Currently browsing vaccines for children posts

BUZZY – Because We ALL Need Shots That Don’t Hurt!

As a pediatrician, I strongly support vaccination. I never thought shots were a big deal; parents and staff even chuckle sometimes when a kid is freaking out about shots. You know, ‘deal with it’. I have taken care of children who died from vaccine-preventable diseases, and I used to think that any delay in shots endangers all society. Then I had my own kids, and witnessed firsthand that while vaccines don’t hurt children, shots do. Like most of the 22% of adults who fear needles, my son Max developed a phobia after a horrible shot experience at age 4. This fear affected him every time he had to go to the doctor. I gradually realized that if I didn’t act he could go through adulthood avoiding medical care.

It makes sense that being held down and subjected to more than five shots at a time could have a lifelong impact on complying with health care. When I tried to use numbing creams, one nurse said “that stuff doesn’t work, they need to get used to it”, and gave the shot outside the numb zone! I got mad at the system and myself. If I couldn’t protect my child and I’m part of the system, what parent could? I wanted to come up with something that worked instantly that parents and patients with established needle phobia could bring and use even if the healthcare system wasn’t interested.

I knew that the body could stop pain naturally using something called “gate theory”. If you bang your knee and rub it the pain stops, if you smash your finger and shake it, it helps the pain, or if you burn your finger and stick it under cold running water it quits hurting. I thought of cuffs of cold water, all sorts of messy stuff. Driving home from the hospital one day it occurred to me that vibration would block pain, but it wasn’t until my husband suggested frozen peas UNDER the vibration that it really made my kids’ hands numb to sharp pokes. And Buzzy was conceived.

Buzzy® uses natural pain relief by confusing your body’s own nerves and distracting attention away from the poke, thereby dulling or eliminating sharp pain. Over the past 5 years my children helped test, build, and prototype Buzzy until we had a device that worked. They smashed cell phones, helped me use electric tape and elastic bands, and have served as my first and best advisors. We started with a hand held massager and frozen peas, and finally got to a cute bee with frozen wings.

From a scientific standpoint, I didn’t want to put it out there unless I knew it worked for other people as well as my kids. The Mayday Fund, a nonprofit dedicated to the reduction of pain and suffering, sponsored Georgia State to do a research study in adult volunteers getting IVs inserted. Buzzy significantly decreased pain, and was more effective the more anxiety people already had. A trial in children needing IV starts in the emergency department also showed significantly decreased pain by child and parent report, and even increased IV success threefold. On the basis of this, we got a $1M grant from the National Institutes of Health to study whether Buzzy reduces the pain of immunizations, and hopefully can avoid the development of needle phobia.

How important is this?? Although needle pain from a shot may not seem like a big deal, needle sticks are the most common and most feared cause of medical pain in the world. Blood donation, preventative health care, and diagnosing serious illnesses like cancer are all impacted by fearing doctors and needles. Conversely, awareness and use of available pain control methods for children can result in years of improved health. Buzzy® is now being used for dentistry, travel immunizations, fertility shots, and finger pricks, splinter removal, and flu injections! We’ve heard from parents who had considered stopping more effective injected or IV treatments due to needle fear who are now able to give their kids the best treatment due to Buzzy. We’ve even heard from kids… stories and letters that remind us that Needle Pain Matters…and because of that, so does Buzzy.


Before a shot:

My area of research is pain control, so I hear a lot of stories about drama at the doctor’s. For young children, pain is punishment and scary, so addressing fear is an important first step to making shots less of a big deal. Children are less fearful when they know what’s happening and feel in control. Sadly, there are no global answers, but there are some general tricks of the trade you can try.

  • When asked “am I going to get a shot?” focus on the benefit. “Yes, they have medicine that keeps you healthy.”
  • NEVER promise they won’t get a shot unless you intend to follow through and come back another time if they’re due for one
  • NEVER threaten with a shot if children don’t behave (establishing a needle as punishment or you as untrustworthy will guarantee a bad experience).
  • If the child’s question is, “Is it going to hurt?”, avoid using the words pain or hurt. Instead, use the word “bother”, and answer this way: “Actually, a lot of kids aren’t that bothered by shots. Before you get them, I’ll show you how we will make getting them not a big deal.”
  • If they’ve had a bad experience in the past, say “I found out about some new cool things we can do to make them much more comfortable.”

