Prevention . . .
Immunization update time for kids is now — beat the back-to-school rush
From the Washington State Department of Health
While kids across Washington are squeezing every ounce of fun out of summer, many parents are already looking forward to the beginning of the school year and planning for all that must be done before the first day of school.
Now is the time to get kids in to see their health care providers for required immunizations, yearly well-child checks, and sports physicals. Families can cut down on back-to-school stress by getting the right immunizations for their students well before school starts. Students who aren’t in compliance with required vaccines may be kept out of school if a disease epidemic occurs.
Parents can find the immunization requirements to start school and attend child care online. There are new changes to the requirements this year for the chicken pox vaccine. It’s also important that kids are current on their whooping cough shots. The disease is spreading in Washington and everyone can play a part in stopping it. Continue reading
From Washington State Department of Health
Tragic outcome for immunocompromised patient shows need for community protection
The death of a Clallam County woman this spring was due to an undetected measles infection that was discovered at autopsy.
The woman was most likely exposed to measles at a local medical facility during a recent outbreak in Clallam County.
She was there at the same time as a person who later developed a rash and was contagious for measles.
The woman had several other health conditions and was on medications that contributed to a suppressed immune system.
The last confirmed measles death in the United States was reported in 2003.
This tragic situation illustrates the importance of immunizing as many people as possible to provide a high level of community protection against measles. Continue reading
On Tuesday, Gov. Jerry Brown of California signed into law a requirement that nearly all children be vaccinated in order to attend school.
With the stroke of a pen, California went from being a state with relatively lax vaccination rules to one of the most strict in the country — joining Mississippi and West Virginia as states where even exemptions for religious beliefs are not allowed.
As the bill worked its way through the legislative process, it faced strong, consistent, vocal opposition from some parents, including a small group of protesters who stood vigil outside the Capitol in Sacramento for days before it was clear Brown would sign the bill.
The protesters are passionate, inflamed mainly by discredited beliefs that vaccines are linked to autism. But opposition to vaccines is far from new. Continue reading
Only 83% of kindergarten students in Washington state arrive in the fall up-to-date on their immunizations, the Washington State Department of Health report.
This is well below the target goal of 95%, the level that is usually sufficient to halt the spread of infectious diseases such as measles through a community. None of the individual vaccines required for school meet this goal.
The low vaccination rate is of particular concern in light of recent outbreaks of measles and whooping cough, diseases which can be prevented with timely vaccination, health officials said.
About one in twenty, 4.5%, Washington state kindergarten students opted out of vaccinations due to medical, personal, or religious reasons. Washington has historically had high exemption rates for kindergarteners. Although exemption rates have come down since they peaked in 2008, but the improvement has leveled-off for the past few years.
In Washington, all recommended vaccines are available at no cost for kids through age 18 from health care providers across the state.
Although providers may charge an office visit fee and an administration fee for the vaccine, a family that can’t afford to pay can ask their regular provider to waive the administration fee.
For help finding a health care provider or an immunization clinic, call your local health agency, visit the ParentHelp123 resource finder, or call the Family Health Hotline at 1-800-322-2588.
Before you travel internationally, ensure that you are up to date on all your routine vaccines, as well as travel vaccines.
More and more Americans are travelling internationally each year. Today more than a third of Americans have a passport. It is important to remember that some types of international travel, especially to developing countries and rural areas, have higher health risks.
These risks depend on a number of things including:
- Where you are traveling
- Your activities while traveling
- Your current health status
- Your vaccination history
Measles and International Travel
Each year, unvaccinated people get measles while in other countries and bring it to the United States. This has sometimes led to outbreaks. The majority of measles cases brought into the U.S. come from U.S. residents. When we can identify vaccine status, almost all are unvaccinated.
Vaccination is the best protection against measles. Before leaving for trips abroad, make sure you and your family are protected against measles. Plan ahead and check with your doctor to see if you and your family need MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine.
Preventive Services Covered Under the Affordable Care A
If you have a new health insurance plan or insurance policy beginning on or after September 23, 2010, the following preventive services must be covered without your having to pay a copayment or co-insurance or meet your deductible. This applies only when these services are delivered by a network provider.
