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Thursday, August 7, 2014

Ebola Cannot Be Prevented, But Vaccinations Are Still Critically Important to Keep Current

Protecting ourselves from illness is a complex process: unfortunately, not just a shot: but nutrition, improvement of our immune system, exercise, hand washing, limiting exposure when possible all are an integral part of avoiding disease. We cannot prevent Ebola by vaccination, but then again there are many diseases we can prevent. Vaccinations are invaluable however, and I have always urged patients to take full advantage of them, and that means rechecking with your health care provider regularly. Vaccination has eradicated small pox, and hopefully polio will be the next to go. We have talked about eradicating cervical cancer, and sexual health has to be added to the list of behaviors that contribute to the eradication of cervical cancer! Flu shots are only about 62 % effective in the 2013 flu season in sophisticated viral studies, although improvements, mentioned below, are coming for 2014. Most women can take most vaccines, but there are some contraindications to getting vaccinated. The CDC has announced changes in the vaccination policy. For pregnant moms there is a policy change in what is called the Tdap vaccine.  Tdap which stands for, the tetanus, diphtheria, acellular pertussis vaccine, comes on the heels of pertussis (whooping cough) outbreaks, including in our community in Illinois, as well as in other communities across the United States. The new recommendation is to vaccinate pregnant women in each and every pregnancy in the third trimester, preferably between 27 and 36 weeks. This includes pregnant women who have been vaccinated previously. Tdap vaccination according to the label is FDA approved for adults as single use only, so repeat maternal vaccination is considered an off-label use. Tdap booster is recommended universally for all adults, including those aged 65 years and older. There has been a change to the flu vaccine as well. Influenza vaccination is recommended for everyone, each year, over 6 months of age. That still stands, but there has been a name change. Instead of TIV, which stands for trivalent inactivated influenza vaccine, the new name is IIV -- inactivated influenza vaccine. There are situations where there is individual risk for vaccinations, and those should be determined by your own providers. For instance those who had Guillian-Barre syndrome within 6 weeks of a prior influenza vaccine might be told not to get the vaccination, and similarly some people with egg allergies cannot take live virus vaccines. Starting next year, many manufacturers will transition from a trivalent formulation that covers 2 strains of influenza A and 1 strain of influenza B to a quadrivalent formulation that doubles the coverage for these strains. For more complete information, speak with your own gyno, and additionally you can turn to the CDC website, the FDA website, or perhaps the Vaccine advisor.

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