And now – the shot:

  • First, relieving kids’ distress begins with you. The best combination is warm but firm. No apologizing, empathizing, or letting them “just go to the bathroom real quick.” Instead, use praise, “I know you can do this”, and direct them to pay attention to non-shot related things before they get anxious. “Oh, look, SpongeBob.”
  • Second, the person giving the shots. These are research-proven things that make shots hurt less:
    • Give the least painful shot first
    • Give the shots sitting up in the arm after age 18 months
    • Use a slower push
    • Use a longer needle
    • Use “position of comfort”: facing you on your lap, or with your arm around the child if they are older and receiving shots sitting up. Being held flat is the most vulnerable positing you can be in; much better if 4-6 year olds can straddle your lap facing you and get shots while you hug them.
  • Third, to help overcome established needle-phobia:
    • There are creams (over the counter LMX-4, Ferndale Labs) which can be applied 20 minutes in advance, or prescription EMLA (Astra-Zeneca) which needs at least an hour. Be sure they’re placed correctly, and know that they only numb the surface. Never promise complete pain relief. Instead, try “these will help a LOT!”
    • Studies show that appropriate distraction decreases distress. While the nurse is getting the injections, let a child choose from multiple visual games or tasks to focus elsewhere during the shot. “Do you want me to read to you, or give you things to find?” Be prepared to pick if they’re indecisive. “You know what I think would be good? Let’s do this…” Bee-Stractors Emergency Entertainment cards can be kept in a purse or glove compartment for situations when you forget to plan ahead.
    • Tasks that include a sensation also help focus attention away from the poke: for example, tell your child to count zigzags as you scratch the edge of a fingernail on their arm. Tell the child to yell “now!” when a fingernail gets to the elbow or wrist. For multiple shots or a seriously anxious child, bring an ice pack or vibrating toy to touch other body parts and have the child name the body part touched by ice. “Knee! Leg! Nose!” Even better, touch them with an ice pop and 5 right answers wins the pop!
    • And speaking of ice packs, studies have shown that putting an ice cube on the site before a shot can decrease the pain. Adding an element of vibration during the poke can help as well, like when a dentist wiggles your lip during Novocaine. This is the breakthrough of Buzzy, but you can achieve the same results with any vibration/solid ice pack combination. For best results, let the child feel the sensations beforehand by scratching the arm under the ice pack/vibration source. “See how cold this is, and see how now you can’t feel so much any more?” Seeing for themselves and agreeing with you helps the child feel in control.

Whatever happens, praise how they did!


Editor’s Note: With the increased transmissibility of the Delta variant, COVID-19 cases are on the rise around the United States as well as the rest of the world. And though there is currently no approved vaccine for kids under 12, there is still a tremendous role that Buzzy can play! Over half of adults unvaccinated for COVID-19 fear needles. To no-one’s surprise, this same fear affects how willing teens and adults are to get vaccinated. The good news is you don’t have to be a child for Buzzy to help. Although we first ran this post in 2011, what Dr. Baxter has to say is as true today as it was then. Shots hurt…and they shouldn’t…and with Buzzy, they don’t have to.

Please – if you haven’t already – for your sake and the sake of your family
Get vaccinated for COVID!

Study: HPV Vaccine, Safe and Effective Against Pre-Cancer

“HPV vaccine for schoolgirls gets full marks,” reports ITV News.

Almost all cases of cervical cancer, which usually takes many years to develop, are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV). HPV causes the cells in the cervix to slowly go through a series of pre-cancerous changes that can eventually turn into cancer.

The HPV vaccine helps protect against cervical cancer by preventing the cells of the cervix from changing into pre-cancerous cells.

In the UK, cervical cancer affects more than 3,000 women a year, with most cases diagnosed between the ages of 25 and 29. In 2016, 815 women died of cervical cancer. A programme began 10 years ago to vaccinate schoolgirls aged 12 to 13 against HPV.

In this latest review, researchers pooled results from 25 trials worldwide involving more than 70,000 girls and young women.

  • After looking at the evidence, the researchers reported that the HPV vaccine provides excellent protection against development of pre-cancerous cells in the cervix.
  • This review found that vaccinating girls before they have HPV works best, cutting their chances of getting pre-cancerous cells linked to the most dangerous strains, HPV16 and HPV18, by 99%.
  • Vaccinating women aged 26 and over, and those who have already been infected, also cuts their chances of pre-cancerous cells but not as dramatically.
  • The researchers found no increased risk of miscarriage or other serious adverse events in the years following vaccination.

Find out more about the HPV vaccine.

Where did the story come from?

The study was carried out by researchers from the Belgian Cancer Centre and the University of Antwerp, both in Belgium, and Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust in the UK as part of the worldwide Cochrane Collaboration of research. It was funded by the National Institute of Health Research, European Cancer Network, Belgian Foundation Against Cancer, IWT (a Belgian science and technology institute) and the CoheaHr Network (part of the European Commission).

