It’s Flu Season Again!

Every year more than 200,000 people are admitted to the hospital due to influenza infection, while 12,000 to 50,000 people die due to influenza related cause.

Preventing the seasonal flu can be accomplished by taking the flu vaccine every year. This vaccine will induce the body to produce antibodies against the 4 different strains in the vaccine.

Here are some facts about the flu vaccine:

  • Universal vaccination for everyone 6 months of age and older is recommended
  • People at high risk such babies from 6 months to 24 months, adults 65 years and older, pregnant women, American Indians and Alaskans, people with chronic conditions such asthma, COPD, cystic fibrosis, diabetes, heart, kidney and liver disease, immunodeficiency and metabolic disorders are strongly advised to get the vaccine.
  • Get vaccinated as soon as it becomes available, and if at all possible by the end of October.
  • The flu vaccine is made differently each year based on the possible circulating viruses for the next season.
  • Flu vaccine should be given every year.
  • Flu vaccine decreases the chance of hospitalization by 60-75 %
  • Vaccinating pregnant women decreases their baby’s risk of flu infection substantially.
  • Sometimes the vaccine does not match the circulating seasonal flu virus however the antibodies will still work to some extent against the mismatched virus and it will make the disease milder.
  • The flu vaccine is safe and it does NOT cause autism.
  • The flu vaccine is safe to be administered at the same time as other vaccines.
  • The flu vaccine does not cause the flu since the injectable vaccine is made from an inactivated (killed) virus and the nasal spray (when available) is made from a weakened virus that cannot grow in the lungs.
  • Some side effects such as injection site soreness, swelling, low grade fever, headache and achiness could occur but usually are brief and mild.
  • People with mild egg allergies can get the vaccine with no concerns. People with severe egg allergies can also get vaccinated, however this should be done at the doctor’s office where can be monitored for possible allergic reaction.
  • The vaccine has a protection rate of 60-70%
  • This year only the shot is available.

Some simple things to remember:

  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Don’t rub your eyes, nose and mouth with your hands.
  • Eat well, stay well hydrated.
  • Cold medicines are worthless for the flu
  • Stay home if you suspect you have the flu
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The Newborn Period or “Survival Mode”

This article encompasses 20+ years of observations as a practicing pediatrician to enlighten new parents on the “survival period” of the first few weeks of life shared with a newborn. It is best not to have expectations during this time since all newborns are different, yet the majority displays some very common characteristics.

First and foremost – newborns do NOT know a day/night schedule; after all, they have lived in a world of complete darkness for the previous 9 (or fewer) months. They will not and cannot be put on a schedule these first few weeks – everything is on demand! The best you can do to facilitate this transition is to wake your infant during the day after 2-2 ½ hours of napping to feed as regularly as possible and allow 3-4 hours at night. The goal is to feed AT LEAST 8 times in a full 24 hours or 8-12 times which on the average is every 2-3 hours. The more you awaken the infant during the day to feed more frequently, eventually they will learn a day/night schedule. When they wake, feed them but do not wait for them to wake themselves. Infants enter a very sleepy phase a few hours after birth and will sleep up to 16-20 hours in 24 hours so waking them to eat is a necessity.

Until your newborn is gaining weight well along with gaining body fat, feeding is on demand. Somewhere between 10-12 lbs., a schedule will begin to evolve and the nights will become better and more consistent, but don’t expect to really schedule your infant until 6-8 weeks and remember, you are in charge of this.

Stooling is a messy subject! Newborns who stool frequently in the hospital usually slow after discharge if being breast fed due to low intake volume until mother’s milk arrives (typically 3-5 days after birth). It is ok if after several stools a day early on that a day or two is missed while awaiting milk production. Once meconium is cleared, infants should have soft to loose stools daily but this is not always the case. Stooling every other day or every couple of days is usually fine as long as it can be passed easily and is loose. Small balls of poop are considered constipation, even if passed daily.

Newborns seem to sleep best when being held – they all do this and “play possum” when you lay them down. They feel best against your body warmth feeling the vibration of your heart; however, this is not a safe sleep position for them unless you are fully awake. Realize this is a transition and WILL get better, in the meantime, get in the habit of laying them in their bassinette or crib for naps and night sleeping. Watch for cues of tiredness such as rubbing the face or mild fussiness and get in the habit of laying your baby down at these times.

