Wellness Wednesday: Are Vaccinations on your back-to-school list?

VaccinationAll school-age children, from preschoolers to college students, need vaccines. The CDC has online resources and tools to help parents and doctors make sure all kids are up to date on recommended vaccines and protected from serious diseases.

What All Parents Need To Know

Making sure that children of all ages receive all their vaccinations on time is one of the most important things you can do as a parent to ensure your children’s long-term health—as well as the health of friends, classmates and others in your community.

To keep children in schools healthy, your state may require children going to school to be vaccinated against certain diseases, such as pertussis (whooping cough). If you’re unsure of your state’s school requirements, now is the time to check with your child’s doctor, your child’s school, or your health department. That way, you can get your child any vaccines he  or she needs before the back-to-school rush.

Immunization Requirements for Child Care and School

The CDC does not set immunization requirements for schools or child care centers. Instead, each state decides which immunizations are required for your child’s enrollment and attendance at a child care facility or school in that state.

  • Talk to a staff member to learn what vaccines are required at the school or child care facility in which you would like to enroll your child. They will be able to provide you with specific information about their requirements.
  • If you would like to know your state’s immunization requirements, contact your State’s Immunization Program or Department of Health.
  • CDC also has a tool to help find more information about your state’s school vaccination requirements. (Select your state under “Grantee” options, your child’s level, and click “Get Results” to view your state vaccination requirements.)

BackToSchool

Disease Outbreaks Still Happen

It’s true that some vaccine-preventable diseases have become very rare thanks to vaccines. However, cases and outbreaks still happen. In 2014, the United States experienced a record number of measles cases. From January 1 to August 1, 2014, there were 593 cases of measles reported in the U.S., with 18 outbreaks of this disease. From January 1 to June 16, 2014, almost 10,000 cases of whooping cough were reported to CDC by 50 states and Washington, D.C. These numbers represent a 24 percent increase compared with the same time period in 2013.

Outbreaks of whooping cough at middle and high schools can occur as protection from childhood vaccines fades. Those who are vaccinated against whooping cough but still get the disease are much more likely to have a mild illness compared to those who never received the vaccine.

Making sure your children stay up to date with vaccinations is the best way to protect your communities and schools from outbreaks that can cause unnecessary illnesses and deaths.

Vaccines for Your Young Children (Newborns through 6 years old)

2014 Recommended Immunizations for Children from Birth Through 6

During the early years of life, your children need vaccines to protect them from 14 diseases that can be serious, even life-threatening. Parents who choose not to vaccinate their children increase the risk of disease not only for their own children, but also for other children and adults throughout the entire community. For example, vulnerable newborns too young to have received the maximum protection from the recommended doses of vaccines or people with weakened immune systems, such as some people with cancer and transplant recipients, are also at higher risk of disease.

Flu vaccines are recommended for kids in preschool and elementary school to help keep them healthy. In fact, all children 6 months and older should get flu vaccines. Getting all of your children vaccinated—as well as other family members and caregivers—can help protect infants younger than 6 months old. Ask your family’s doctor or nurse about getting flu shots or the nasal spray to protect against flu.

Parents can find out what vaccines their children need and when the doses should be given by reviewing CDC’s recommended Childhood Immunization Schedule.

Vaccines for Your Preteens and Teens (7 years old through 18 years old)

2015 Recommended Immunizations for Children from 7 Through 18 Ye

Preteens and teens need vaccines, too! As kids get older, they are still at risk for certain diseases. Before heading back to school, three vaccines are recommend for 11-12 year olds—HPV, Tdap, and meningococcal conjugate vaccine—for continued protection.

HPV vaccine is important because it can prevent HPV infections that can cause cancer later in life. For other diseases, like whooping cough, the protection from vaccine doses received in childhood fades over time. That’s why 11–12 year-olds are also recommended to get the booster shot called Tdap to help protect them from whooping cough, tetanus, and diphtheria. Meningococcal conjugate vaccine helps prevent two of the three most common causes of meningococcal disease, which can be very serious—even life-threatening.

It’s important to know that flu can be serious, even for healthy, young people. Preteens and teens are no exception. So older kids should get at least one flu vaccine every year.

To learn more about vaccines for your preteens and teens, talk to your child’s healthcare provider or visit the CDC’s preteen and teen vaccine pages. If your preteens or teens haven’t already gotten their vaccines, you should get them caught up as soon as possible.

The Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program offers vaccines at no cost for eligible children through doctors enrolled in the program. Find out if your child qualifies.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Wellness Wednesday: Preventing Measles Breakouts with Vaccination

Measles is the most deadly of all childhood rash/fever illnesses. The disease spreads very easily, so it is important to protect against infection.

VaccineTo prevent measles, children (and some adults) should be vaccinated with the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. Two doses of this vaccine are needed for complete protection. Children should be given the first dose of MMR vaccine at 12 to 15 months of age. The second dose can be given four (4) weeks later, but is usually given before the start of kindergarten at 4 to 6 years of age.

Measles starts with a fever. Soon after, it causes a cough, runny nose and red eyes. Then a rash of tiny, red spots breaks out. It starts at the head and spreads to the rest of the body. Measles can lead to pneumonia, encephalitis (swelling of the brain), and death. Measles spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It is so contagious that if one person has it, 90% of the people around him or her will also become infected if they are not protected.

People in the U.S. still get measles, but it’s not very common because most people in this country are protected against measles through vaccination. However, measles is still common in other parts of the world, including many countries in Europe, Asia, the Pacific and Africa. Every year, unvaccinated people get measles while they are abroad and bring the disease into the U.S. and spread it to others.

Measles can spread quickly in communities where people are not vaccinated. Children and anyone else who is not protected against measles is at risk of getting infected. That’s why it is so important to be up to date on vaccinations, including before traveling abroad.

Measles

Protect your Child with Measles Vaccine

You can protect your child against measles with a combination vaccine that provides protection against three diseases: measles, mumps and rubella (MMR). The MMR vaccine is proven to be very safe and effective. CDC recommends that children get two doses:

  • the first dose at 12 through 15 months of age, and
  • the second dose before entering school at 4 through 6 years of age.

Your child’s doctor may offer the MMRV vaccine, which protects against measles, mumps, rubella and varicella (chickenpox). MMRV vaccine is licensed for children 12 months through 12 years of age. It may be used in place of MMR vaccine if a child needs to have varicella vaccine in addition to measles, mumps and rubella vaccines. Your child’s doctor can help you decide which vaccine to use.

Make Sure Your Child is Protected Before Traveling Abroad

VaccineChildren six (6) months of age and older should be protected against measles before they travel abroad.

  • Infants six (6) months through 11 months of age should have one dose of measles vaccine. Infants who get one dose of measles vaccine before their first birthday should get two more doses of the vaccine (one dose at 12 through 15 months of age and another dose at least 28 days later).
  • Children 12 months of age or older should have two doses separated by at least 28 days.

Talk with your child’s doctor to see if he or she should be vaccinated before traveling abroad.

Some teens and adults need measles vaccine too. For more information, see Measles Vaccination: Who Needs It?

infographic-measles-contagious.png

Paying for Measles Vaccine

Most health insurance plans cover the cost of vaccines. But you may want to check with your health insurance provider before going to the doctor. Learn how to pay for vaccines.

If you don’t have insurance or if your insurance does not cover vaccines for your child, the Vaccines for Children Program may be able to help. This program helps families of eligible children who might not otherwise have access to vaccines. To find out if your child is eligible, visit the VFC website or ask your child’s doctor. You can also contact your state VFC coordinator.

Helpful documents:

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


More Information:

Diseases and the vaccines that prevent them: measles

Measles Elimination

Measles CDC Fact Sheet

Measles Infographic

Wellness Wednesday: Teens and the meningococcal vaccine

Why does my child need meningococcal vaccine?

meningococcalMeningococcal vaccines help protect against the bacteria that cause meningococcal disease. These infections don’t happen very often, but can be very dangerous when they do. Meningococcal disease refers to any illness that is caused by Neisseria meningitidis bacteria. The two most severe and common illnesses caused by these bacteria include infections of the fluid and lining around the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) and bloodstream infections (bacteremia or septicemia). Even if they get treatment, about 1 in 10 people with meningococcal disease will die from it.

Meningococcal disease can spread from person to person. The bacteria that cause this infection can spread when people have close or lengthy contact with someone’s saliva, like through kissing or coughing, especially if they are living in the same place. Teens and young adults are at increased risk for meningococcal disease.

Meningococcal disease can become very serious, very quickly. The meningococcal vaccine is the best way to protect teens from getting meningococcal disease.

When should my child be vaccinated?