It was published by the Cochrane Collaboration and is free to read online.

The UK media celebrated the news that the vaccine is safe and works well, with ITV News asking: “Is it now time for boys to get it too?”

Boys are currently not routinely offered the vaccine, although some people have pressed for the programme to be extended. While boys do not get cervical cancer, they can pass HPV on to unvaccinated girls. The virus can also cause less common cancers of the throat, anus and penis.

What kind of research was this?

This was a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. This is the best way to find out whether a treatment works.

Carrying out a meta-analysis means researchers can pool evidence from smaller trials to come up with a more reliable result.

What did the research involve?

Researchers looked for randomised controlled trials that compared the HPV vaccine with a dummy vaccine (placebo) and measured how many girls or young women had pre-cancerous cells (called cervical intraepithelial neoplasia) at grade 2 or above.

They also wanted to assess the vaccine’s effectiveness against the most dangerous strains, HPV16 and HPV18, which are thought to cause around 70% of all cervical cancers. The UK vaccination programme protects against both.

The 26 studies included 73,428 girls and women, mostly aged 15 to 26, with follow-up periods from 0.5 to 8 years. The researchers looked separately at results for:

  • girls or women who had no HPV infection when vaccinated
  • women aged over 26
  • the 2 different types of HPV vaccine, which protect against different strains

As well as looking for evidence of pre-cancerous cells, they checked for differences in rates of serious adverse events and pregnancy outcomes between women given the HPV vaccine and women given a placebo.

Unfortunately, results for cervical cancer were not available.

All the studies were assessed for risk of bias and, while all but one were funded by the vaccine manufacturers, the review’s authors said most of the trials were at low risk of bias.

What were the basic results?

Results were clearest for girls and young women who had not been infected with HPV at the time they were vaccinated. These findings are likely to be the most relevant for girls in the UK, who receive the vaccine at an age where they are unlikely to have come into contact with HPV.

For non-infected girls and women:

  • chances of having pre-cancerous cells (CIN grade 2) linked to HPV16 or HPV18 reduced from 164 per 10,000 to 2 per 10,000 – a reduction in relative risk (RR) of 99% (RR 0.01, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.00 to 0.05)
  • chances of having higher-grade pre-cancerous cells (CIN grade 3) linked to HPV16 or HPV18 reduced from 70 per 10,000 to 0 per 10,000 – a reduction in risk of 99% (RR 0.01, 95% CI 0.00 to 0.10)
  • chances of having pre-cancerous cells (CIN grade 2) linked to any strain of HPV reduced from 287 per 10,000 to 106 per 10,000 – a reduction in risk of 63% (RR 0.37, 95% CI 0.25 to 0.55)
  • chances of having higher-grade pre-cancerous cells (CIN grade 3) linked to any strain of HPV reduced from 109 per 10,000 to 23 per 10,000 – a reduction in risk of 79% (RR 0.21, 95% CI 0.04 to 1.10)

The rate of deaths was similar among vaccinated and non-vaccinated women – 11 per 10,000 in the control group and 14 per 10,000 in the vaccine group – and no deaths were linked to the vaccine.

The HPV vaccine did not increase the risk of miscarriage or pregnancy termination. However, there was not enough information to be sure about the risks of stillbirth or babies born with malformations.

How did the researchers interpret the results?

The researchers said: “There is high-quality evidence that HPV vaccines protect against cervical pre-cancer in adolescent girls and women who are vaccinated between 15 and 26 years of age.”

They added that “protection is lower” when women are already infected with HPV at the time of vaccination.


This review provides reassurance for women and girls who have received the HPV vaccine, and for parents of girls due to receive it.

It found the vaccine does a good job of protecting against the most dangerous strains of HPV, which are passed on through sex and skin-to-skin contact of the genital areas.

The majority of the trials included in the review involved girls and women aged 15 to 26, which is slightly older than those vaccinated in the UK programme.

However, what made the key difference for the vaccine’s effectiveness was whether or not women already had HPV when they were vaccinated. By vaccinating girls at age 12 to 13, the chances of them being already infected are lower, which should increase the effectiveness of the vaccination programme.

HPV vaccination has been shown in this study to reduce the chances of women getting pre-cancerous cells in the cervix, but we need to see longer-term results to be sure this translates into a reduced chance of cervical cancer.

