Measles Outbreaks Highlight the Importance of Vaccines

Measles outbreak

Most parents of school-age kids are way too young to recall how prevalent measles was in its heyday. A very serious, highly contagious respiratory disease that affects the lungs and respiratory tract, measles affected 3 to 4 million people in the United States each year before vaccination began in 1963. Back then, measles — which can be passed on through a cough or sneeze — put 48,000 people in the hospital and killed 500 people annually.

With vaccinations routinely given to children for the past 55 years, it’s easy to assume that measles has been totally wiped out. Unfortunately, as more children in school show up without being vaccinated, measles outbreaks have popped up more frequently. Just this year, more than 100 cases have been confirmed in 21 states — especially in Washington and Oregon – with most cases diagnosed in children who have not had the routine MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine.

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Straight to the Point: Vaccinations for Your Teenager

Overheard in clinic last week (and a variation of this statement is heard at least once every single week… ): Parent says to the teen, “If you keep mouthing off, I’ll tell the doctor to give you shots.” No. Not appropriate to use the threats of vaccines as punishment.

We get it – nobody likes shots, not kids, not parents, and certainly not teenagers.  When we see teenagers in clinic for their sports physicals or annual physicals, it is not uncommon for one or multiple vaccinations to be recommended.  “BUT I thought I was done with vaccinations”, they protest – their eyes get wide, then they narrow – “I have an important basketball game tomorrow” or “I’m feeling kind of sick”.  You will get no argument from your health care team that vaccines aren’t very fun, but let’s talk about the vaccinations recommended in the teenage years and why they are so important for your child’s health!

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Parent’s Guide to Pain Prevention

Does this situation sound familiar?

“You have a doctor appointment for a check-up today after school.”

“Am I going to get a shot? I hate shots. I don’t think I want to go to the doctor today.”

Before the age of 2 years old, the CDC recommends children receive 24 immunizations. While this sounds like a lot of shots, and it is, immunizations are one of the Public Health initiatives that have resulted prevention of the most deaths and disability early in life.

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Guys and HPV – it’s not just about protecting the girls!

Women get a lot of attention in the human papillomavirus (HPV) world. Maybe too much emphasis is put on women. I recently heard from a loved one that her son’s pediatrician didn’t really recommend the HPV vaccine for boys since it’s “really a public health thing” that’s “more for girls’ protection than anything.” Well, that’s not true, and a study that came out this week demonstrates this. According to the study, about 11.5% of American men are infected with the oral form of HPV (vs 3.2% of women).

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