Group Of Children Hanging Out Together In Mall

All 11 to 12 year olds should be vaccinated with a single dose of a quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine. Older teens need a second shot when they are 16 years old so they stay protected when their risk is the highest.

Teens received the meningococcal vaccine for the first time when they were 13, 14, or 15 years old should still get the booster shot when they are 16 years old. If your older teen didn’t get the meningococcal shot at all, you should talk to their doctor about getting it as soon as possible.

Teens and young adults (16 through 23 year olds) may also be vaccinated with a serogroup B meningococcal vaccine (2 or 3 doses depending on brand), preferably at 16 through 18 years old. If your older teen didn’t get the meningococcal shot at all, you should talk to their doctor about getting it as soon as possible. This is really important if they are about to move into a college residence hall as a first-year student or go into the military. Living in community settings like those can increase the risk of getting meningococcal disease.

What else should I know about the vaccine?

Meningococcal vaccine has been studied very carefully and is safe and effective. It is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine.

Like many vaccines, the meningococcal shot may cause mild side effects, like redness and soreness where the shot was given (usually in the arm). A few people who get the vaccine will get a fever. Some preteens and teens might faint after getting meningococcal vaccine or any shot. To help avoid fainting, preteens and teens should sit or lie down when they get a shot and then for about 15 minutes after getting the shot. Serious side effects from meningococcal vaccine are rare.

Where can I learn more?

Talk to your child’s doctor or nurse to learn more about meningococcal vaccine and the other vaccines that your child may need. You can also find out more about these vaccines on CDC’s Vaccines for Preteens and Teens website at www.cdc.gov/vaccines/who/teens.

To learn about who should and should not get this vaccine, when they should be vaccinated, and the risks and benefits of this vaccine, consult the meningococcal vaccine information statement.

Sources: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


More Information:

Meningococcal Vaccines for Preteens and Teens

Meningococcal Vaccination for Preteens and Teens: Questions and Answers

Meningococcal Disease: CDC

 

Watermelon: A healthy, refreshing treat

WatermelonToday is National Watermelon Day! So here are some interesting facts about this healthy, delicious treat!

Watermelon is both a fruit AND a vegetable.

It is a fruit because it’s sweet and grows from a seed. But it’s also a vegetable because it is harvested and cleared from the field like other vegetables and is a member of the gourd family.

Watermelon helps relieve inflammation.

Watermelon contains more lycopene than tomatoes. One cup of watermelon has 1 ½ times the lycopene as a tomato. Lycopene is an inhibitor for inflammatory processes and works as an antioxidant to neutralize free radicals.

Watermelon juice helps with muscle soreness.

Watermelon contains L-citrulline, an amino acid, which helps protect against muscle pain. Research shows that citrulline and arginine supplements derived from watermelon extract lead to significant improvements in blood pressure and cardiac stress.

Watermelon rind is edible.

Watermelon rind contains more of the amino acid citrulline than the pink flesh. Most people throw away the watermelon rind, but try putting it in a blender with some lime for a healthy, refreshing treat.

Watermelon is about 92 percent water.

Watermelon is an ideal health food because it doesn’t contain any fat or cholesterol, is high in fiber and vitamins A & C and is a good source of potassium.

Watermelon is good for the brain.

Watermelon is a mind booster because of its richness in Vitamin B6 which has high influence for proper functioning of brain.

Wellness Wednesday: Vaccinate to protect your family

August is National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM). The importance of vaccination has been debated back and forth over the last decade, with some parents deciding to forgo vaccinating their children. For some, it is concerns about side effects; others think since many of these diseases appear to be eradicated, why bother? Well, the reason we see less and less of these communicable diseases is because of vaccination.

Diseases are becoming rare due to vaccinations

VaccinesSome diseases (like polio and diphtheria) have become very rare in the U.S., largely because we have been vaccinating against them. However, this isn’t true everywhere in the world.

Only one disease—smallpox—has been totally erased from the planet. Polio no longer occurs in the U.S., but it is still paralyzing children in several African countries. More than 350,000 cases of measles were reported from around the world in 2011, with outbreaks in the Pacific, Asia, Africa and Europe. In that same year, 90% of measles cases in the U.S. were associated with cases imported from another country. Only the fact that most Americans are vaccinated prevented these clusters of cases from becoming epidemics.