Most young women aged 14 to 25 in the UK should now have received the vaccine, meaning rates of cervical cancer may drop in the coming decades. In the meantime, women should continue to attend screening appointments for cervical cancer when invited.

Find out more about the HPV vaccine.

Analysis by Bazian
Edited by NHS Choices



NHS Choices logo



Childhood Illnesses – Are We Winning The Battle?

As with any illness, it is best to prevent than to treat. Our progress in battling some devastating childhood illnesses over the years has centered on the introduction and efficiency of our existing vaccines and effective preventive medications.

One of the first notable vaccines was that produced to prevent paralytic polio. Early on this was an oral vaccine and we (of a certain age) can remember the sugar cubes given out in school followed in rapid order by oral and then injectable types of the vaccine. These obviously were very effective in eliminating the most dreaded form of polio- that which produced paralysis in children and young adults. Again, some of us remember trying to fall asleep at night thinking of that terrible disease and the pictures of “iron lungs” (a type of whole-body respirator) lined up in the hallways of hospitals. There was no treatment and as of today there is still no treatment. However the severe clinical outcome has been erased. Polio virus is still around today and is not uncommon but is such a mild illness that affected people may not even realize they might have it. (Very similar to many of our common every day illnesses)

Many of us also remember smallpox vaccine that left a puckered, stippled scar on the top of our shoulders. As it began disappearing from the US due also to better and newer isolation techniques, it was noticed that there were more bothersome reactions than actual cases of small pox in this country. Also worldwide there were fewer and fewer outbreaks that became controllable with the above mentioned isolation techniques. Smallpox vaccine was discontinued.

With the advent of improved TB testing and effective medicines, a vaccine became unnecessary although the disease still exists, it is controllable and treatable.

Measles, mumps and German measles used to take its toll on primitive peoples of the world until there were effective vaccines that prevented the illnesses and sometimes the birth defects that would arise in babies born to women who had had German measles during pregnancy.

Hemophilus influenza is a common bacterium causing some illnesses in this country and around the world but the most dreaded of these was a virulent kind of meningitis (infection of the covering of the brain and spinal cord, leading to some life-long neurologic deficits in children and even death). While I was in my training to become a Pediatrician a vaccine was developed to eradicate this illness and within a very short time the incidence of hemophilus meningitis dropped severely – today it is a rarity.

More recently we have seen the development of effective and efficient vaccines to help prevent influenza, chickenpox, hepatitis, meningitis, rabies, and the list is constantly increasing (this is not a complete list). Along with this ongoing effort is the continued development of medications to help treat the rare illnesses that still crop up occasionally.

The bottom line is that we have many weapons at our disposal to defeat our viral and bacterial contagious diseases in children and adults but those who ignore the value of immunizations at an early age are not only placing their own children at risk but the childhood and adult population of the entire country. Many of these illnesses are highly contagious and infectious but we must all work together to control and hopefully eventually eradicate these deadly microscopic enemies.

How Can Regular Vet Visits Help Keep Your Kids Safe Too? Part1

I want to preface this post by saying that recently, many of my clients who know I write articles here about child and pet safety have started to ask me many questions relating to health issues that affect dogs, and wondering which ones, if any, may affect their children as well. While colds and flu’s are worried kids with puppy at vethitting everyone around us pretty hard this year, and seem to be hanging on for a long time, there are a few questions I seem to be asked by clients quite frequently. You may recognize some of the questions, as you may have asked yourself some of them on more than one occasion. For example, “My child has been sick for several weeks now; is it possible the dog is carrying the germ and re-infecting them?” or “Is the canine influenza virus the same as human influenza? Should I keep my child away from the dog just in case?” And then there are many diseases we vaccinate our pets against, without even knowing much about those diseases, and how the diseases can or can’t affect the family.

In order to give them accurate answers, I started to do some extensive research on the subject. Well, before I knew it, I had written almost 6 pages of information!! So I decided the best thing to do was to divide this article into two parts, so I could bring you the most up-to-date and current information. This article will focus mainly on disease canines can get, and which ones CAN and CANNOT affect your children. Next month, I will focus more on the intestinal parasites they can be prone to.

I feel it is important to stress here that I am NOT a licensed veterinarian, so I am writing this post based solely on information I have been able to compile to help inform you as best as I can, and maybe something I write will bring up some questions that maybe you never even thought to ask! Either way, please consult your pet’s veterinarian and your pediatrician for the ‘final word’ on all of this. I think the best way to approach this is to divide each category into 5 topics: What is the disease, Signs that your pet may have the disease, Can your child catch it, How dangerous is the disease to your child, and how can you avoid your pet from getting the disease to begin with. So, let’s begin with…..

