Chickenpox vaccine is great, but it’s got us 30+ year-olds getting shingles. Here’s why…

The varicella (chickenpox) vaccine came out in 1995. So, as of now (2019) in the US (and Canada), most of the college-age students have been vaccinated and have never had the natural chickenpox virus.

Once you’ve had the natural chickenpox virus in your body the virus goes dormant in your nervous system until possibly one day when you’re under a time of extreme stress/immunocompromise and the virus reactivates. Reactivation of the varicella virus (chickenpox) causes shingles (zoster).

Since these kids have never had the chickenpox virus, theoretically they won’t get shingles later in life. That’s assuming the vaccine is effective, most everyone has been vaccinated, and these children do not get the wild virus.

We can’t expect that all children will be vaccinated, however, the chickenpox vaccine is so effective that the seroconversion rate (when antibodies develop to a detectable level in the blood) is around 95% in healthy children.(2) That means the vaccine works pretty well, so it should help create good herd immunity if most children are vaccinated, and thus, aid in the prevention of shingles for the uninfected/vaccinated later in life. 

So, simplified–if you’ve had chickenpox you are able to get shingles. If you’ve never had chickenpox you are not able to get shingles. If you’ve had the vaccine, you’ve never had chickenpox so you shouldn’t get shingles. 

Read moreChickenpox vaccine is great, but it’s got us 30+ year-olds getting shingles. Here’s why…

FDA Approves a 6 in 1 Vaccine

What if you could eliminate some of the needle pokes your young child gets at his checkups? You’d do it, right?

Well, it won’t be long before you have the option to do just that.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has just approved a vaccine for children six weeks to four years that includes six different preventable diseases in one vaccine. They are calling this new combination vaccine “Vaxelis”.

Vaxelis contains antigens to immunize against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussus (whooping cough), hepatitus B, polio, and Haemophilus influenzae type b (HiB).

If you’ve been with me for a while, you may remember from previous articles, antigens are something that cause the immune system to come to investigate and form an immune response against. In the case of a vaccine, the antigen may be a small part of the virus, a killed bacteria, a weakened form of the virus…just to name a few.

It’s essential to understand that the antigens in a vaccine cannot cause full-blown disease. They are only there for your body to recognize, defend against, and then remember should the natural disease ever enter the body. (For more on immune memory: Beautiful Immune System Lesson 2)

Is it safe to vaccinate against six different diseases at once?

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Vaccines + Back to School

It’s August, which means the kids are headed back to school here in the US. It also means it’s time to dig into your savings for pens, paper, clothing, tablets, headphones, computers…3D printers…centrifuge…microscope…  I kid, but it does seem like they need a whole lot as years progress. The days of pencils, notebooks, and protractors are done.

I’m sure you’re making dents in your school lists, but did you remember to get those current physical and vaccine records? You all know I don’t care about pens; I’m The Vaccine Mom so I’m reminding you that it’s important to stay up-to-date on your children’s vaccines. And how perfect because August not only marks the beginning of the new school year in the US but it’s also National Immunization Awareness Month! 

If you’ve had your kids in school before (or just out in the world), you know how easily they spread and contract germs. I like to call my children “my little Petri dishes,” and I think that’s very fitting. There are lots of coughs, sore throats, and colds coming this year, and that’s just life, but there are some things you can prevent.  I’m talking the vaccine-preventable stuff–the nasty stuff. 

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Scared of needles?

Believe it or not, I once had a fear of needles. Many years ago when I was a child I instinctively swatted the nurse giving me an injection causing the needle to scrape all the way down my arm. That’s something that stuck with me all the way into my young adult years.

I think a lot of us have an innate fear of needles. If you didn’t know better would you hold out our arm and let someone pierce it with a sharp object? I don’t think so. So if the thought of doing so makes you weak in the knees then know that you most definitely aren’t alone.

How did I get past my fear? First off, I desensitized myself by giving injections. Second, I learned everything I could about vaccine-preventable diseases, which helped to remind myself that injections are important. And third, I had babies and that meant injections, blood draws, and IVs galore on top of everything else.

Injections are still unpleasant but definitely not unbearable. I’m not going to ever say that you’re going to be happy about getting stuck with a needle, but I think I can help you to tolerate the experience with minimal freakout.

Here are some ways to help you cope:

Read moreScared of needles?