Author Archives: TheVaccineMom

The Birthday Curse

My son, Stevie, is turning three in about ten days and here it is again, the birthday curse.

On his first birthday he contracted a nasty case of hand-foot-and-mouth that left him with open sores, finger and toe nails falling off, and a cancelled birthday party. And on his second birthday we were all throwing up from a stomach virus. So he’s turning three in a few days and it’s only appropriate that he come down with another case of hand-foot-and mouth.

What’s going on?! I’m convinced it’s the birthday curse. Or maybe it’s just the curse of the preschooler–they’re germy little buggers.

Hand-foot-and-mouth is a disease caused by multiple viruses and virus strains. There are at least seven strains of the coxsackievirus and at least one enterovirus that can cause the disease. So therefore, your little ones CAN get it again. Continue reading

Vaccines and pregnancy

The CDC recommends the pertussis (whooping cough) and flu vaccines during every pregnancy.

The pertussis vaccine is particularly important during pregnancy. Pertussis can be life-threatening to your newborn.

The pertussis vaccine (most commonly given in the Tdap vaccine–includes tetanus, diphtheria, and acellular pertussis) should given between 27-32 weeks gestation. The earlier the better. It will take at least two weeks for your body to make antibodies and pass them to your unborn child. Getting the vaccine around 27 weeks allows enough time for antibodies to form just in case you go into labor early.

These antibodies will normally protect the newborn until he is able to get his DTaP vaccine at 2 months (in the US).

Make sure you get this vaccine during EVERY pregnancy. The vaccine is mainly given to protect the child. You must get it every pregnancy to protect each child from pertussis. And it is safe for you to do so.

Next up…the flu shot. It is safe and recommended by the CDC to get the flu shot during pregnancy. Continue reading

Hand washing: Just do it.

I’m the “wash your hands” mom, and that’s because it’s so engrained in me due to working a labs.

However, we also spray alcohol on EVERYTHING, including our hands in leu of hand sanitizer. The alcohol leaves our hands chapped, but the soap in the lab is expensive due to being highly-antimicrobial. It seems a better, more efficient, and cheaperĀ  option to douse ourselves with isopropanol just as you would a hand sanitizer. But, is it really better? Is it worth spending the extra grant money on expensive soap? I reviewed this journal article (billed the most comprehensive study of it’s kind) and I have the answer. (Article information can be found at the bottom.)

Health care workers typically wash their hands with soap for around ten seconds before laying their hands on the next patient. And while you learned in grade school that you need a full thirty seconds of scrubbing with soap and hot water to be (mostly) germ-free, this ten second wash might just be as effective.

In the study the team used 62 volunteers with 14 different hygiene products and tested them with several different kinds of viruses and bacteria.

What did they find? Continue reading

I got the flu vaccine but still got sick…

You could still get sick with the flu even if you get the flu shot, or it could be something else. Here are some reasons why you may have flu-like/flu symptoms even after you got the shot:

  1. You may be sick from some other respiratory virus like the common cold, which has some similar symptoms to those of influenza. This can be confusing because these colds circulate during the same time as the flu does. The flu vaccine does not protect you from the common cold viruses.
  2. You may have gotten sick during the two week time period between which you got the shot and you develop antibodies to the flu strains in the shot. Often times this is when people say they got sick from the flu shot. However, you are unable to get sick from the flu shot.
  3. You may have been exposed to a strain of the flu that is very different from those in the flu vaccine. The strains in the vaccine are able to offer some coverage of other similar strains not in the vaccine. But there many strains of the flu and they can easily mutate to form new strains. Therefore, it can be somewhat hard to predict which strains of the flu will circulate during the season. However, the shot will more likely than not offer some coverage and that’s better than nothing.
  4. Different bodies respond differently to different vaccines. If your body doesn’t respond or make ample antibodies you may still get sick from the flu. There’s nothing around that.

You can’t get sick from the flu shot, but you may still end up sick. Nothing is certain but some protection is better than no protection. The flu can be and is deadly so please consider getting the shot for yourself and your children, not only to protect your family but to offer some herd immunity to those unable to protect themselves this season!