All newborns will have hiccups, sneezes and faster breathing than older children. In fact, they have an irregular pattern of breathing called “periodic breathing” because they will actually stop up to 15 seconds, then start again with faster, shallow breaths, then slower then stop and breathe as many as 40-60 times in a full minute. Any concerns about an infant’s breathing should be discussed with your doctor but realize the rate and pattern are much different than that of an adult. Making funny noises with each breath or frequent coughing is not normal and should be addressed.

It’s a crying shame that cries are the only way newborns can communicate! Crying does not always imply something is wrong; it is simply all they can do to tell us if they are tired, hungry, wet, bored, in pain or simply letting off steam. In time you, as the parent, will be able to discern the meaning of different cries, but for now simply tend to their crying by giving them attention – holding, rocking, changing, feeding and hope that one of these does the trick! Any prolonged (2 hours or more), inconsolable crying may be a sign that something is wrong and your infant should be seen.

Pacifiers are exactly that! They pacify and soothe an infant because sucking is what they do best! These can be a very helpful tool to use in the first few months of life but get rid of them while you are in charge – by 4-6 months – since by then they have served their purpose.

Welcome to parenthood and do your best to enjoy these exhausting weeks but realize that “this too shall pass” and, with time, all will improve and become less work and more fun! Hang in there and enjoy the gift of parenthood!

 

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Car Seat Safety

Car seats are a common source of confusion—which car seat do I need? When can my child face forward? When can my child sit in the front seat? Oklahoma State law was updated in November 2015 and now more closely follows the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines.

Oklahoma Car seat law, the skinny:

Birth to age 2: Rear facing car seat with harness
Age 2 to 4: Forward facing car seat with harness (convertible car seat)
Age 4 until 8 (or at least 4’9”): booster seat
Under age 13: Children must be in a back seat.

The details:

Birth to age 2: Rear facing car seat with harness:

A rear facing car seat with harness is typically what you use to bring home your brand new baby. These usually have a handle and click into a stationary base that stays in your car. Ideally you want it placed in the center of the back row of seats; however, it is more important that you place it where it both fits (so not in a narrow center seat) and where it is locked in place (requires either a LATCH system or locking seat belt). If you do not have locking seat belts or a LATCH system in the center seat then use one of the side seats. Never place a car seat in the front seat. If a front seat is the only option then ensure that passenger side airbags are turned off. When securing a child in the car seat, be sure the shoulder straps of the harness set BELOW the shoulders in the back and the chest clip should cross at the armpits in the front. Make sure the straps holding your child in are always tight without bulky clothing underneath the straps. If it’s cold just lay a blanket over your strapped in child making sure the blanket stays below the chest. As your child grows they may no longer fit in the infant seat or the car seat may no longer be convenient to use. If that’s the case, you can switch to a convertible car seat that allows your child to be backward facing until a certain height/weight limit is reached (based on each individual car seat) and then you can use a forward facing seat thereafter. Most people switch to a convertible car seat when their child is around one year of age.

Why does the law require rear facing? Most injury causing car wrecks are frontal wrecks, with the impact on the front of your car. When your child is backward facing the car seat helps distribute the force of the crash more equally lessening the impact on your child’s neck. The goal is to protect the neck and spinal cord to prevent injury to these vital areas. Studies show that having your child rear facing is 1.5 times safer than forward facing in infants less that one year and 5 times safer in children from 12 months to 2 years!!

Age 2 to 4: Forward facing car seat with harness:

The convertible car seat transitions your child from rear facing to forward facing. Your child should be in a forward facing harness seat when they are at least two years of age and have outgrown the height and weight limits for rear facing on their car seat. Your child should continue to use this type of car seat until at least age four and until they have outgrown the height and weight limits (usually 50-60lbs) of the seat. The shoulder strap should set ABOVE your child’s shoulders for this forward facing car seat type. When your child’s shoulder is above the highest setting of the shoulder strap or the tops of your child’s ears are at the top of the seat, then it is time to move on to a booster. Helpful tips for forward facing car seats: Ensure the car seat can not move more than an inch in any direction once installed. Always read the directions prior to installing. Never buy a used car seat that you are not aware of the crash history- you don’t want a car seat that has expired or that has been in a car crash.

Age 4 until 8 (or at least 4’-9”) Booster:

A booster seat positions your car’s seat belt in the appropriate position- over your child’s upper thigh and across the shoulder and chest. A high back booster is only necessary for cars that lack a head rest or have low back seats. Your child no longer requires a booster when the seat belt hits them properly on the chest and upper thigh, typically when they are about 4’9”. This is typically between 10 and 11 years of age.