- Covered Preventive Services for Adults
- Covered Preventive Services for Women, Including Pregnant Women
- Covered Preventive Services for Children
But vaccination still the best tool for protection, health officials say
From the Washington State Department of Health:
A new study shows that whooping cough vaccinations wear off over time, but they’re still the best protection against the dangerous disease.
The study, released in the May edition of the journal Pediatrics, used data from the 2012 whooping cough epidemic in Washington.
The article, entitled “Tdap Vaccine Effectiveness in Adolescents During the 2012 Washington State Pertussis Epidemic” is one of the first studies to test how long the adolescent and adult (Tdap) whooping cough vaccines are effective.
The investigation analyzed vaccine histories of 11- to 19-year-olds who contracted whooping cough — also called pertussis == during the 2012 epidemic.
For each case, researchers also looked at the vaccine histories of three adolescents that didn’t have whooping cough but were the same age and went to the same doctor.
While whooping cough vaccines are the best form of defense against the disease, the study found that much of the protection from the Tdap vaccine may wear off after two to four years.
State officials say the study shows that Tdap is most effective in its first year, underscoring the importance of high-risk individuals and pregnant women getting vaccinated. Continue reading
It took 15 years and hundreds of millions of vaccines. But North America and South America have officially eradicated rubella, health authorities said Wednesday. Rubella, also known as German measles, is only the third virus eradicated from people in the Western Hemisphere.
There have been a total of 387 cases of whooping cough reported statewide so far this year, compared to 85 reported cases during the same time period last year, the Washington State Department of Health reports.
Newborns and infants, who cannot be immunized against the disease, are at greatest risk of serious complications. To date, 25 infants under one year of age were reported as having whooping cough and six of them were hospitalized. Of these hospitalized infants, five (83%) were three months of age or younger.
How to protect infants from whooping cough – CDC
Because the disease can make babies so sick, and they can catch it from anyone around them, they need protection. These are the three important ways you can help protect them with vaccines:
- If you are pregnant, get vaccinated with the whooping cough vaccine in your third trimester.
- Surround your baby with family members and caregivers who are up-to-date with their whooping cough vaccine.
- Make sure your baby gets all his doses of the whooping cough vaccine according to CDC’s recommended schedule.
Whooping cough fact sheet from the Department of Health
Public Health – Seattle & King County
If you knew there was a vaccine that could prevent several types of cancer—including a form of cancer that kills over 250,000 women each year—would you make sure your child gets it?
- An estimated 79 million Americans are infected with Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) that causes a range of cancers, as well as genital warts.
- HPV is so common that most females and males will become infected with at least one type of HPV in their lifetime.
But there is some incredibly good news: the HPV vaccine prevents infections from HPV, and an updated HPV vaccine protects against more than twice the number of strains of HPV than the previous version.
Yes, this vaccine prevents cancer. Continue reading
From the National Institutes of Health
Poor quality medicines are a real and urgent threat that could undermine decades of successful efforts to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, according to the editors of a collection of journal articles published today.
Scientists report up to 41 percent of specimens failed to meet quality standards in global studies of about 17,000 drug samples.
Among the collection is an article describing the discovery of falsified and substandard malaria drugs that caused an estimated 122,350 deaths in African children in 2013. Other studies identified poor quality antibiotics, which may harm health and increase antimicrobial resistance.
However, new methodologies are being developed to detect problem drugs at the point of purchase and show some promise, scientists say. Continue reading
From the Snohomish Health District
Cases of whooping cough in Snohomish County on the rise
In a trend consistent with information released by the Washington State Department of Health, the number of whooping cough (pertussis) cases in Snohomish County is increasing.
Since January, there have been 40 confirmed cases and most of which have been in the last few weeks. This compares to just 57 and 23 cases in all of 2013 and 2014 respectively.
Pregnancy changes the immune system in mothers, and waiting until delivery to administer the vaccine still puts the newborn at risk.
Of the 40 cases in our county, nearly three-quarters have been students between the ages of 6 and 18. This is not surprising given the close quarters students keep during the school day.
“We are seeing an explosion of pertussis cases statewide and locally,” said Dr. Gary Goldbaum, health officer and director at the Snohomish Health District. “Thankfully we are not at the epidemic levels last seen in 2012, and I am hopeful that by all of us doing our part, we can spare Snohomish County from a repeat.” Continue reading