All of the diseases that children are currently immunized against have experienced very significant declines in infection rates. Vaccines have been so successful that many of these illnesses are virtually non-existent in the United States. But out of sight should not mean out of mind. Immunizations are essential to continue the eradication of these vaccine-preventable diseases. Many experiences have shown that when immunization rates drop, these diseases can reemerge, and unnecessary deaths will occur.
- Pediarix – is a combination vaccine that combines the DtaP, IPV, and Hepatitis B into one vaccine.
- DTaP – protects your child from diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (whooping cough)
- IPV – protects your child from paralytic polio. Currently, an inactivated polio vaccine is used in the United States. This vaccine is incapable of causing polio symptoms itself, and is safe for people with compromised immune systems.
- Prevnar – protects your child from invasive disease caused by pneumococcus bacteria… including meningitis and pneumonia.
- Hib – protects your child from invasive disease caused by Haemophilus influenza, type B bacteria… including meningitis. These bacteria can also cause other life-threatening infections of the eye and epiglottis.
- Varivax – protects your child from serious chicken pox infections and helps to prevent complications of chicken pox including pneumonia and infections of the brain.
- MMR – protects your child from measles, mumps, and rubella (german measles).
- Td – boosts your child’s protection against tetanus and diphtheria.
- Havrix (Hep A) – The Hep A vaccine protects children from Hepatitis A, a viral illness that damages the liver,… resulting in fever, vomiting, abdominal pain and jaundice. Two doses of the vaccine will provide long-term protection against this painful disease.
- HepB – The Hepatitis B vaccine is given
to newborns in the hospital to prevent transmission of Hepatitis
B from mother to infant. Some mothers don’t know they are
carriers of Hepatitis B, and a large percentage of these
mothers would transmit Hepatitis to their infants.
Subsequent doses of the vaccine are administered as part
of the Pediarix vaccine, and will confer life-long immunity
to older infants and children.
- Menactra – is a vaccine that protects against Meningococcal meningitis, the most common form of meningitis affecting teenagers. Although uncommon in teenagers, meningitis is rapidly progressive and difficult to treat. It is now recommended that all teenagers receive this meningitis vaccine before entering junior high school, high school, or college.
- Diphtheria is a respiratory illness that causes a membrane to form in the back of a child’s throat causing severe respiratory distress and often death. Although virtually eliminated in the United States, some countries (such as the former soviet republics) experienced epidemics of diphtheria when they stopped immunizing their children against it, resulting in the deaths of thousands of children.
- Pertussis is also known as whooping cough. Although a fairly mild illness in adults, it is deadly to young infants. As children approach adulthood, immunity against pertussis wanes. Adults may therefore act as unwilling reservoirs of infection to un-immunized or under-immunized infants!
- Tetanus is also known as lockjaw, because it is characterized by uncontrollable contractions of body muscles, especially the jaw. It results from a toxin produced by bacteria that can infect dirty wounds. Immunity wanes with time so repeated doses are needed throughout life to protect against this deadly infection!
- Polio is a virus still problematic in some countries of the world, where it can cause paralysis and even death. Widely heralded as a miracle of modern health care, the polio vaccine has saved millions of children’s lives.
- Hib – Haemophilus influenza, type B is an invasive bacterium that can cause a variety of deadly diseases including meningitis, epiglottitis (swelling in the back of the throat), and serious eye infections.
- Pneumococcus is another invasive bacteria that can cause meningitis, pneumonia, as well as serious infections of the blood.
- Varicella, also known as chicken pox, is generally a benign illness, but can be quite serious. Children of any age can develop encephalitis (swelling of the brain), pneumonia, or serious skin infections from this virus. Although rare, these complications can result in death.
- Measles – is a highly contagious viral infection that causes fever, rash, cough, and red eyes. Some cases result in encephalitis (swelling of the brain) and even death. Because this disease is so contagious, a large percentage of the population needs to be immunized to protect the community as a whole. Some children do not obtain complete immunity after a single immunization. A few years ago, immunization rates against measles dropped in both the United States and certain parts of Europe. Because of this decline in immunizations, measles outbreaks occurred in Great Britain and Ireland, resulting in several children’s deaths. Recently, immunization rates in Great Britain have returned to safe levels (above 95%) and measles infections have correspondingly declined.
- Mumps is another contagious viral infection causing swelling of the parotid (salivary) glands. Other manifestations include testicular swelling in boys, and meningitis/encephalitis (swelling of the brain).
- Rubella, or German Measles, is a virus that causes a rash similar to measles. Although the illness is usually benign, exposure to rubella during pregnancy can result in spontaneous abortions or severe birth defects.
- Hepatitis A – is a viral disease most often transmitted
through contaminated food products. The disease causes its’
sufferers to become quite ill with fever, vomitting, abdominal
pain, weight loss and jaundice (resulting from liver damage). The
illness can last several weeks and require prolonged hospitalization.
- Hepatitis B is a virus that can lead to
chronic liver failure and death. It is transmitted
through blood and body fluids and has a very high
transmission rate from mothers to newborns.
- Meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain. It can be caused by several different viruses and bacteria. Bacterial meningitis is generally more severe than viral meningitis and is often fatal. Because meningitis progresses quickly, there is often little warning that a patient is becoming very sick. It is also difficult to treat. Currently, children are immunized against three different types of meningitis… Prevnar and HiB vaccines are given to infants, and Menactra is given to teenagers to protect children at the ages that they are considered at most risk.
Do You Know?
All of the diseases that children are currently immunized against have experienced very significant declines in infection rates. Vaccines have been so successful that many of these illnesses are virtually non-existent in the United States. But out of sight should not mean out of mind. Immunizations are essential to continue the eradication of these vaccine-preventable diseases. Many experience have shown that when immunization rates drop, these diseases can reemerge, and unneccessary deaths will occur.