Remember: All children ages 13 and under need to be seated in the back seat of the car.

If you want to be sure that your car seat is installed correctly there are several organizations that can assist you by checking the placement of your car seat. The following website lists a few locations and organizations that can assist you:

https://www.ok.gov/ohso/documents/Oklahoma%20Inspection%20Stations_Sept%20%202011.pdf

OTHER HELPFUL WEBSITES:

https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/on-the-go/Pages/Car-Safety-Seats-Information-for-Families.aspx

Home

https://www.safercar.gov/parents/carseats/car-seat-types.htm?view=full

https://www.ok.gov/health/County_Health_Departments/Johnston_County_Health_Department/Car_Seats/index.html

Why Rear Facing: the Science Junkie’s Guide

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Summer Safety Tips

Keep your family safe this summer by following these tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).  For sun and water safety tips, see this tip sheet.

FIREWORKS SAFETY

  • Fireworks can result in severe burns, blindness, scars, and even death.
  • Fireworks that are often thought to be safe, such as sparklers, can reach temperatures above 1000 degrees Fahrenheit, and can burn users and bystanders.
  • Families should attend community fireworks displays run by professionals rather than using fireworks at home.
  • The AAP recommends prohibiting public sale of all fireworks, including those by mail or the Internet.

BUG SAFETY

  • Don’t use scented soaps, perfumes or hair sprays on your child.
  • Avoid areas where insects nest or congregate, such as stagnant pools of water, uncovered foods and gardens where flowers are in bloom.
  • If possible, eliminate stagnant water, such as in bird baths or fish ponds, in your yard. Check that your window screens are tightly fitted and repair any holes to keep bugs out of the house.
  • Avoid dressing your child in clothing with bright colors or flowery prints.
  • To remove a visible stinger from skin, gently back it out by scraping it with a credit card or your fingernail.
  • Combination sunscreen/insect repellent products should be avoided because sunscreen needs to be reapplied every two hours, but the insect repellent should not be reapplied.
  • Use insect repellents containing DEET when needed to prevent insect-related diseases. Ticks can transmit Lyme Disease, and mosquitoes can transmit West Nile, Zika virus, Chikungunya virus and other viruses.
  • The current AAP and CDC recommendation for children older than 2 months of age is to use 10% to 30% DEET. DEET should not be used on children younger than 2 months of age.
  • The effectiveness is similar for 10% to 30% DEET but the duration of effect varies. Ten percent DEET provides protection for about 2 hours, and 30% protects for about 5 hours. Choose the lowest concentration that will provide the required length of coverage.
  • The concentration of DEET varies significantly from product to product, so read the label of any product you purchase. Children should wash off repellents when they return indoors.
  • As an alternative to DEET, picaridin has become available in the U.S. in concentrations of 5% to10%.
  • When outside in the evenings or other times when there are a lot of mosquitoes present, cover up with long sleeved shirts, pants and socks to prevent bites.

PLAYGROUND SAFETY

  • The playground should have safety-tested mats or loose-fill materials (shredded rubber, sand, wood chips, or bark) maintained to a depth of at least 9 inches (6 inches for shredded rubber). The protective surface should be installed at least 6 feet (more for swings and slides) in all directions from the equipment.
  • Equipment should be carefully maintained. Open “S” hooks or protruding bolt ends can be hazardous.
  • Swing seats should be made of soft materials such as rubber, plastic or canvas.
  • Make sure children cannot reach any moving parts that might pinch or trap any body part.
  • Never attach—or allow children to attach—ropes, jump ropes, leashes, or similar items to play equipment; children can strangle on these.  If you see something tied to the playground, remove it or call the playground operator to remove it.
  • Make sure your children remove helmets and anything looped around their necks.
  • Metal, rubber and plastic products can get very hot in the summer, especially under direct sun. 
  • Make sure slides are cool to prevent children’s legs from getting burned.
  • Do not allow children to play barefoot on the playground.
  • Parents should supervise children on play equipment to make sure they are safe.
  • Parents should never purchase a home trampoline or allow children to use a home trampoline because of the risk of serious injury even when supervised.
  • Surrounding trampoline netting offers a false sense of security and does not prevent many trampoline-related injuries. Most injuries happen on the trampoline, not from falling off.
  • If children are jumping on a trampoline, they should be supervised by a responsible adult, and only one child should be on the trampoline at a time; 75% of trampoline injuries occur when more than one person is jumping at a time.
  • Homeowners should verify that their insurance policies cover trampoline-related claims. Coverage is highly variable and a rider may need to be obtained.

