Sep
05
2008

Hit 'em with your best shot(s)

We're back in business here at the Science Museum (although the building is still closed to the public until next Friday), just in time to report some good news.

Ouch: Taking one for the team?
Ouch: Taking one for the team?Courtesy Spamily

The CDC reported yesterday that 77.4% of US children between the ages of 19 months and three years received all their recommended vaccinations in 2007. That's a slight improvement over the 2006 statistic. There are big regional variations in coverage, and children living below the poverty line are slightly less likely to be fully vaccinated, but overall less than 1% of US kids received no immunizations at all.

What are the recommended shots?

  • Four or more doses of diphtheria, tetanus toxoid, and any acellular pertussis vaccine, or DTaP
  • Three or more doses of polio vaccine
  • At least one dose of measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine
  • At least three doses of Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccine
  • At least three doses of hepatitis B vaccine
  • At least one dose of varicella vaccine

Some folks don't vaccinate their kids--particularly against measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR)--because they worry that the vaccine is linked to autism. That theory has been debunked many times, in many countries, but it persists. On Wednesday, researchers from Columbia University and the CDC offered up another study showing zero causal relationship between the MMR vaccine and autism (or gastrointestinal problems.) So kids, roll up your sleeves at those back-to-school physicals and get your shots. It sucks, but it beats getting measles.

On the other hand, evidence is mounting to show that flu shots don't work well to protect people over 70. Older people have a lesser immune response to the vaccine and don't develop as much immunity. But the very old and the very young also account for the highest number of flu deaths. So what to do? According to the NT Times article:

"Dr. Simonsen, the epidemiologist at George Washington, said the new research made common-sense infection-control measures — like avoiding other sick people and frequent hand washing — more important than ever. Still, she added, “The vaccine is still important. Thirty percent protection is better than zero percent.”

Another way to protect the elderly is to vaccinate preschoolers. Not only are they likely to pick up the flu before other members of the family, but there's some evidence that preschoolers are actually the drivers of annual influenza outbreaks. Stop the flu in young kids, and you might just stop it for everyone else, too.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Dolores Lowe's picture
Dolores Lowe says:

So if influenza vaccinations is so important how comes Insurance companies do not cover it for kids espcially when they are expoused in public schools?

posted on Sun, 09/14/2008 - 3:53pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Flu shots given to pregnant women seem to protect their babies from influenza and a few other respiratory illnesses after birth. That's significant, because influenza vaccines aren't currently licensed for children under six months old, and the very young and the very old are typically the groups that experience the most flu complications and deaths.

posted on Thu, 09/18/2008 - 10:10am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Why don't insurence companies cover all this?

posted on Fri, 10/17/2008 - 1:54pm
coolo panda's picture
coolo panda says:

that must have hurt

posted on Fri, 11/14/2008 - 12:23pm
Sydney's picture
Sydney says:

That is so sad!!! Two huge shots on one little newborn!

posted on Fri, 11/28/2008 - 9:27pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I honestly hope that you get though your illness so hope you feel better

To whom it concerns

posted on Fri, 12/12/2008 - 11:46am
bworm's picture
bworm says:

wow thats really sad

posted on Thu, 12/18/2008 - 2:25pm

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