Canine Influenza.

  • What is it: According to the CDC, this strain of virus, also known as H3N8, originated in horses. The H3N8 equine influenza (horse flu) virus has been known to exist in horses for more than 40 years. In 2004, however, cases of an unknown respiratory illness in dogs (initially greyhounds) were reported in the United States. An investigation showed that this respiratory illness was caused by the equine influenza A H3N8 virus. Scientists believe this virus jumped species (from horses to dogs) and has adapted to cause illness in dogs and spread among dogs, especially those housed in kennels and shelters. This is now considered a dog-specific H3N8 virus
  • Early Signs Your Pet May Have It: Similar to the signs we humans show: Runny nose, coughing, sneezing, lethargy and fever.
  • Can Your Child Catch It? As of now, there are no reported cases of this disease being transferred from Animals to humans, but just like strains of the human flu are constantly changing, so too are the strains of flu in other species. So keep yourself informed and updated.
  • How Dangerous Is This For Your Child: As of now, according to the CDC, it is not.
  • How Can I Avoid This: While there is a Canine Flu vaccine that vets highly recommend, just like the human vaccine, it generally helps, but is not a guarantee that your dog will not get it. The vaccination just reduces the likelihood of contracting it. Also, be cautious when boarding your dog at a kennel or a vet, as it is very contagious from dog to dog.

To read more in-depth information on this, you can go to:


  • What Is It: Rabies is a deadly disease that is carried in the saliva of some wild animals. It attacks the nervous system and can cause brain inflammation. Although survival is possible, the virus almost always kills its host. The virus grows in the muscle tissue before moving into the spinal cord and brain. The virus cannot survive for more than a day outside its host. The most common way to contract rabies is through the saliva of an animal already infected by it. (Most commonly found in animals such as raccoons, skunks, foxes, and bats) which can only happen through a direct bite. It can also be transferred through an open wound by a scratch of an infected animal where there is a current open wound. A dog can contract rabies if they are not vaccinated against it.
  • Early Signs Your Pet May Have This: Restlessness, unusual fearfulness, unusual aggression (growling, snapping or biting at people), fever, lethargy in a usually active animal, loss of appetite, or trying to hide and isolate in dark places.
  • Can Your Child Catch It? Yes. But the only ways your child or family would be at risk for this disease is if they are either bitten by a wild animal that is already infected by this disease (if your un-vaccinated dog is bitten by another animal who carries the disease, has gone through the ‘incubation period’ (which can be 2-12 weeks) and then turns around and bites your child) or if an infected animal scratches your child where they already have an open wound.
  • How Dangerous Is This For Your Child? Very serious. There are a series of shots your child can get that will essentially save their lives, but the usefulness depends on how close they are administered after the initial bite. For this reason, it is very important that you stress to your child the importance of ALWAYS telling you if they ever get a bite. A child might be afraid to tell you if the family dog bites them because they might fear the dog getting in trouble, or being given away. A wild animal that seems to be unusually tame is a natural attraction to curious kids…. But this is a ‘later sign’ in an infected animal. This is why the largest incidents of wild animal bites in humans are kids under the age of 15. They may be afraid to tell you they touched a wild animal for fear they might get in trouble, and therefore hide the bite from you. This can cause a huge delay in getting medicine that may save their lives. The CDC has an animated website that you can go to with your kids to teach them all about this.
  • How Can I Avoid This: The best way to avoid this is if you live in an area heavily populated with raccoons, foxes, skunks, bats, or if you do a lot of outdoor activities in these types of areas, make sure you vaccinate your dog as your vet recommends. Once the vaccination is given to your pet, it is in their system and the vaccination itself will not harm anyone touching the pet in any way.

You can read more information on this from the CDC site:


The first thing I am going to say is how shocked I was to realize how incorrect my own personal knowledge of this disease was! So as I mentioned, writing this post has been very informative for me as well!! I seriously thought that Leptospirosis could NOT be transferred from animals to humans! Wow was I wrong!

Four of the five subcategory questions were pretty much all answered in one quote from the CDC, so I am just going to paraphrase them here, then include a direct link to their site so you can read more on it.

