Oct 8, 2012


"85-95% of the population typically needs to be vaccinated to prevent a disease from spreading.  Getting vaccinated isn't only a matter of safeguarding yourself or your kids; it's a matter of safeguarding the community." Anne Schuchat, M. D., director of the National Center for Immunizations and Respiratory Disease at the CDC.

The October 7, 2012, Parade Magazine has an interesting article of immunizations and the risk parents are taking in not having their children immunized.  This fear of immunizations has dated from 1998 when a British gastroenterologist Andrew Wakefield published --- after interviewing only 12 parents -- that he thought there might be a link between immunizations and autism.  Disputed by nearly all experts, this fear still exists, and it is a factor in parents not getting their children immunized.  Why should we, caregivers for someone with dementia, care what parents are doing about immunizing their children?  Because it can affect us and the person for whom we provide care.  Infants, pregnant women, elderly and persons with immune deficiencies are put at risk when immunizations are avoided.  Some of the myths about vaccines are:  1) serious diseases have been eradicated, so there is no need to immunize.  The facts are it depends which country one lives in, and with our widespread travel, what exists in one country is easily transferred to another.  2) vaccines cause harmful effects.  In fact, according to the CDC, adverse effects from vaccines are extremely few.  3) babies immune systems can't handle the vaccines.  Fact:  CDC now recommends children birth to age 6 be vaccinated against 13 diseases, and today's vaccines are so refined that they contain much smaller amounts of antigens than in years past.  4) delaying vaccines is safe. Fact:  "By delaying vaccines, you're giving potentially serious infections a window of opportunity to take hold," George Wohlreich, M.D., CEO of College of Physicians in Philadelphia.  5)  natural immunity is better than immunity by vaccines. Fact:  "Parents who take children to a chicken pox party to purposefully expose them to the virus have obviously never seen a child hospitalized with or killed by chicken pox encephalitis."  Plus, diseases like tetanus do not provide any natural immunity.

4,000 people have been infected with pertussis (whooping cough) so far this year in Washington State.  We can help our own health, the health of our care receiver, and the community at large by getting the immunizations recommended.  They might include:  flu shots every season (we have already gotten ours), DPT (diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus --- sometimes called Dtap) every 10 years, pneumonia and shingles.   

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