BICYCLE SAFETY

  • A helmet protects your child from serious injury, and should always be worn. And remember, wearing a helmet at all times helps children develop the helmet habit.
  • Your child needs to wear a helmet on every bike ride, no matter how short or how close to home. Many injuries happen in driveways, on sidewalks, and on bike paths, not just on streets. Children learn best by observing you. Set the example: Whenever you ride, put on your helmet.
  • When purchasing a helmet, look for a label or sticker that says the helmet meets the CPSC safety standard.
  • A helmet should be worn so that it is level on the head and covers the forehead, not tipped forward or backwards. The strap should be securely fastened with about 2 fingers able to fit between chin and strap. The helmet should be snug on the head, but not overly tight. Skin should move with the helmet when moved side to side. If needed, the helmet’s sizing pads can help improve the fit.
  • Do not push your child to ride a 2-wheeled bike without training wheels until he or she is ready. Consider the child’s coordination and desire to learn to ride. Stick with coaster (foot) brakes until your child is older and more experienced for hand brakes. Consider a balance bike with no pedals for young children to learn riding skills.
  • Take your child with you when you shop for the bike, so that he or she can try it out. The value of a properly fitted bike far outweighs the value of surprising your child with a new one. Buy a bike that is the right size, not one your child has to “grow into.” Oversized bikes are especially dangerous.

SKATEBOARD, SCOOTER, IN-LINE SKATING AND HEELYS SAFETY

  • All skateboarders and scooter-riders should wear protective gear; helmets are particularly important for preventing and minimizing head injuries. Riders should wear helmets that meet ASTM or other approved safety standards, and that are specifically designed to reduce the effects of skating hazards.
  • Communities should continue to develop skateboard parks, which are more likely to be monitored for safety than ramps and jumps constructed by children at home.
  • While in-line skating or using Heelys, only skate on designated paths or rinks and not in the street.
  • Most injuries occur due to falls. Inexperienced riders should only ride as fast as they can comfortably slow down, and they should practice falling on grass or other soft surfaces. Before riding, skateboarders should survey the riding terrain for obstacles such as potholes, rocks, or any debris. Protective wrist, elbow and kneepads should be worn.
  • Children should never ride skateboards or scooters in or near moving traffic.
  • Riders should never skate alone. Children under the age of eight should be closely supervised at all times.

ALL-TERRAIN VEHICLES

  • Children who are too young to have a driver’s license should not be allowed to operate or ride off-road vehicles. Children are involved in about 30 percent of all ATV-related deaths and emergency room-treated injuries.
  • Because their nervous systems and judgment have not fully developed, off-road vehicles are particularly dangerous for children younger than 16 years.
  • Don’t ride double. Passengers are frequently injured when riding ATVs. Most ATVs are designed to carry only one person: the driver. Passengers can make ATVs unstable and difficult to control.
  • All ATV riders should take a hands-on safety training course.
  • All riders should wear helmets, eye protection, sturdy shoes (no flip-flops), and protective, reflective clothing. Appropriate helmets are those designed for motorcycle (not bicycle) use, and should include safety visors/face shields for eye protection. Wearing a helmet may prevent or reduce the severity of these injuries.
  • ATVs lack the common safety equipment found on all cars and trucks that are designed for street use. ATV tires are not designed to grip on pavement, so operators should not ride on paved roads. Parents should never permit nighttime riding or street use of off-road vehicles.
  • Flags, reflectors and lights should be used to make vehicles more visible.
  • Drivers of recreational vehicles should not drive while under the influence of alcohol, drugs or even some prescription medicines. Parents should set an example for their children in this regard.
  • Young drivers should be discouraged from on-road riding of any 2-wheeled motorized cycle, even when they are able to be licensed to do so, because they are inherently more dangerous than passenger cars.

