Vaccination: The Best Way to Prevent Disease in Children
Through vaccination, our children routinely are protected against 15 different diseases. It is important from time to time to reflect and remember how these vaccine preventable diseases previously plagued our population.
Hepatitis B is a blood born virus that affects the liver and can lead to liver cancer. Hepatitis B may also be transmitted from a pregnant mother to her baby, which is why this vaccine is routinely given to babies within the first few days of life. Through this common practice, hepatitis B is much less prevalent in our society.
Tetanus is a bacterial infection that affects the central nervous system. A person may be infected with tetanus through an open wound or puncture wound caused by sharp objects such as nails, screws, and the teeth of animals. Tetanus causes muscle spasms, fever, difficulty breathing, and possibly death. If possible, recovery may take months.
Diphtheria is a bacterial infection that releases a toxin that produces a thick membrane. This can result in difficulty breathing and swallowing. The disease is spread though contact with infected droplets such as when someone sneezes or coughs. This disease may also affect the heart, kidney, and nervous system.
Pertussis, commonly known as Whooping Cough, is a highly contagious bacterial infection. Pertussis causes severe cough and fever. The infected person may suffer from complications such as pneumonia, seizures, and respiratory distress. Infants may have fatal outcomes from contracting Pertussis, which is why Pertussis has been added to the Tetanus vaccine that adults routinely receive to help battle Pertussis outbreaks.
Hepatitis A is a food and water born virus that affects the liver. Hepatitis A is spread by unsafe cooking environments where food is handled by the hands of people that have the disease.
Haemophilus Influenzae Type B (Hib)
Haemophilus Influenzae Type B (Hib) is a bacterial illness that commonly affects young children and may lead to meningitis, pneumonia, and epiglottitis (severe swelling of the throat). Hib is spread through infected droplets and may have severe consequences such as hearing loss, brain damage and even death.
Pneumococcal disease is a bacterial disease that commonly may be found in ear infections. The infections can have serious consequences such as meningitis, blood poisoning, brain damage, and death. The disease is spread by infected droplets and a person may spread the disease by carrying it and not having symptoms themselves. This disease may be especially hard to treat because of emerging bacterial resistance.
Polio is a virus that leads to paralysis, permanent muscle weakness, and occasionally meningitis. Thanks to vaccination, Polio has become very rare.
Meningococcal disease causes life-threatening meningitis and sepsis conditions. It is a serious bacterial illness that affects the central nervous system and may lead to brain damage or even death. Meningitis is spread by contact with infected droplets and direct contact with infected people.
Measles is a viral illness that is very contagious and may be spread before people know that they have the disease. The disease causes fever and rash and may lead to encephalitis and pneumonia.
Mumps is a viral infection affecting the salivary glands. The disease may lead to meningitis, infertility, and hearing loss.
Rubella is a viral disease that causes rash and fever. Rubella is especially harmful to pregnant women and can cause birth defects.
Rotavirus is a virus that causes severe vomiting and diarrhea and can lead to life threatening dehydration, especially in young children. This disease is commonly spread in day care settings.
Chicken pox is a virus that causes an itchy rash. The disease may cause skin infections, pneumonia, encephalitis, and severe secondary bacterial infections.
Influenza is a highly contagious viral infection that may lead to severe dehydration, pneumonia or even death.
Talk to your health care provider if you have any questions in regards to these vaccine preventable diseases. Through vaccination we can ensure that our children and their families live in a healthier society.
Brooke Holway A.R.N.P.