August is National Immunization month and what better time than now to make sure your baby, child, tween, teen or even adults are immunized. With all of the news surrounding pertussis (whooping cough) outbreaks across the country, and now measles in several states, the importance of vaccinating is paramount.
Vaccines have been proven to prevent disease. But in order for vaccines to be effective the majority of the population must be protected. By vaccinating upwards of 90% of the population the entire “herd” community is protected. When vaccine rates dip below this threshold a disease such as measles or whooping cough can cause illness, not just isolated to one person, but spread to those who have not been immunized or to those who have lapsed immunizations and whose immunity has lessened. This scenario seems to be part of the case for pertussis as the adult population had not been vaccinated against pertussis for many years. It is now evident and recommended that adults as well as children receive a booster dose of pertussis in the form of a TdaP vaccine. That means ALL adults.
As summer comes to an end, I know that winter illnesses and busy pediatric offices are just around the corner. Parents ask me everyday, why does my child get a cold or a cough, or a fever and vomiting?? That is because we do not “yet” have vaccine for the common cold or for norovirus or enterovirus or adenovirus. Those vaccines may be available one day. BUT, we do have vaccines for rotavirus (winter time vomiting and diarrhea), measles, chickenpox, and FLU!
Great news is that the flu vaccine for 2013-2014 is now quadrivalent, which means that there are 4 strains of flu in the vaccine (2 for flu A and 2 for flu B). This should provide even greater protection.
So, as you are getting all of your kids ready for school and immunized think ahead about flu vaccine as well. It is already arriving in our office and we will be vaccinating all fall in hopes of keeping more illness away this winter. The best protection against disease continues to be vaccines - spread the word, not the disease.