Vaccinations For Diseases Scarier Than Ghosts
Epidemics–Scarier Than Ghost Stories
Flu season is here, lurking around the corner, along with the jack-o-lanterns, falling leaves and trick-or-treaters. Flu and other diseases for which we have vaccines are scarier than ghosts and goblins. Now is the time to get your shot. It takes about two weeks to develop immunity after the shot. If you are a caregiver for an elderly person or someone with a compromised immune system, you need a flu shot. You need to protect yourself –if you’re sick, who cares for the elder? Additionally, you risk passing the flu to your parent or elder. I know, you say (because I hear it all the time) “I never get the flu and the one year I did get a flu shot I got sick so I’m not getting another one.” Anecdotal stories are interesting but they are not science.
Vaccinations Are Important
The truth is we have become complacent. We forget, or never learned, the horror that was the Spanish Flu epidemic in 1918.
The influenza or flu pandemic of 1918 to 1919, the deadliest in modern history, infected an estimated 500 million people worldwide–about one-third of the planet’s population at the time–and killed an estimated 20 million to 50 million victims. http://www.history.com/topics/1918-flu-pandemic
We forget in 1944, we suffered a polio epidemic. Seventy-three short years ago–a year before my husband was born. We forget the children who died or spent life crippled by disease. I still remember friends who suffered in adulthood from a bout with polio as a child. Kids of this generation don’t get mumps, measles, pertussis or small pox. As a child I had mumps, measles–rubella and rubeola, and chicken pox. I missed a lot of school. Unfortunately, I had pertussis as an adult after working in a pre-school. I was sick for months before it was diagnosed. Once I got my Z-pack (the treatment), I was better in three days. The doctors said probably an un-immunized child, who didn’t get very sick passed it on–thanks Mom and Dad whoever you are.
In an article “What Would Happen If We Stopped Vaccinations” we get an idea of the history and visual aids showing the effect of stopping immunizations.
“Before the middle of the last century, diseases like whooping cough, polio, measles, Haemophilus influenzae, and rubella struck hundreds of thousands of infants, children and adults in the U.S.. Thousands died every year from them. As vaccines were developed and became widely used, rates of these diseases declined until today most of them are nearly gone from our country.
- Nearly everyone in the U.S. got measles before there was a vaccine, and hundreds died from it each year. Today, most doctors have never seen a case of measles.
- More than 15,000 Americans died from diphtheria in 1921, before there was a vaccine. Only two cases of diphtheria have been reported to CDC between 2004 and 2014.
- An epidemic of rubella (German measles) in 1964-65 infected 12½ million Americans, killed 2,000 babies, and caused 11,000 miscarriages. Since 2012, 15 cases of rubella were reported to CDC.
Given successes like these, it might seem reasonable to ask, “Why should we keep vaccinating against diseases that we will probably never see?” Here is why: (read the full article here)
You’re probably wondering when I will get off my hobby-horse and talk about elder care. I do have a point, I promise. Many elderly have weakened immune systems. Getting the flu and/or pneumonia for them is life or death.
These are the vaccinations recommended for seniors over 50:
Flu shot, yearly
Tdap- tetanus diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough) our childhood immunity is wearing off
Pneumonia, two types: PCV13 (pneumococcal conjugate vaccine) unless you had Prevnar PCV-7 already, and PPSV23 (pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine)
Shingles (Herpes Zoster)
Some other vaccines are recommended for travelers and those with certain risk factors. Your doctor can advise you on this.
I know I have not addressed the concerns of those who believe the spectrum of autistic diseases have a relation to vaccinations. There are many studies available to read. A court case, which as we know courts are the definitive word on health care (insert sarcastic tone–judges, juries and lawyers and not health care specialists and their interests lie in something other than medicine), and people with strong opinions. Below are discussions of reliable studies on the topic.
My heart goes out to any parent of a sick child, despite the cause. However, I know history, and I know the immense suffering and loss of life that occurred before immunizations and I say thank you to Jonas Salk and others whose research has prevented so much disease and death. One flu shot to-go for me please!
Have a good caregiving day,