Immunize until disease is eliminated

Even if there are only a few cases of disease today, if we take away the protection given by vaccination, diseases that are almost unknown would stage a comeback. Before long we would see epidemics of diseases that are nearly under control today and we will undo the progress we have made over the years.

How do vaccines work?

The-Importance-of-VaccinationVaccines contain the same antigens (or parts of antigens) that cause diseases. For example, a measles vaccine contains measles virus. But the antigens in vaccines are either killed, or weakened to the point that they don’t cause disease.

Vaccines help develop immunity by imitating an infection, but this “imitation” infection does not cause illness. It does, however, cause the immune system to develop the same response as it does to a real infection so the body can recognize and fight the vaccine-preventable disease in the future.

In other words, a vaccine is a safer substitute for a child’s first exposure to a disease. The child gets protection without having to get sick. Through vaccination, children can develop immunity without suffering from the actual diseases that vaccines prevent.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


More Information:

2016 Recommended Immunizations for Children from Birth Through 6 Years Old

2016 Recommended Immunizations for Children 7-18 Years Old

Parents’ Guide to Childhood Immunizations

Ensuring the Safety of Vaccines in the United States

Making the Vaccine Decision

Wellness Wednesday: Indoor Tanning is Not Safer than Sunbathing

ucm399147Exposure to UV radiation—whether from the sun or from artificial sources such as sunlamps used in tanning beds—increases the risk of developing skin cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is linked to getting severe sunburns, especially at a young age.


“Although some people think that a tan gives them a ‘healthy’ glow, any tan is a sign of skin damage,” says Sharon Miller, M.S.E.E., a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) scientist and international expert on UV radiation and tanning.


“A tan is the skin’s reaction to exposure to UV rays,” says Miller. “Recognizing exposure to the rays as an ‘insult,’ the skin acts in self-defense by producing more melanin, a pigment that darkens the skin. Over time, this damage will lead to prematurely aged skin and, in some cases, skin cancer.”

Indoor tanning is not a safe option

basetan_623_806Both UV-B and UV-A rays damage the skin and can lead to skin cancer. Tanning salons use lamps that emit both UV-A and UV-B radiation.

In July 2009, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), part of the World Health Organization, concluded that tanning devices that emit UV radiation are more dangerous than previously thought. IARC moved these devices into the highest cancer risk category: “carcinogenic to humans.” Previously, it had categorized the devices as “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

IARC concluded that there is convincing evidence of an association between the use of indoor tanning equipment and melanoma risk, and that the use of tanning beds should be discouraged.

“It’s well established that UV radiation from the sun causes skin cancer,” says Miller. “Since lamps used in tanning beds emit UV radiation, the use of indoor tanning devices also increases your risk of skin cancer.”

Other Risks

In addition to the serious risk of skin cancer, tanning can cause:

  • Premature aging. Tanning causes the skin to lose elasticity and wrinkle prematurely. This leathery look may not show up until many years after you’ve had a tan or sunburn.
  • Immune suppression. UV-B radiation may suppress proper functioning of the body’s immune system and the skin’s natural defenses, leaving you more vulnerable to diseases, including skin cancer.
  • Eye damage. Exposure to UV radiation can cause irreversible damage to the eyes.
  • Allergic reaction. Some people who are especially sensitive to UV radiation may develop an itchy red rash and other adverse effects.

Advocates of tanning devices sometimes argue that using these devices are less dangerous than sun tanning because the intensity of UV radiation and the time spent tanning can be controlled. But there is no evidence to support these claims. In fact, sunlamps may be more dangerous than the sun because they can be used at the same high intensity every day of the year—unlike the sun whose intensity varies with the time of day, the season, and cloud cover.

Tanning in Children and Teens

image-20150608-8697-1m0f3g2The FDA believes that limiting sun exposure and using sunscreen or sunblock are particularly important for children since these measures can prevent sunburn at a young age.

NCI reports that women who use tanning beds more than once a month are 55 percent more likely to develop melanoma. Teenage girls and young women make up a growing number of tanning bed customers.

“Young people may not think they are vulnerable to skin cancer,” says Ron Kaczmarek, M.D., M.P.H., FDA epidemiologist. “They have difficulty thinking about their own mortality.”

Yet of the more than 68,000 people in the U.S. who will learn they have melanoma this year, one out of eight will die from it, according to NCI estimates. In addition, the American Academy of Dermatology reports that melanoma is the second most common cancer in women 20 to 29 years old.


