National Infant Immunization Week 2017!

It’s national infant immunization week!
As many of you know it’s so important for newborns to be protected from pertussis (whooping cough) and YOU are able to get vaccinated during pregnancy to protect your newborn from pertussis in the first few months of life. Babies with whooping cough can be in the ICU within just hours after showing signs of an upper respiratory infection. 
I live in a very touristy area and about six months ago, along with a large flock of tourists came the spread of whooping cough through our area. There were at least 60 deaths of children under four months in our state in just a very short period of time.

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Measles Hits Los Angeles, California After New Strict Vaccine Laws Passed in July of 2016

California joined Mississippi and West Virginia with the passing of Senate Bill 277 last July (2016). This bill did away with religious and philosophical vaccine exemptions, allowing only medical exemptions accepted in the school system. The bill was sparked by the 2014, measles outbreak in Disneyland that affected 159 people in the US and dozens in Mexico and Canada.

Up until last July vaccine exemption numbers had been climbing in California marked by a rise in personal belief exemptions filed by California parents. Every year there had been a slightly larger number of children entering the school system without having gotten their vaccines.

Also included in the bill is the mandatory vaccination of all children entering school. The new legislation applies only to children entering a few checkpoints in any upcoming school year: day care, kindergarten, and seventh grade. That means that an unvaccinated child who entered kindergarten in the fall of 2015 will continue to go without vaccination until the next check point–seventh grade. That’s a long time left unprotected.

The passing of Senate Bill 277 is being hailed by it’s supporters as a victory for public health, however parents of the unvaccinated are claiming this is a violation of their parental rights. Many have chosen to move out of the stater or have removed their children from the school system.  Therefore, California is still seeing high numbers of unvaccinated pockets of people and thus, unprotected communities. When these unprotected communities see disease it quickly spreads because there are not enough vaccinated people to keep it contained.

So Measles is back. And this time it’s in Los Angeles. Continue reading

Tug-of-war with US state-controlled nonmedical vaccine exemptions

All 50 states allow medical exemption from vaccination. Medical vaccination exemptions have been in place for a long time for people who are immunocompromised (with weakened immune system) or for various other conditions that make getting vaccinated dangerous. These are necessary exemptions, however they leave very sick people vulnerable to disease.

Over the last decade many states across the US have been allowing nonmedical exemptions including those for religious rights and philosophical opposition. Your right to nomedical exemption is based on your state’s exemption laws. And in some states there is also the possibility of exemption based on proof of immunity to a disease.

As of 2016, all U.S. states allow a religious exemption to vaccination except California, Mississippi and West Virginia.

The rise of nonmedical exemption is leaving large pockets of unvaccinated individuals in many states–places where there is higher risk and incidence of preventable disease.

Source: CDC 2009-10 through 2015-16 School Year Vaccination Exemptions Trend Report | 2010 data is not available   GIF / Youtube

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Why do we need to keep vaccinating if the disease is “gone”?

screen-shot-2017-01-07-at-4-25-16-pmThe short answer?

The diseases are not gone.

The long answer?

It’s true that diseases we vaccinate against are becoming very rare in developed parts of the world, however we owe that to a number of factors. We wash our hands, clean our food and the things we encounter, take precautions with the sick because we are for the most part informed people, but the biggest reason of all why these diseases are scarce is because we vaccinate and we keep vaccinating.

I absolutely love this analogy from the Center for Disease Control (CDC):

“It’s much like bailing out a boat with a slow leak. When we started bailing, the boat was filled with water. But we have been bailing fast and hard, and now it is almost dry. We could say, ‘Good. The boat is dry now, so we can throw away the bucket and relax.’ But the leak hasn’t stopped. Before long we’d notice a little water seeping in, and soon it might be back up to the same level as when we started.” Continue reading