According to the CDC “Leptospirosis is a disease caused by spiral shaped bacteria called “leptospires.” It occurs worldwide and can affect humans as well as many wild and domestic animals, including dogs and cats. The disease can be serious for both humans and animals. In people, the symptoms are often like the flu, but sometimes leptospirosis can develop into a more severe, life-threatening illness with infections in the kidney, liver, brain, lung, and heart. The bacteria are spread through the urine of infected animals, which can get into water or soil and can survive there for weeks to months. Humans and animals can become infected through contact with this contaminated urine (or other body fluids, except saliva), water, or soil. The bacteria can enter the body through skin or mucous membranes (eyes, nose, or mouth), especially if the skin is broken from a cut or scratch. Drinking contaminated water can also cause infection. Infected wild and domestic animals may continue to excrete the bacteria into the environment continuously or every once in a while for a few months up to several years.”

  • How Can I Avoid This: The CDC highly recommends vaccinating your pet against this disease regularly, but cautions that there are many strains of this disease, so the vaccination is not a 100% guarantee. Your best bet is to try to keep the rodent population in your area down to a minimum!

Please educate yourself on this disease by going here: I am really glad I did!!!!

Parvo (Parvovirus)

  • What Is It: Parvo is a life-threatening, highly-contagious viral disease. The virus attacks very rapidly, and most severely attacking the dogs intestinal tract. It also attacks the white blood cells. According to WebMD, “Parvovirus is extremely contagious and can be transmitted by any person, animal or object that comes in contact with it. Highly resistant, the virus can live in the environment for months, and may survive on inanimate objects such as food bowls, shoes, clothes, carpet and floors. It is common for an unvaccinated dog to contract parvovirus from the streets, especially in urban areas where there are many dogs.”
  • Early Signs Your Pet May Have This: Lethargy, severe vomiting, loss of appetite and bloody, foul-smelling diarrhea that can lead to life-threatening dehydration.
  • Can Your Child Catch This: According to the CDC, the parvovirus does not cross between species. Although it is a very contagious disease, it stays within the species. There is a parvovirus that humans get (also known as 5th disease, or B19) it is completely different from the parvovirus that canines get.
  • How Dangerous Is This For Your Child: Again, according to the CDC, it stays within the species. So while you child can get a bad case of Parvovirus from his best buddy at school (which symptoms are that of a really bad cold or flu) they can not get the deadly symptoms associated with Canine Parvovirus.
  • How Can I Avoid This: WebMD also states, “You can protect your dog from this potential killer by making sure he’s up-to-date on his vaccinations. Parvovirus should be considered a core vaccine for all puppies and adult dogs. It is usually recommended that puppies be vaccinated with combination vaccines that take into account the risk factors for exposure to various diseases. One common vaccine, called a “5-in-1,” protects the puppy from distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvovirus and parainfluenza.”

Read more on this here:

Canine distemper:

This is another one where most of the subcategories have pretty much all been answered in the one quote. According to the PetHealthNetwork:

“It is a very contagious and deadly disease caused by a virus. Dogs and ferrets as well as certain species of wildlife, such as raccoons, wolves, foxes, and skunks, are at risk. Although there is no cure for distemper, the most important fact to remember is that it is preventable through vaccination. For dogs that have developed clinical signs of distemper, the prognosis is very guarded depending on the immune response and severity of symptoms. Dogs that develop neurological signs are the least likely to recover. While dogs of all ages can become infected with canine distemper virus, puppies—especially those with poor immune systems or those that are unvaccinated or not completely vaccinated—are at the greatest risk for this nasty virus, which is spread through the air or by direct contact. It invades the tonsils and lymph nodes first, and then spreads to the respiratory, urinary, digestive, and nervous systems.”

  • Can Your Child Catch This and How Dangerous Is This For Them: And after much research, I have found that it is not often a major concern for humans; humans can get the virus, but there are no effects.

So it is here I will start winding all of this down, and in doing so just give you a quick reminder that each one of the illnesses mentioned above can be either mostly or totally avoided just by simply taking your dog to the vet for their regularly scheduled vaccinations. In keeping your pets safe, you are helping to keep your kids safe too! As I mentioned earlier, I began researching some of this in order to answer some questions for my clients, but I have learned so much myself, I thought it was important to share this information with all of you who have children that could be directly affected as well.

I hope you have gained some valuable information, and I am also going to end this by adding one more link: It is an A-Z list of diseases that can cross between animals and humans….because this article is long enough already, and there is just no way I can cover them all! Also just a quick reminder that next month I will cover intestinal parasites dogs can be prone to.

We all strive to make our homes a happy one…. let’s do all we can to make our homes a safe and healthy one too!!!

Flu Shot Facts You Need to Know to Protect Your Family

Some surprising flu shot facts to spur you to protect yourself and your family this winter.