Some states are considering laws to ban those under age 18 from using tanning beds. And many states now have laws that require minors to have a parent’s consent or be accompanied by a parent to the tanning facility.


“Parents should carefully consider the risks before allowing their children under 18 to tan,” says Miller.

The Riskiest Practices

The FDA, NCI, the American Academy of Dermatology, and other health organizations advise limiting exposure to natural UV radiation from the sun and avoiding artificial UV sources such as tanning beds entirely.

All use of tanning beds increases the risk of skin cancer. Certain practices are especially dangerous. These include:

  • Failing to wear the goggles provided, which can lead to short- and long-term eye injury.
  • Starting with long exposures (close to the maximum time for the particular tanning bed), which can lead to burning. Because sunburn takes 6 to 48 hours to develop, you may not realize your skin is burned until it’s too late.
  • Failing to follow manufacturer-recommended exposure times on the label for your skin type.
  • Tanning while using certain medications or cosmetics that may make you more sensitive to UV rays. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist first.

Source: http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates

http://www.fda.gov/downloads/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/UCM190664.pdf

Reaching for the Moon: A Giant Leap for Mankind

Do you remember?

s69-39961At 9:32 a.m. EDT on July 16, 1969, with the world watching, Apollo 11 took off from Kennedy Space Center with astronauts Commander Neil Armstrong, Command Module Pilot Michael Collins and Lunar Module Pilot Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin. After traveling 240,000 miles in 76 hours, Apollo 11 entered lunar orbit. It was July 19.

The next day, at 1:46 p.m., just over 100 hours into the mission, the lunar module Eagle, manned by Armstrong and Aldrin, separated from the command module, where Michael Collins remained. The Eagle began its descent to the lunar surface two hours later, and at 4:18 p.m., it touched down on the Sea of Tranquility. Armstrong radioed to Mission Control, “The Eagle has landed.”

AS11-40-5867HRAt 10:39 p.m., Armstrong opened the hatch and made his way down the lunar module’s ladder as an estimated 530 million people on Earth watched in great anticipation. At 10:56 p.m., Armstrong spoke his famous quote (which he later said was slightly garbled by his microphone) “that’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.” He planted his left foot on the surface, took a cautious step forward, and walked on the moon.

“Buzz” Aldrin joined Armstrong on the moon’s surface at 11:11 p.m., and together they took photographs of the terrain, planted a U.S. flag, ran a few scientific tests, and spoke with President Richard M. Nixon via Houston. By 1:11 a.m. on July 21, both astronauts were back in the lunar module and the two men slept that night on the surface of the moon.

spacestore_2058_58085639After spending nearly a day on the moon, at 1:54 p.m. the Eagle began its ascent back to the command module. Among the items left on the surface of the moon was a plaque that read: “Here men from the planet Earth first set foot on the moon—July 1969 A.D—We came in peace for all mankind.”

At 12:56 a.m. on July 22 Apollo 11 began its journey home, safely splashing down in the Pacific Ocean at 12:51 p.m. on July 24.

Did You Know? Interesting Moon Landing Facts

apollo11_0The astronauts were surprised by the strong odor of the lunar dust which they were only able to smell when they got back inside the Lunar Module. While conducting experiments on the surface of the Moon the astronauts’ spacesuits gathered the moon dust in its creases. After coming into contact with oxygen for the first time inside the Lunar Module, the four billion years old moon dust produced a pungent smell. Neil Armstrong described the scent as similar to wet ashes in a fireplace.

lunar chaliceAfter landing safely on the moon, Buzz Aldrin radioed to Earth asking anyone who was listening to reflect on that moment in history. Aldrin gave thanks for the opportunity and produced a small chalice and a piece of bread which he then consumed whilst reading from the Gospel of John. So Buzz Aldrin became the first and only person to participate in the Christian ritual of Communion on the Moon.

Armstrong with flagThe U.S. flag was later knocked over when Armstrong and Aldrin launched the Lunar Module back into lunar orbit. After Aldrin hit the button to begin the launch he looked out the window and watched as the flag was blasted away with the rest of the material left behind on the lunar surface.

As the Apollo 11 team arrived safely on the Earth, the crew was brought to Hawaii. Despite being the three most famous men at the time, having just traveled to the moon and back, they were still asked to fill out a customs and declarations form at security. In the section asking “Departure From:” the Apollo 11 crew had to write “The Moon.”