LAWN MOWER SAFETY

  • Only use a mower with a control that stops the mower blade from moving if the handle is let go.
  • Children younger than 16 years should not be allowed to use ride-on mowers. Children younger than 12 years should not use walk-behind mowers.
  • Make sure that sturdy shoes are worn while mowing.
  • Prevent injuries from flying objects, such as stones or toys, by picking up objects from the lawn before mowing begins. Have anyone who uses a mower wear hearing and eye protection.
  • Do not pull the mower backward or mow in reverse unless absolutely necessary, and carefully look for children behind you when you mow in reverse.
  • Always turn off the mower and wait for the blades to stop completely before removing the grass catcher, unclogging the discharge chute, or crossing gravel paths, roads, or other areas.
  • Do not allow children to ride as passengers on ride-on mowers.
  • Keep children out of the yard while mowing.
  • Drive up and down slopes, not across to prevent mower rollover.
  • Keep guards, shields, switches, and safety devices in proper working order at all times.
  • If children must be in the vicinity of running lawnmowers, they should wear polycarbonate protective eye wear at all times.

© American Academy of Pediatrics, 2016

 

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How’s your baby sleeping?

One of the most common concerns of parents is that their babies are “turned around” or have “their nights and days mixed up”. This is very common in newborns which, along with the frequent need to feed, makes caring for a newborn such a challenging (but wonderful) experience.    We expect some exhaustion and schedule disruption at first, but how long is too long and what can we do if the sleep problems/ night waking persist?  There are things that can be done to help your baby sleep during the night. Babies are expected to wake to feed till 3-6 months of age.  We usually do not recommend sleep training measures until after that period of time.  Some babies will start to sleep for longer periods of time on their own prior to six months which is fine, as long as infant is healthy. (Note- These methods and sleep patterns may not apply to infants with illness, growth problems or underlying medical concerns.) Many parents associate sleep training with abandoning their child to cry for hours.  This need not be the case. There are several methods that can help ease babies into a better nighttime routine.

One of the common themes in all of these methods involves routine bedtime and getting ready for bed activities. Trying to keep a set bedtime will help your child to regulate their sleep schedule and make the going to sleep process ultimately easier.  Many parents (and infants) enjoy routine activities such as nighttime bath, reading, rocking, etc.  This can be a wonderful bonding time with infant as well as helping your baby to wind down.  If baby has a difficult time falling asleep initially, move the bedtime up a little. Often, babies that are overly tired have a difficult time falling asleep.  Make time changes gradually, perhaps 30 minutes earlier to start nighttime routine each night until desired bedtime is reached.  Most methods also advise putting child to sleep drowsy but awake.  If baby falls asleep in your arms, it can be jarring to awaken alone, which can lead to increased full awakening during the night.

Most of the methods involve allowing baby to comfort and fall asleep on his own at bedtime and during the night. The Ferber method advises putting the baby down while drowsy, but then waiting a prescripted amount of time until calming baby.  This method advises parents to check on infant, soothe with words and pat infant, but not to pick up.  This method starts with short intervals of time between calming times and gradually increasing to longer periods of time.  As the intervals lengthen, the methods used to comfort also change as well, starting with contact, but going to just verbal reassurance.  This method does not advise that you just leave the room and let your infant cry all night.  Many times this method can be effective in a fairly short period of time, 1-2 weeks, but obviously these times will differ with each child.

Another popular method is the Sleep Lady Solution. Like the Ferber method, this method utilizes putting baby to bed drowsy, but not fully asleep.  It then starts with parents sitting directly by the crib, patting, gently calming baby as needed.  Then several nights after this, it recommends moving further away from the crib and trying to pat and calm less frequently.  Every few days, parents will move further away from crib and ideally infant will need less frequent calming.  With this technique, parents may pick up child and comfort, but once baby is calm she should be put back in bed to rest.  This technique also advises waking to feed at a set time each night as a way to deal with nighttime feedings.  If awakened slightly before her normal feeding time at night, many babies will then sleep through set waking times, and this can help to change sleeping patterns.  (For example if normal feeding time is 1 AM, but you wake to feed at midnight, if baby wakes again at 1 AM out of habit, parent can be reassured that true hunger is not driving this wake up and hopefully will feel more comfortable with using sleep training methods. ) This method advises not letting baby fall asleep at breast or bottle but putting in crib while still drowsy if possible. A planned daily wake up time with increase in light in the room also can help little ones to get on a better sleep schedule.

Some parents prefer the No-Cry sleep method. It allows parents to actively respond to child’s needs without a prescribed time of crying. Crying babies are picked up and held, rocked, fed until calm or asleep, then are put back into crib to sleep. If the baby awakens again, parent picks up and calms again as needed.  This method also emphasizes nighttime routine and consistent bedtime. This method has many similarities to Sleep Lady method, bedtime routine, introduce a lovey object (older babies), using verbal sleep cues (Shh, time to sleep), and a darkened room at bedtime.