Our house recently got hit by a VERY nasty virus. We had someone sick at home for over a month – and each of us missed about a week of work or school, with lingering after effects. It’s been a tough road! I was the last to get the bug and the timing couldn’t have been worse. I was so sick I wasn’t able to attend national music championships that my son was competing in….and his school WON! Best in the country….but I missed it.

flu-facts2This got me thinking about the flu and annual flu shots. The illness we had seemed every bit as bad as the flu, but we knew the bug wasn’t influenza. We had all been to the doctor – and the symptoms just didn’t quite fit (see the F.A.C.T.S. in the box to the right). Plus 2 out of the 3 of us had already had our flu shots for the season. It was just a really bad cold. But it made me think about the benefits of the flu shot – something which CAN avoid the risk of an illness as bad as the one we all just suffered through.

Critical Info for 2016-2017 Flu Season

The nasal flu mist vaccine is NOT recommended this season due to concerns about how well it works – so kids will need to get the standard shot. And it’s not too late for kids or adults to get vaccinated. Click here for more information on this season’s guidelines.

Benefits of the Flu Shot

  • Prevent your kids from missing lots of school (in higher grades this can really set them back and create stress – which it did for our son)
  • Prevent you from missing lots of work – or REALLY important events – like your child competing in a national championship!!
  • Pflu shot foctsrotect you and your child from the most severe risks of the flu
    • The flu kills – as WW1 drew to a close in 1918, more people died from the flu pandemic of the time than from the war – which any female who followed the Twilight series would know!
    • But even in regular flu seasons people (and kids) die – over the past 10 years, the number of children killed by influenza in the US has ranged from 34 to 171 per year – EXCEPT for the 2009 flu pandemic when well over 300 children died!
  • Not so concerned by these small numbers? How about protecting your child from ending up in the hospital with influenza complications?
    • Each year an average of 20,000 children younger than 5 years old are hospitalized in the US because of flu complications – the risk is especially bad for kids under age 2
    • The most common complication of influenza is pneumonia – which was found to be one of the main drivers of the death toll during the 1918-19 flu pandemic
    • Other less common but very severe flu complications include
      • Breakdown of muscle tissue that can cause kidney damage (rhabdomyolysis)
      • Inflammation and damage of the heart muscle (myocarditis)
      • Swelling and damage of the brain, including seizures (encephalitis)
    • Protect those you love and others in your community – not everyone can get the flu shot, including babies younger than 6 months, so help keep everyone safe by getting vaccinated

Fun Fact About Flu Shot Development

Did you know that the experts who decide what flu strains go into the seasonal vaccine don’t just guess or pick what goes in the vaccine at the last minute? They are constantly monitoring the state of the flu all around the world. For example, when flu season is over in the US and Europe – it moves south to places like Australia, since their winter occurs when it’s summer in the Northern Hemisphere. There are 5 major centers around the world that coordinate with the World Health Organization on flu tracking – in the US, UK, Australia, Japan and China. All this information helps with choosing the best possible strains for the seasonal vaccine in each region.

Study: Shots “More Upsetting” for Babies of First-time Mothers

baby-shots-and-first-time-mothers“Babies with anxious mothers ‘feel more pain’ during jabs (*shots),” is a headline in The Daily Telegraph.

The story comes from a study looking at whether a baby’s “pain behaviours” (such as crying and tensing their limbs) during their first immunisation is affected by their mother’s mental health or if she is a first-time mother.

Despite The Telegraph’s headline, the study did not show any direct association between maternal anxiety (at least, long-term pre-existing anxiety disorder) and infant distress.

It did show that the babies of first-time mothers expressed more “pain behaviours” both before and during the first vaccination than the babies of mothers who have other children.

The researchers speculated that a first-time mother’s unfamiliarity with the vaccination process may be picked up by the baby in some way and this causes short-term psychological distress, making them more vulnerable to pain.

The good news for worried mums is that the study also found that all mothers consistently overestimated their baby’s pain levels during vaccination – in other words, it did not hurt their baby as much as they thought it did.

And, of course, a quick prick of the skin is nothing compared with the pain associated with preventable conditions such as measles or mumps.

Based on these findings, the researchers have advised that first-time parents be better prepared for infant vaccinations and given more information about the procedure and how the shots will affect their kids.

Read NHS Choices’ Six practical vaccination tips for parents.

Where did the story come from?

The study was carried out by researchers from the University of Durham. There is no information about external funding.

The study was published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology.

The Telegraph’s headline claiming that babies with anxious mothers feel more pain during jabs was misleading, depending on how you want to define the term “anxious mother”.

The study found that babies of first-time mothers expressed more distress before vaccination, and the authors suggest this may be caused by heightened levels of maternal anxiety immediately before and during the vaccination process.

