vaccines will involve some discomfort and may cause pain, redness, or tenderness at the site of injection but this is minimal compared to the pain, discomfort, and trauma of the diseases these vaccines prevent. Serious side effects following vaccination, such as severe allergic reaction, are very rare. The disease-prevention benefits of getting vaccines are much greater than the possible side effects for almost all children.

Immunization protects others you care about. Children in the U.S. still get vaccine-preventable diseases. In fact, we have seen resurgences of measles and whooping cough (pertussis) over the past few years. Since 2010, there have been between 10,000 and 50,000 cases of whooping cough each year in the United States and about 10 to 20 babies, many of which were too young to be fully vaccinated, died each year. While some babies are too young to be protected by vaccination, others may not be able to receive certain vaccinations due to severe allergies, weakened immune systems from conditions like leukemia, or other reasons. To help keep them safe, it is important that you and your children who are able to get vaccinated are fully immunized. This not only protects your family but also helps prevent the spread of these diseases to your friends and loved ones.

Immunizations can save your family time and money. A child with a vaccine-preventable disease can be denied attendance at schools or child care facilities. Some vaccine-preventable diseases can result in prolonged disabilities and can take a financial toll because of lost time at work, medical bills or long-term disability care. In contrast, getting vaccinated against these diseases is a good investment and usually covered by insurance. The Vaccines for Children program is a federally funded program that provides vaccines at no cost to children from low-income families.

Immunization protects future generations. Vaccines have reduced and, in some cases, eliminated many diseases that killed or severely disabled people just a few generations ago. For example, smallpox vaccination eradicated that disease worldwide. Your children don’t have to get smallpox shots anymore because the disease no longer exists. By vaccinating children against rubella (German measles), the risk that pregnant women will pass this virus on to their fetus or newborn has been dramatically decreased, and birth defects associated with that virus no longer are seen in the United States. If we continue vaccinating now and vaccinating completely, parents in the future may be able to trust that some diseases of today will no longer be around to harm their children in the future.

Some additional Proof:

Review The American Academy of Pediatric's document listing 21 studies that disprove the autism-MMR link as well as disproving many other myths of vaccines.  Click here for that document.  

Some additional Proof:

If you would like to access the CDC's Vaccine Information Sheets,  click here

Vaccine Schedule

In general, we follow the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the CDC as to the vaccine schedule. We modify it slightly depending on vaccine availability. Following is our general Schedule:

Birth to 15-month Schedule

VaccineBirth1 Mo2 Mo3 Mo4 Mo6 Mo7-9 Mo12 Mo15 Mo
Hepatitis B1st Dose2nd Dose3rd Dose
Rotavirus1st Dose2nd  Dose3rd Dose
Dtap[1]1st Dose2nd  Dose3rd Dose
HIB11st Dose2nd  Dose3rd Dose
IPV11st Dose2nd  Dose3rd Dose
Pneumococcal[2]1st Dose2nd  Dose3rd Dose4th Dose
MMR1st Dose
Varicella1st Dose
Hepatitis A1st Dose
[1] Given as Pentacel when available [2] Given as Prevnar 13

18 Month to 18 Years

Vaccine 18 Mo 21 Mo 2-3 Years 4-6 Years 7-10 Years 11-12 Years 13-15 Years 16-18 Years
MMR 2nd Dose
Dtap 4th Dose 5th Dose
IPV 4th Dose
Varicella 2nd Dose
Hep A 2nd Dose
Tdap Booster Dose
HPV[1] 2 Dose Series 3 Dose Series
Meningococcal B 1st Dose Booster Dose
Meningococcal A 2 Dose Series

[1] Teens under 15 years can now get a 2 dose series.  After this it is a 3 dose series

Influenza Schedule

Vaccine 6 mo to 3 yrs  >  3 Years
First Time Vaccinated 2 doses Single yearly dose
Second Time Vaccinated Yearly Yearly