February 2015

Please Vaccinate Your Babies: Part 2 By Robin Miller, MD

 

As I said in an earlier post, I am perplexed as to why we are having the discussion regarding vaccinating our children in the US.  I received feedback from some who said their children were harmed by vaccines.  Exactly what that harm was, I do not know.  I acknowledge that there are risks to everything. However, using the vaccine risk that is small as justification to not treat our children is foolish. It reminds me of the occasional story of someone who is killed in a car accident because they were wearing a seat belt. Does that mean I stop wearing my seat belt, of course not. I know that sometimes things happen that are unexpected, but I have to go with the safety odds.

Just as I was trying to find a way of helping people to understand the importance of vaccines, I happened to hear an interview given by Bill and Melinda Gates.  They were talking about the mortality of children under 5 years old around the world and how it is dramatically changing for the better. Why?  Because of the global vaccination program.

Recent data from the World Health Organization shows that the vaccination rates are at their all-time highest.   Those getting the basic DPT vaccine jumped from 66 to 79%. The death rate from measles has fallen by 92% in Africa. If the vaccination rates continue to increase, 8 million children will be saved worldwide by 2020.

The protection from vaccines goes well beyond those who are 5 and younger.  As an example, hepatitis B is one of the major causes of chronic liver disease and liver cancer worldwide.  When I was an intern, I watched helplessly while a 29-year-old patient of mine died of fulminant hepatitis.  His liver disintegrated before my eyes.  I was so grateful when the vaccine for hepatitis B was released many years later.   I made sure my children got it as soon as it was available.

It is estimated that as many as a third of the world’s population has been infected with the hepatitis B virus.  About 5% become chronic carriers and 25% of carriers develop serious liver disease such as cirrhosis and liver cancer.  Hepatitis B infection is responsible for one million deaths a year worldwide. It will take time, but as the vaccine becomes more readily available this will change people’s lives and health for the better.

We are lucky in our country that vaccinations are widely accessible and affordable. Perhaps a worldwide perspective will help to understand why they are so important. Until these diseases are wiped out, with worldwide travel, we are all at risk for potentially deadly infections unless we are protected. Please vaccinate you and your babies. It will save your lives and the lives around you.

 

 

 

Vaccinate Your Babies Please By Robin Miller MD

 

I have to admit, I am baffled. Why are we arguing about giving children vaccines? I do not understand why parents would not want to protect their children from diseases that could harm or even kill them.

There is no connection between vaccines and autism. Many, many studies have shown that.  Andrew Wakefield who initially made this claim published fraudulent study results on twelve children. Lawyers who were looking to win a case against a company that made vaccines paid him.   There is no credible evidence here.

Since he published his study, diseases that had almost completely disappeared have started to come back with a vengeance. The latest outbreaks have involved chicken pox and measles. Parents are reluctant to vaccinate their children based on a discredited study written by a doctor who was stripped of his license as a result.

I remember having chicken pox and mumps.  I remember how miserable my sister was when she had the measles, and I remember seeing some of my friends in leg braces after they developed polio.  Since the early 1960’s, vaccines made it possible to avoid getting many of these diseases.

Young adults these days have never seen or experienced these illnesses.  They don’t realize how devastating they can be.  Maybe that is part of the problem.  They also have a distrust of big pharma and the medical profession in general.

I live near the town of Ashland, Oregon where the vaccination rate is one of the lowest in the nation.  In my opinion, it is not a matter of if but when an epidemic will occur. The vaccine for measles is not given until a child is a year old.  It is not effective until then. What those who insist on avoiding vaccination don’t seem to get is that if they get sick they are putting infants and immune compromised children (who may not respond to the vaccines) at risk for diseases that could kill them.

Up until recently, those who were vaccinated offered a buffer to those who were not.  This is called herd immunity. That buffer is going away as a result of the ease of world travel and the increase in those who are unvaccinated.

This insistence that they know better and that by being healthy they will resist these highly contagious diseases is the ultimate in selfishness and ego. It pains me to think that it will only be illness and loss that will convince them of the need for prevention with vaccines.

I can only hope that those adults who were never vaccinated as well as parents who are choosing not to vaccinate their children will come to their senses.  Hopefully, this will happen sooner rather than later.

 

 

 

Time To Listen To Your Heart….Again

 

Despite the fact that there has been a huge campaign to inform women about the different ways that heart attack can present, we (women) are still waiting too long to call for help. I believe that one of the reasons has to do with our nature. Most of us live in the land of denial. We do not think that something like heart attack can happen to us. In addition we are so busy taking care of others that we often ignore our own symptoms.

Research looking at heart disease in women done by the National Institutes of Health found that 95% of women studied noted symptoms that were unusual for them one month prior to having their heart attack. The most common being unusual fatigue; sleep problems, shortness of breath, indigestion and anxiety.

Despite all the research and push for public awareness, heart disease is still the number one cause of death in men AND women. Risk factors include: family history of heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, diabetes, lack of exercise, smoking, stress, and low magnesium.

Regardless of whether you have any of these risk factors or not, if you are a woman and you experience overwhelming fatigue like you do with a bad flu, (but you don’t have the flu), trouble sleeping, anxiety, a sense of dread, shortness of breath, vague chest or jaw discomfort; you may be having a heart attack or you are about to experience one.

If that is the case, do NOT drive yourself to the emergency room. Do NOT wait till a friend or family member can take you to the emergency room. Do NOT ignore the symptoms. Do call 911 and chew an aspirin while you wait (provided you are not allergic to aspirin).

The reason you call 911 is that you want to be cared for as soon as possible. As most cardiologists will tell you, time is muscle. If you take yourself to the emergency room, you may have to wait and that might have tragic consequences. I had a patient many years ago, who had her heart attack while she waited three hours in the waiting room of a hospital emergency room. Do not let that happen to you. The longer you wait the greater the chance you will sustain long-lasting heart damage. The sooner they can help you the better your chances of a full recovery.

Most of us may be self-sacrificing but we have really good gut instincts. Listen to your intuition. If you think that something is wrong with your heart then you are probably right. Take care of your heart so it can take care of you and keep you vital and healthy.

 

 

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