But no link was found between increased levels of distress and whether the mother had mental health issues, such as anxiety disorder, depression or problems coping with stress.

The research was covered fairly, although uncritically, by the Daily Mail and The Telegraph.

However, again it is probably misleading to talk about the babies “feeling more pain”, as both papers did.

The study looked at behavioural signs of distress in the babies and not directly at their pain levels.

Any increase in signs of distress could mainly have been related to psychological, not physical, discomfort.

What kind of research was this?

This was a prospective observational study looking at whether a mother’s mental health and if she was a first-time mother had any association with how much distress babies express during their first routine vaccinations at two months of age.

The study also looked at whether the baby’s distress was associated with how often they were touched by the mother.

This type of study can only show an association – it cannot show, for example, that a mother’s anxiety levels cause her baby to feel more pain.

In this type of study there may be many other factors (called confounders) that affect a baby’s expression of distress during vaccination.

The authors point out that vaccinations are a common cause of pain and distress in babies and that early experiences of pain shape an infant’s response to later painful events. Maternal levels of stress and depression have previously been found to have a link with infant expression of pain, and research has also indicated that being a first-time mother may be linked to this, but the evidence is still limited.

What did the research involve?

The authors initially recruited 66 mothers and their babies who were attending baby clinics.

All the babies had been assessed as healthy by health visitors, who saw them before the vaccination procedure. Sixteen of the mothers were excluded from the final analysis for various reasons – for example, 13 babies were held during the vaccination by another relative or friend rather than the mother.

Nineteen of the remaining women were first-time mothers.

The mothers and babies were all videotaped during the first routine immunisation at two months of age, which involves two vaccinations.

The researchers measured infant pain levels during the vaccination procedure using a behavioural assessment which looked at levels of crying, facial expression and pain movements (for example, tensing, clenching limbs and flailing).

These behaviours were taped using a HD digital film camera and were studied frame by frame. A composite total pain measure was then calculated. The final infant pain score varied from 0% (no pain behaviours) to 100% (all pain behaviours all of the time).

They also measured and coded maternal touching behaviour such as rubbing, patting, kissing or rocking.

The recordings were studied frame by frame in order to assess the amount of pain babies expressed in the following five phases during the immunisation process:

  • 20 seconds before the first vaccination
  • During the first vaccination – where the needle entered the skin
  • The time between the two vaccinations
  • The second vaccination
  • 20 seconds after the second needle had been removed

After the vaccination, mothers completed a validated questionnaire which assessed stress immediately after vaccination, and a further questionnaire to assess whether they were depressed.

Researchers used a pain questionnaire to assess how mothers evaluated their babies’ pain on a scale of 0 (no perceived pain) to 10 (maximum perceived pain).

They analysed their results using standard statistical methods.

What were the basic results?

Forty-nine mothers completed the study, with an average age of 29 years:

  • 23 were stressed
  • 7 were depressed
  • 1 was both stressed and depressed

The researchers found that:

  • Babies of first-time mothers showed significantly more pain behaviours before the insertion of the first needle and during the first vaccination than the babies of more experienced mothers
  • Maternal mental health, stress levels and type of touch had no association with infant pain expression
  • All mothers consistently overestimated their babies’ pain levels and their assessments were “poorly correlated” with infant pain behavior

How did the researchers interpret the results?

The researchers say the findings suggest that being a first-time mother may influence infant pain expression before and during the first vaccination, independent of maternal mental health. They suggest that further research, possibly looking at interventions for new parents, is needed.


This is a small study and although it was carefully carried out, its findings should be viewed with caution. As the authors point out, its size means it may not have had the power to detect all differences in infant pain expression. They argue that a larger study incorporating a more balanced sample of mothers and including other racial and ethnic groups is needed. In addition, other factors could have affected how the babies reacted, including their particular mood at the time.

Still, it seems likely that first-time mothers may find their child’s first immunisation more difficult and their feelings may be sensed by their babies. It would seem to be helpful if this group was given full information about what happens during immunisation to prepare them for the event ahead of time.

If you are a first-time parent, NHS Choices articles you may find useful include:

Analysis by Bazian. Edited by NHS Choices. Follow Behind the Headlines on Twitter.


“Babies with anxious mothers ‘feel more pain’ during jabs,” was today’s headline in The Daily Telegraph. The story comes from a study looking at whether a baby’s “pain behaviours”…

Links to Headlines

Links to Science

Editor’s Note: *clarification provided for our US readers.

NHS Choices logo


Next Page »