All You Need is a Shot of Courage

Dear Mr. Dad: I am currently deployed and going to miss the birth of my first. As such, my wife and I decided to hire a doula. We found one and really like her, but unfortunately, she is not vaccinated, nor are her own children. We spoke to my wife’s OB who says there is a very slim chance of anything happening, but there is a chance. How much should we be concerned?

A: A lot. I think it’s a big mistake to go with a doula who doesn’t vaccinate herself or her children.

If your wife has been vaccinated and breastfeeds your baby, her immunity will most likely protect the baby. But we’re talking about a newborn here. Is “most likely protected” or “a slim chance of anything happening” good enough? It wouldn’t be for me–especially when you can reduce the risk to almost zero.
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Vaccine Refusals among Factors Associated with 2010 Pertussis Outbreak in California

whooping cough

There’s been a disturbing anti-vaccine trend in recent years. And while there are possible side effects to vaccines, the risks associated with not being vaccinated are far, far worse. This article, in the latest edition of the journal Pediatrics illustrates what happens when parents don’t vaccinate their children against whooping cough (pertussis). The study uses data from 2010. This year, whooping cough outbreaks have resulted in the deaths of many children. If your children–or you–haven’t been vaccinated, get it done now.

In 2010, 9,120 cases of pertussis – or whooping cough – were reported in California, the most since 1947. Several causes of the outbreak have been documented, including waning immunity of the acellular pertussis vaccine. A new study in the October 2013 Pediatrics examines the role of clusters of individuals who refused the vaccine. The study, “Nonmedical Vaccine Exemptions and Pertussis in California, 2010,” published online Sept. 30, analyzes non-medical exemptions for children entering kindergarten from 2005 through 2010, and pertussis cases that were diagnosed in 2010 in California. Researchers identified 39 statistically significant clusters of high rates of non-medical exemptions, and 2 statistically significant clusters of pertussis cases. Census tracks within an exemption cluster were 2.5 times more likely to be in a pertussis cluster. With highly infectious diseases like measles and pertussis, it is estimated that more than 95 percent of the population must be immunized to prevent outbreaks and to reduce the risk of the disease for those too young to be vaccinated or unable to receive vaccines. Study authors conclude that communities with large numbers of unvaccinated or under-vaccinated people can lead to pertussis outbreaks, putting vulnerable populations like young infants at increased risk.

Human Oral Papillomavirus—Now There’s a Real Mouthful

Now let’s be clear. Michael Douglas is not a doctor, nor does he play one on TV. But when he recently blamed his bout with throat cancer on having contracted Human Papillomavirus (HPV) from performing oral sex, he may have been on to something. In fact, according to the Oral Cancer Foundation, HPV may be [...]

Childhood Vaccines and Herd Immunity: Why They’re So Important

childhood vaccines save lives and are safe

Last month, a 6-week old baby in Florida died from whooping cough. The death was completely preventable and is a tragic illustration of just how important childhood vaccines are–to all of us.
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On the Fence about Whether Your Kids Should Have Flu Shots? Just Do It—Now

flu shotBetween August 1, 2004 and May 5, 2012, 829 children in the US died from the flu, according to a new study by researchers at the CDC. And a third of those kids died within three days after symptoms first appeared. Unfortunately, by then it’s often too late. The solution? Make sure your kids get a flu shot. Not getting one is putting their lives at risk.
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