Did you see the story out of Australia a couple of weeks ago about the pregnant mom who did not get the whooping cough vaccine, contracted the disease, and then passed the disease on to her daughter? The baby has been in intensive care for weeks, and at times turned from red to black in color. Pretty scary stuff! And, it could have been easily prevented.
She described herself as a very healthy, organic and fit woman who had no complications during her pregnancy and no deficiencies. “[But] even me, the bulletproof lady who has never been to a doctor, traveled the world and felt healthy got whooping cough,” she said.
While this mother had no intention of contracting the disease herself, and passing it along to her infant, the effects are still the same.
This woman, like most people in the developed world, have never seen how dangerous these diseases can be. There is also a lot of conflicting and often inaccurate information about the safety of vaccines. These could be some of the reasons she chose not to get the vaccine herself. However, vaccines are one of the biggest health success stories in the United States.
Vaccines help develop immunity by imitating an infection. This type of infection, however, does not cause illness, but it does cause the immune system to produce T-lymphocytes and antibodies. Sometimes, after getting a vaccine, the imitation infection can cause minor symptoms, such as fever. These minor symptoms are normal and should be expected as the body builds immunity. Once the imitation infection goes away, the body is left with a supply of “memory” T-lymphocytes, as well as B-lymphocytes that will remember how to fight that disease in the future. However, it typically takes a few weeks for the body to produce T-lymphocytes and B-lymphocytes after vaccination. So, it is possible that a person who was infected with a disease just before or just after vaccination could develop symptoms and get a disease, because the vaccine has not had enough time to provide protection.
Even though a person may get vaccinated as an infant, they may need another dose of the vaccine as they get older. For example, some vaccines may need more than one dose to build up a more complete immunity. For example, the vaccine that protects against meningitis needs two or three doses over time. The same applies to the Tetanus vaccine.
- Zostavax (shingles vaccine)
- Pneumovax (pneumonia vaccine)
- Influenza (flu shots)
Be sure to stop by one of our stores and pick up a Vaccination Fact Sheet so you can learn more about the timing of vaccines and their benefits— and talk to one of our pharmacists if you have any questions.
Sources: The CDC and BBC.