VACCINATION

Pediatric vaccination services in the United States have proved highly effective against a number of viral diseases, including measles, rubella, tetanus, diphtheria and polio; less than 500 children die per year from vaccine-preventable diseases in the United States.

However, healthy adults still need frequent vaccinations. About 50,000 to 70,000 people die annually from pneumonia and influenza in the United States, which may be drastically decreased with vaccines.   Receiving adequate immunizations plays a vital role in protecting one's health throughout one's lifetime.

Most vaccinations are administered to adults in the form of injections into the upper arm. Some vaccines are often delivered in various ways, such as by mouth or as a nasal spray.

HOW VACCINE WORKS

The immune system protects the body against disease and infection. When a person’s immune system detects a foreign orgaisms (bacterium, virus), it reacts by producing proteins called antibodies. Antibodies combat the infection and help the person heal.

Antibodies act  to keep a person from being sick in the future. The next time a person is exposed to the organism, the immune system identifies it and immediately generates the antibodies needed to kill the organism.This reaction prevents the person from the developing disease, preferably for life. For example, it is rare that a person who had chickenpox as a child would experience it again even though he or she is in direct contact with a person who is affected.

Vaccines function by activating the immune system to create antibodies. However unlike bacteria and viruses, vaccines do not require a human to become sick to produce these antibodies. There are two primary types of immunization: active and passive.

ACTIVE VACCINE

Active vaccines use a weakened type of dangerous bacteria or viruses or bacterial or viral elements to activate the immune system. Some active vaccines are considered live vaccines because they are produced from a weakened type of bacteria or virus.

Some bacteria (e.g. diphtheria, tetanus) cause disease and they create a poisonous material called toxins in the body. Vaccines that support the immune system protect the body from toxin are known as  toxoids. Toxoids are formed from weakened versions of bacterial toxin.

PASSIVE VACCINE

Passive vaccines offer temporary immunity with antibodies from a wide group of donors known as immune serum globulin. Passive vaccines provide short-term protection for infants or adults who have been exposed to a specific pathogens.

SIDE EFFECTS OF VACCINATION

Most vaccines are harmless and cause little if any significant side effects. Serious side effects rarely occur. People who are vaccinated and experience signs that may be linked to the vaccine should call their healthcare professional. The side effects can be either mild or severe.

Mild side effects

  • A mild fever

  • A reddish, tender area at the site of injection

  • Occasionally, a "serum sickness-like" reaction that may be characterized by fever, skin rash, swollen lymph nodes, joint pain, and/or other symptoms

Severe side effects

Severe side effects of vaccines are uncommon but can include severe brain reactions (e.g. seizures) or severe allergic reactions (eg, anaphylaxis). Allergic reactions typically occur within minutes to hours after vaccination. When this happens at the health care provider's office, medical care should be provided immediately. If there is a critical reaction later, the individual or family member can contact emergency care facilities.

REASON TO AVOID VACCINATION

A specific vaccination may not be prescribed for patients with a severe allergic reaction to the following:

  • Eggs or egg protein

Since certain vaccines are prepared from embryonic chicken eggs or cultures (eg, influenza vaccine, yellow fever vaccine). Mild reactions to eggs do not mean that the vaccine should be avoided. There is a form of influenza vaccine (recombinant hemagglutinin influenza vaccine) that is safe for people with extreme allergic reactions to eggs because the vaccine is not prepared with eggs.

  • Gelatin

  • Antibiotic

Medications like Neomycin or streptomycin (some vaccines contains minute amounts of neomycin) should be avoided.

In addition, live virus vaccines, such as measles, mumps, and rubella vaccines and varicella vaccines, are usually not recommended for the following groups:

 

  • People with compromised immune system since there is a greater chance of infection as a result of the immunization.

  • Patients who have recently undergone a blood transfusion or immune serum globulin, which may prolong normal reaction to active vaccination. Vaccination should be postponed by one month in this situation. 

  • Pregnant women or those planning to get pregnant within 28days, due to possible risk the vaccine may have on the foetus.

SOME INFECTIONS THAT REQUIRE VACCINATION

Pneumococcal Infection

Pneumonia is a dangerous lung infection that can be lethal, particularly in older adults, persons with chronic medical conditions and those with compromised immune systems. Pneumonia is typically caused by bacteria; Streptococcus pneumoniae or pneumococcus is the most common. Pneumococcal pneumonia can develop as a complication of a viral infection of the respiratory tract, such as influenza. Pneumococcal vaccines protect against many cases of pneumococcal disease.

Influenza

Commonly known as flu, influenza is an extremely infectious viral illness that occurs in outbreaks worldwide, typically during the winter season in the United States and other non-tropical areas. Severe complications can occur in people with influenza, including bacterial pneumonia. Influenza vaccine is recommended for virtually all adults. 

Varicella (chickenpox)

Chickenpox is a highly infectious respiratory disease caused by varicella-zoster virus infection (VZV). The illness causes fever, sore throat, and a distinct, itchy, blissful rash that later becomes scabs. The virus is spread by airborne droplets or by close contact with skin rash.

Two doses of varicella vaccine are expected, with the second dose administered four to eight weeks after the first dose. Varicella vaccine should not be given to pregnant women or those who plan to become pregnant within the next month and those with a history of anaphylactic responses to neomycin or gelatin.

Hepatitiis B

Inflammation of the liver (hepatitis) is caused by infection with some viruses, including the hepatitis B virus (HBV). Though the infection often clears or is asymptomatic (does not cause symptoms), HBV can lead to chronic infections that can lead to progressive liver scarring (cirrhosis) or liver cancer. HBV is spread by contact with infectious body fluids, such as unprotected sexual intercourse, the sharing of contaminated needles during injection drug use, or by interaction with contaminated blood or blood products. HBV may also be transferred from a pregnant woman to her child.

There is a vaccine available to protect against HBV. Vaccination with HBV is already recommended for all infants in early childhood or as a "catch-up" vaccination during early adolescence. In addition, any adult at risk of infection with HBV should receive the HBV vaccine. The vaccine is typically administered in three doses, with the second and third doses given one month and six months after the initial dose.

People with anaphylactic reactions to yeast should not get HBV vaccines.

Meningococcal

Neisseria meningitidis is a bacterium that causes severe diseases, including bacterial meningitis. The bacteria reside on the surfaces of the nose and the pharynx (wind pipe) and are spread from person to person by close contact with respiratory secretions. While meningococcal disease is quickly treated in most cases, 10 to 14 per cent of people die of infection.

Meningococcal vaccines are available for the prevention of the infection. Expert groups advocate a meningococcal vaccine for all children, college freshmen living in dormitories, military personnel, visitors to places where meningococcal disease is widespread, microbiologists who are susceptible to meningococcal disease, people who have done spleen replacement, and people with terminal deficiency. Meningococcal vaccines can be used in people infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

Important Notice:

This website and its contents are for the purposes of general information and education only and are not to be used for diagnosis or treatment without the supervision of a healthcare provider.

Email drdar@drdarmd.com for general information

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