Across the country, thousands of schools have quietly, and without fuss, gone on peanut lockdown. Peanut butter has been banned, and foods that may have once seen, or been in a room with a peanut have been sequestered to special rooms, if allowed at all. While some have scoffed, pretty much all of us have accepted that if we can save a child from an allergic reaction, or worse, death, it’s worth the little bit of inconvenience. After all, about 11 Americans each year die of food allergy related deaths.
Sound like a low number? It’s not. Since about 1998, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have been tracking the number of food allergy deaths just as they track all the other causes of death across the United States. When someone dies in the US, his death certificate data is pumped into a massive database and indexed according to the 10th revision of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases, Injuries, and Causes of Death (ICD-10), a standardized system developed by the World Health Organization. ICD-9, the previous standard, did not have a code for food allergy deaths, but now we have solid data for almost ten years. The underlying number of food allergy deaths according to ICD-10 codes isn’t publicly available in CDC databases because it is so small–statistically insignificant, according to the CDC. More people die each year from lawnmower accidents than from all food allergies combined.
However, as you may have read recently in the news, we are currently in the throes of a measles outbreak, slowly spreading across the United States, largely due to the anti-vaccination movement. People who think nothing of avoiding peanuts are now willing to risk the lives of not only their children, but also themselves, the immune compromised, and even the unborn around them. We urge you to think reasonably, and act responsibly toward your own children, and those around you, when making your healthcare choices.
Before the measles vaccine became available, there were approximately 450,000 measles cases and an average of 450 measles-associated deaths were reported each year.
A simple case of the measles isn’t fun. Measles is highly contagious for one week before and one week after the rash begins. Measles is spread by infected droplets during sneezing or coughing, contaminated objects, and direct contact with nasal or throat secretions of infected persons. The measles virus resides in the mucus in the nose and throat of infected people. When they sneeze or cough, droplets spray into the air and the droplets remain active and contagious on infected surfaces for up to two hours.
While simple measles itself is unpleasant, the possibly complications are very real, and can be very dangerous. Six to 20 percent of the people who get the disease will get an ear infection, diarrhea, or even pneumonia, and can die. One out of 1000 people with measles will develop encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) and about one out of 1000 will die. Encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) can lead to convulsions, lifelong deafness, or mental retardation. Measles can cause miscarriages or premature delivery in pregnant women. These risks are real, but they are VERY preventable!
Our office currently offers ALL recommended vaccines available, including the MMR and MMR booster.
Who should get the MMR vaccine?
Children should get 2 doses of MMR vaccine:
First Dose: 12-15 months of age
Second Dose: 4-6 years of age (may be given earlier, if at least 28 days after the 1st dose)
Some infants younger than 12 months should get a dose of MMR if they are traveling out of the country. (This dose will not count toward their routine series.)
Some adults should also get MMR vaccine: Generally, anyone 18 years of age or older who was born after 1956 should get at least one dose of MMR vaccine, unless they can show that they have either been vaccinated or had all three diseases.
MMR vaccine may be given at the same time as other vaccines.
Children between 1 and 12 years of age can get a “combination” vaccine called MMRV, which contains both MMR and varicella (chickenpox) vaccines. There is a separate Vaccine Information Statement for MMRV.
Some people should not get MMR vaccine or should wait. Making sure that those who CAN get the vaccine DO get the vaccine PROTECTS THESE PEOPLE FROM ILLNESS AND DEATH!
Anyone who has ever had a life-threatening allergic reaction to the antibiotic neomycin, or any other component of MMR vaccine, should not get the vaccine. Tell your doctor if you have any severe allergies.
Anyone who had a life-threatening allergic reaction to a previous dose of MMR or MMRV vaccine should not get another dose.
Some people who are sick at the time the shot is scheduled may be advised to wait until they recover before getting MMR vaccine.
Pregnant women should not get MMR vaccine. Pregnant women who need the vaccine should wait until after giving birth. Women should avoid getting pregnant for 4 weeks after vaccination with MMR vaccine.
Tell your doctor if the person getting the vaccine:
Has HIV/AIDS, or another disease that affects the immune system
Is being treated with drugs that affect the immune system, such as steroids
Has any kind of cancer
Is being treated for cancer with radiation or drugs
Has ever had a low platelet count (a blood disorder)
Has gotten another vaccine within the past 4 weeks
Has recently had a transfusion or received other blood products
Any of these might be a reason to not get the vaccine, or delay vaccination until later.