These methods also discuss need for routines with daytime napping like same location, darkened room, quiet or soft music and placing in bed awake but drowsy. Also, learning your child’s sleep cues (rubbing eyes, yawning) can be helpful. Often putting a child to bed when these cues are happening will make bedtime easier.

This is just a very brief description of these methods.  There are more tips and specific examples in the books. I know that with an infant or child at home there is not much time for reading, but these books can be read in pieces. There are brief chapters on the main points of the method and age appropriate chapters as well.  I do recommend reading the pertinent chapters as there are many more points made in the books that can help implement these changes.  Another suggestion is for both parents to discuss changes. Make sure that both parents are ready to try sleep training.   Sometimes it helps to set date to start and plan your schedule for the method you are using.  Many of the books will have worksheets to help this transition. Making a simple cheat sheet for anyone watching the baby during the day can be helpful also.

In my personal experience, I have used a variety of these techniques. As always, certain methods may fit one baby (or family) better than others.  I would advise that you go with your instincts regarding sleep training.  This should be a challenge but not a soul wrenching process. Often parents will find that though it can be difficult, making these changes does end with a happier more well rested baby and better rested parents.  The baby stages are so short, if exhaustion is clouding your time with your baby, it may be best to make a change.

Books that we recommend on sleep:

Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems by Richard Ferber

The Sleep Lady’s Good Night Sleep Tight by Kim West

The No-Cry Sleep solution by Elizabeth Pantley

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Doc’s Blog

Measles outbreak and why you should immunize

With the recent outbreak of measles in our country, we are faced with the real possibility of a vaccine preventable disease making its way into our every day lives, affecting patients, friends, family members, those we know and love. It’s time we realize that many diseases we Americans have comfortably taken for granted as having been eradicated in our country are potentially lurking as our herd immunity falls below protective rates.

 

What is herd immunity?

When a critical portion of a community is immunized against a contagious disease, most members of the community are protected against that disease because there is little opportunity for an outbreak. Even those who are not eligible for certain vaccines—such as infants, pregnant women, or immunocompromised individuals—get some protection because the spread of contagious disease is contained. This is known as “community immunity.”

In the illustration below, the top box depicts a community in which no one is immunized and an outbreak occurs. In the middle box, some of the population is immunized but not enough to confer community immunity. In the bottom box, a critical portion of the population is immunized, protecting most community members.

 

communityImmunityGeneric

This content is brought to you by: The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)

There are many in our country who, for whatever reason they may cite, have chosen to count on the protectiveness of herd immunity to keep their own children, whom they choose not to immunize, from getting these diseases. This is a disturbing phenomenon, because if not everyone is willing to contribute to herd immunity, its protectiveness will clearly wane, leaving many at risk. When the immunization rate falls below 95%, the risk of outbreak increases. Fear of these potentially deadly diseases such as measles, polio, pertussis, Haemophilus influenza meningitis, and others seems to be missing because the current generation of parents has not seen them up close and personal in their lifetimes. But most of your pediatricians have. We have seen the look of terror in the eyes of parents as we explain that their toddler will either die or live blind and deaf because of H. flu meningitis. Many of us in the field of pediatrics have seen children die of the measles. We have known friends, family members and loved ones either die of polio, or survive with lifelong disabilities because of it. These are real possibilities again in this country if we allow herd immunity to continue to fall. We as a nation owe it not only to our own children, but to the children in our schools, churches, daycares, across the street and around the corner. We owe it to every child to have the protection from diseases that we have the capability to prevent.

Nothing we do in medicine is completely without risk. Giving your child simple Tylenol or OTC cold medicines have risk. So, we cannot say to you that every vaccine is risk-free. There are known risks to each one, mainly fever and malaise. But when we compare the extremely low risk of a mild side effect such as that to the risk of your child getting a disease that is preventable, we consider it well worth it! Do we think the MMR is associated with autism in any way? Definitively not. The study that made the purported link between the two has been discredited, the physician has had his medical license stripped, and multiple large scientific studies have completely debunked any such association. But outspoken public figures who have taken up this issue and brought much attention to it have frightened the public unnecessarily. As you know, it is very difficult to “un-scare” people. We urge you to trust medical science and research, not the emotional outcry of individuals.

We encourage you to immunize your children. We believe it is not only safe, but the right thing to do. For your children as well as others. How can any one of us live with the possibility of putting someone else’s innocent child at risk because we have failed to protect our own?

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