Whooping cough cases highlight need for vaccination

A number of children in the Milwaukee metro area recently have been diagnosed with pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough. Whooping cough is particularly worrisome for parents of infants, because children have to be 2 months old to receive the diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTaP) vaccine.

Whooping cough is a highly contagious respiratory infection. Although it first seems like a regular cold, whooping cough can turn more serious. It causes coughing so bad that it’s …Continue reading this post

Chickenpox parties should be left in the past

Chickenpox (varicella) may seem to be just an annoying illness, but all too often it can lead to severe complications and even death. Fortunately, we have an effective and safe vaccine.

Years ago, some parents would deliberately expose their children to other kids who had an active case of chickenpox, hoping that their own child would build immunity. Today, news outlets are reporting another …Continue reading this post

Why it’s important that your family stays up-to-date on vaccines

As you were stocking up on your back-to-school supplies, did you forget to also take stock of your children’s vaccine status? Vaccine recommendations change over time so it’s a great idea to add this item to your annual back-to-school checklist. Most Wisconsin doctors enter vaccine dates into the Wisconsin Immunization Registry, where you can review current vaccine schedules …Continue reading this post

Why you should vaccinate your preteen girl against HPV

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control recently reported that only about half of teen girls in the U.S. have received the human papillomavirus vaccine. The need for this vaccine is clear. About 20 million people, most in their late teens and early 20s, are infected with …Continue reading this post

Local case of measles highlights need for vaccination

A child in Milwaukee has been diagnosed with measles. Measles is an illness that causes high fever, bloodshot eyes, cough and a rash. In some cases, people also develop pneumonia and rarely a severe brain infection. It’s very easy to spread measles from person to person and there is no treatment. Fortunately, it’s also very easy to prevent measles. …Continue reading this post

We’re making progress on immunization rates

The last year has been eventful. The British doctor who published a medical article potentially linking autism to vaccinations was accused of falsifying his data and lost his medical license. The pediatric community welcomed the approval of an enhanced pneumococcal vaccine (Prevnar 13), which will protect young children from even more subtypes of deadly bacteria that cause meningitis and severe blood infections. And, we were saddened by the tragedy of 10 infants from California dying of whooping cough (pertussis), a sobering reminder that vaccine-preventable diseases always are around.

Beginning in early 2010, all of the entities of Children’s Hospital and Health System pledged to work together to make a difference. Harnessing this collective energy and collaborative spirit, during the last year the health system was able to show improvement in vaccination rates in children age 2 and younger. In 2011, we will continue to partner with other organizations in our community to improve immunization rates across the region for all age groups and to spread the word that vaccines are effective, necessary and safe.

For more information about immunizations, read my blog Get the Facts about Vaccinations or call (800) CDC-INFO or visit Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.

Lyn Ranta, MD~ Lyn Ranta, MD, director of Physician Affairs, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin

Dr. Ranta is a co-leader of Children’s Hospital’s immunization initiative, and she treated children as a community pediatrician for more than 20 years.

Doctor who linked autism to vaccine may have falsified results

In 1988, Dr. Andrew Wakefield and other British physicians published a study that proposed a link between the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine and autism. In the last 22 years, many larger more rigorous medical studies have failed to replicate any evidence of a connection between any vaccine (or vaccine preservative) and autism spectrum disorders.

An article this week in the British Medical Journal reviewed all of the original research data and concluded that Dr. Wakefield either grossly misinterpreted or potentially falsified his 1988 results. His license to practice medicine in Britain was revoked in May 2010.

Unfortunately, many parents still continue to be fearful and refuse to have their children vaccinated. Talk with your physician to help separate fact from fiction. The risk of catching these preventable diseases is real. The germs are still present and spread as easily as the common cold. Be a superhero and make sure your children are appropriately immunized.

Lyn Ranta, MD~ Lyn Ranta, MD, director of Physician Affairs, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin

Dr. Ranta is a co-leader of Children’s Hospital’s immunization initiative, and she treated children as a community pediatrician for more than 20 years.

’Tis the season – flu season

With the excitement of the holiday season right around the corner, you probably are thinking about shopping, cooking, parties and snow sports. You are not thinking about chills, aches and fever. You should. Now’s the time to take action against influenza, before it interferes with your winter fun.

Flu immunizations are not only important for children, but also for adults to protect themselves and those around them. At Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, we know vaccines work best when most members of a community are vaccinated. This lowers everyone’s risk of exposure to preventable diseases. To help stop the spread of the flu, this year’s flu vaccine includes protection against H1N1 and seasonal flu strains.

Keep this in mind:
•    Flu vaccine is safe and effective. Because vaccines must be safe for use by as many people as possible, they are developed in accordance with the highest standards of safety. As a result, the United States currently has the safest, most effective vaccine supply in history.
•    Flu vaccine does not make you sick. However, as with any medical procedure, individuals react differently to vaccines, and there is no way to absolutely predict the reaction of a specific individual to a particular vaccine.
•    Flu vaccine does not provide full protection until two weeks after you receive it. Get vaccinated early.
•    The influenza virus changes each year. Last year’s vaccination will not protect you this year. You need a new vaccination each year.
•    Seasonal influenza results in 220,000 hospitalizations and 23,607 deaths every year.

Until we are able to eliminate influenza, it is important to keep immunizing. By getting a flu vaccination, you benefit yourself as well as the vulnerable, unvaccinated people around you.

Visit this website to find a flu vaccine location near you — www.google.org/flushot.

To read about immunization myths, visit www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vac-gen/6mishome.htm. For ten tips about immunizations, visit www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vac-gen/10-shouldknow.htm.

~ Joe Weyker, MBA, RN, manager, Employee Health and Wellness, Children’s Hospital and Health System

Preventing meningitis through immunization

Recently, a teenager was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis. Meningitis is an inflammation or swelling of the linings that cover the brain and spinal cord. Meningitis can occur at any age. The shaded areas in the picture show where the swelling occurs.

Meningitis can be spread through close contact.

This potentially fatal disease can be prevented with a simple shot. Talk to your child’s doctor or nurse to find out how to protect your child from bacterial meningitis as well as other preventable diseases.  Immunizations are an important part of maintaining health and wellness.

An infant with meningitis may have:

  • Fever (body temperature higher than normal)
  • Vomiting
  • Body temperature lower than normal
  • Decreased appetite
  • High-pitched sound to the cry
  • Stiff neck
  • Bulging or tense soft spot on the top of the head
  • Irritability

A child or teenager with meningitis may have:

  • Fever (body temperature higher than normal)
  • Vomiting
  • Decreased appetite
  • Unusual Sleepiness
  • Stiff neck
  • Headache
  • Eyes are overly sensitive to light

For more information, visit www.chw.org/immunize.