A Parent’s Guide to Childhood Immunizations – Part II

I will pick up where I left off in A Parent’s Guide to Childhood Immunizations – Part I and deal with some immunizations not yet mentioned (and I do apologize for the time lapse between these posts).

Baby girl gets vaccinatedMMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella [German Measles]) is a very good, effective vaccine used for many years without significant problems, regardless of the negative information that has appeared over the years to attempt to link this vaccine with a number of problems. The supposed link between this vaccine and the development of certain neurologic disorders (e.g. autism) originated in an article appearing over 15 years ago in a British medical journal. Multiple attempts to prove this information have shown no relationship as mentioned above. Not only was this a very poorly designed study but the very same journal was forced to retract the article and in fact the author was stripped of his license to practice medicine and severely punished. There have never been articles since then confirming the supposed association.

Measles is a highly contagious viral illness that has been responsible for wiping out entire populations of primitive and un-immunized people. As with the other 2 diseases in this combination of vaccines in MMR, there can be very serious complications that can lead to prolonged and serious illnesses and even death. Combining these three vaccines into one has been shown to be both safe and highly effective. The side effects of the vaccine are mild and temporary.

Mumps is also highly contagious and can as with German Measles cause significant serious problems.

Varicella (Chicken Pox) has a preventative vaccine with few side effects and very good protective capability. The disease has the potential to cause serious illness and may necessitate hospitalization. As with the vaccines mentioned so far, the low incidence of any problems is way less than contracting the disease.

Hepatitis A is an infectious disease of the liver (as with Hepatitis b mentioned in Part I) but is actually easier to contract than B and far more common. While Hepatitis B needs contact with blood or body fluids to possibly contract the disease, Hepatitis A also can be contracted through contact with stool, urine and saliva- all very prevalent in day care an nursery settings. The vaccine is one of the very best that we have- very small incidence of very mild side effects, and very high degree of protection bordering on 90 to 95% in some studies.

Pneumococcus, (similar to the hib mentioned in Part I), is a bacteria that can cause serious disease in all ages. In the past, there were a large number of deaths associated with contracting illness due to this bacteria- fortunately since the vaccine (pneumococcal) was introduced, this incidence has greatly diminished.

Just a few more vaccines:

Meningococcal disease is responsible for death and/or disability in a large number of those contracting this disease. It’s degree of infectivity rises to higher levels where there are large numbers of young people congregated such as in dormitories and therefore the vaccine is recommended as children get older and are preparing for college, or other situations of group activities (overnight camp, etc.)

HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) is an infectious disease transmitted through sexual activity and therefore the vaccine is recommended as children are entering puberty or before. While this vaccine was initially directed at girls, it has become apparent that because this is a disease transmitted between the sexes, it is equally important to vaccinate boys also at about the same age.

Now that you are aware of the vaccines and the illnesses they protect against, and the safety and efficacy information, I hope you will have your child fully immunized when recommended by his/her Pediatrician. (Click here for the American Academy of Pediatrics 2016 Immunization Schedule). I have been practicing Pediatrics for almost 40 years and have had the unfortunate opportunity to see first-hand the ravages of some of these illnesses before immunizations were available to prevent them. I then was overjoyed to watch the dramatic decrease in these deadly diseases after the introduction of appropriate vaccines. Research is always ongoing and I look forward with great anticipation to the further eradication of diseases that affect children worldwide.

If there are any other questions regarding immunizations or shots, please communicate these to me.

About the Author

Dr. Joseph Skoloff received his undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania and his medical degree from The Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. He is a past Vice Chairman of the Department of Pediatrics, a past Chairman of the Infection Control Committee at the Loudoun Hospital Center and a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. In his 41 years as a practicing pediatrician he has kept hundreds of kids and families healthy and safe and plans to continue to do so for years to come. Dr. Joe believes strongly in the combined power of parent and physician working together for the health of their children. He is an advocate for children everywhere and and adheres strongly to the principles of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr Joe is a member of the PedSafe Expert team


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