At Johns Hopkins Children’s Center Medical School, Dr Swathi Gowtham’s teachers, who were infectious disease physicians, told his class that they used to see children with bacterial meningitis both. days.
“When I was training, due to the Haemophilus flu shots and strep pneumonia (which can cause meningitis), I would see a child every few months,” said Gowtham, pediatric infectious disease specialist at Geisinger. “And that’s what the vaccinations did.”
Over the past year, many of us have delayed regular medical checkups, but with COVID-19 cases declining, summer can be a good time to make sure we’re catching up on our vaccinations.
“The pandemic has reduced visits to doctors’ offices, so we should take advantage of the summer to catch up and see our doctor to make sure not only that we are not missing out on vaccinations, but also important health screenings. “said Gowtham.
We all know that we are supposed to get vaccines against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (pertussis) every 10 years. But honestly, after school is over, most of us forget about vaccines – how important are they in keeping us healthy?
“These vaccines do a great job of preventing not only the disease, but also its complicated side effects,” said Sonia Reich, nurse practitioner at Family Medicine of Evangelical – Milton. “The problem with many diseases that vaccines prevent is that I don’t know if you are going to develop a mild case of the disease or a more complicated case that might even have long term effects.”
Many adults, for reasonable reasons, don’t go to the doctor regularly, so they tend to forget about vaccinations, said Dr Robin Spangler, UPMC Primary Care – Lewisburg.
“But as people get older and their immune system, like everything else in the body, slows down and doesn’t work as well, it’s important to get vaccinated against pneumonia, flu and shingles,” he said. she said, adding with shingles, “I tell people that it is not fatal for the most part, but it is very painful and can have serious consequences.
It’s easy to ignore preventative vaccines like DTaP, but we would regret it if we developed tetanus, which is prevalent in the soil, Gowtham said. Tetanus toxins spread throughout the body, producing paralytic symptoms with very tight muscles and severe pain, usually resulting in the patient being admitted to intensive care.
“It’s incredibly rare, thanks to vaccinations,” Gowtham said. “But it’s very, very important so that people (can) stay out of the hospital.”
Fear of vaccines
When vaccines for diseases like polio and smallpox were created, people rolled up their sleeves in gratitude for the vaccines.
“People were eager to get vaccinated against smallpox and polio because they saw firsthand how devastating these diseases were, and they decided they didn’t want it for themselves or their communities. “said Reich.
Today, however, with so much information and misinformation, some people fear and avoid vaccinations, especially when it comes to autism spectrum disorders.
“I know people are afraid of vaccinations,” Spangler said. “There really isn’t any evidence to back it up. Study after study, the safety of the vaccine has been demonstrated.
Several years ago, a study appeared to involve the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine in children diagnosed with autism, “but it has been proven wrong time and time again,” Spangler said. “There is no association between vaccination and autism.”
The attitude of society towards science, government and medicine also affects decisions about vaccination.
“I think in general our society has become suspicious of anything that comes out of government, and I think vaccines are just another of those things,” Spangler said.
“The vaccines themselves are considered a triumph of modern medicine,” Gowtham said. “(But) vaccines are victims of their own success in that people don’t remember what measles looked like, and people don’t remember what polio and smallpox looked like. and because of this, they are more concerned about some rare side effects. But in general, vaccines are really safe. “
Parents weighing the risks and benefits of vaccinations for their children might feel better with the passive decision to do nothing, to let the virus run its course, rather than the active decision to choose a vaccine, which could lead to the effects. side effects of a fever or rash.
“Parents need to realize that if they don’t get their children immunized appropriately, it also has consequences,” Gowtham said. “And that presents potentially higher risks.”
She pointed out that 200 children die each year from the flu, children who had not been vaccinated or who were too young to be vaccinated. Vaccines therefore protect a community by slowing the spread of the disease and possibly preventing it from reaching more vulnerable populations.
If people stop getting vaccinated, diseases like whooping cough and pertussis could once again become common in our communities, Reich said, pointing to a measles outbreak in Williamsport a few years ago that was attributed to a bus from tour passing and stopping in the area.
“The idea that I want people to think about when getting vaccinated is that it’s a very kind thing that they can do for their community,” she said. “It protects you, but it also protects people who cannot get vaccinated. “
Vaccines in children
For schoolchildren, the PA Ministry of Health recommends:
- At the start of kindergarten: DTaP (Diphtheria, Tetanus, Whooping cough), polio, MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), hepatitis B, chickenpox.
- At the start of grades 7 and 12: Meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV).
With the success of vaccines, many ancient childhood illnesses are rarely seen today, and some parents have become complacent about them, forgetting how serious they can be, Spangler said.
“So you hear more about the potential side effects, real or imagined, of vaccinations,” she said. “People think vaccines are scarier than disease. “
She recalled her mother talking about the closure of community swimming pools during polio outbreaks.
“It’s hard to make people understand how serious this can be,” she said. “I have never seen a case of polio. I can’t imagine how bad such things would be.
One of the best things parents can do is find a healthcare provider they trust and can turn to for all their concerns.
“If they’re struggling and don’t feel comfortable, they should be having a conversation with their health care provider,” Gowtham said. “I feel like if we don’t vaccinate we could end up backing down and really hurting the kids who are otherwise supposed to grow and thrive.”
“I think parents are just trying to do the best they can for their kids. I am the same, ”said Reich. “I am never upset when people want more information or have questions when it comes to their health or that of their loved ones. “
Cindy O. Herman lives in Snyder County. Email your comments to [email protected]