Monthly Archives: January 2014

Mother’s Facebook Updates Detail Son’s Tragic Death from Pertussis

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Shot of Prevention

BradysMemoryBrady was born on November 20, 2011 and weighed in at a healthy 8 lbs., 6 oz.  His parents, Jon and Kathy, thought they were taking every precaution to protect their baby.  They even insisted that friends and family wash their hands or use hand sanitizer before they were permitted to pick him up.  What they didn’t realize was that these actions wouldn’t be enough to protect their precious son from a dangerous disease called pertussis.

Since infants don’t begin receiving vaccinations for pertussis (also known as whooping cough) until they are two months old, they remain vulnerable to this highly contagious disease at a time when they are most fragile.  Today we share Brady’s battle in the same way that his mother did; through her Facebook status updates.  This small glimpse into one family’s heartbreak reminds us of how fragile a young life can be and highlights how important adult pertussis boosters are in sparing others from suffering and possibly even death.

In early January, Brady’s parents suspected that he was coming down with a cold.  When his fever…

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Two Excellent Resources for Moms and Babies!

The National Healthy Mothers, Health Babies Coalition is a great resource that targets helpful information for all mothers and those planning motherhood. This group has partnered with Text4Baby.Org to send important health-related tips and reminders to moms.

About Text4Baby:  Women sign up by texting BABY or BEBE to 511411 to receive three free text messages per week throughout their pregnancy and baby’s first year. The messages are personalized to the mother’s due date or baby’s birth date on topics including: nutrition, safe sleep, developmental milestones and more. Evaluation results from a California State University San Marcos/University of California San Diego study of Text4baby participants show Text4baby facilitates increased communication with health providers, effectively reminds women of their appointments, and informs women of medical warning signs they didn’t know. A separate George Washington University study found that Text4baby moms feel three times more prepared for motherhood than non-Text4baby participants.

With these resources all mothers are able to have information and advice from leading experts at their fingertips!

Reblogged from National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition


Pregnancy & Flu Don’t Mix: Keep Moms-to-Be Healthy This Season

January 21st, 2014

by Siobhan Dolan, M.D. Obstetrician gynecologist and clinical geneticist, Albert Einstein College of Medicine/Montefiore Medical Center Medical Advisor, March of Dimes Author of Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby


According to CDC reports, overall flu activity continues to be high. In mid-January, 35 states are reporting widespread flu activity, and 10 flu-related deaths of children have been confirmed.

Now that we are moving into peak flu season, I want to remind every pregnant woman to go get her flu shot.  And it’s not too late! Getting a flu vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and your baby from the flu.

CDC surveillance data has shown that the predominant flu strain this year is H1N1, the same that emerged in 2009 to cause a pandemic. Since this strain causes more severe illness in children and young adults, compared to older adults, young women and children are at increased risk.  So it is even more important to be vaccinated if you are pregnant. The flu vaccine is safe and effective during pregnancy.

In addition to getting the vaccine, here’s what you should know about flu and pregnancy:


Health complications from the flu, such as pneumonia, can be serious and even deadly, especially if you’re pregnant. Pregnant women who get the flu are more likely than women who don’t get it to have preterm labor and premature birth. Prematurity can cause serious lifelong health problems for your baby.

The flu can be harmful during pregnancy because when you’re pregnant, your immune system isn’t as quick to respond to illnesses as it was before pregnancy. Your body naturally lowers the immune system’s ability to protect you and respond to illnesses so that it can welcome your growing baby. But a lowered immune system means you’re more likely to catch illnesses like the flu.

Another reason the flu can be harmful during pregnancy is that your heart and lungs are already working hard to keep up with the demands of the growing fetus.  They can’t always keep up with the stress placed on them by influenza infection.  As a result, pregnant women are more likely to be hospitalized in intensive care and more likely to die from complications of flu.


If you think you might have the flu, call your health care provider right away.

Your doctor can give you antiviral medicines to help fight the flu, but you need a prescription for them. So call your doctor as soon as you have symptoms and are concerned.  It’s important to start these medicines right away.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends two antiviral medicines for flu. Talk to your provider about which medicine is right for you:

1.     Oseltamivir (Tamiflu) 2.     Zanamivir (Relenza)

Fever is a symptom of the flu that can last a week or longer. A fever caused by flu infection or other infections early in pregnancy can lead to birth defects in a fetus. Pregnant women who get a fever should call their doctor as soon as possible. You can ask your health care provider if you can take acetaminophen (Tylenol®) to bring down your fever.

And remember: It’s not too late to get the flu vaccine. It is offered in many locations, including doctor’s offices, clinics, health departments, and pharmacies. Visit the HealthMap Vaccine Finder to locate where you can get a flu shot.

For more information about pregnancy and flu:

March of Dimes



Your Nagging Cough Could Kill Someone’s Baby

Shot of Prevention

I could hear it clearly from across the auditorium.  A distinctive cough in a very small child.  It was painful to my ears and I brought a sinking feeling to my heart.  My daughter glanced over at me, alerted by the same sound, and we both mouthed those two horrible words…”whooping cough”.

In 2012 48,277 people were diagnosed with a bacterial infection known as Bordetella pertussis.  Also known as whooping cough, pertussis can cause severe coughing that can last for weeks or even months.  It is spread through droplets in the air and is extremely contagious.  In fact, when someone in the house has it, virtually everyone else in the house that is not immune will also get it.

In children pertussis is often identified by the “whooping” sound that is heard as they desperately try to catch their breath between coughs.  The coughing spells can be so bad that it’s difficult to eat, drink, sleep or breathe for weeks…

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2014 Flu Activity: Surprising or Not? (Shot of Prevention)

Originally posted in:


After the past few weeks of holiday get-togethers and extended traveling, it’s no surprise that the flu has arrived in the U.S. with a vengeance.  Colorado, like many other states, is reporting an alarming increase in influenza infections with 448 flu-associated hospitalizations so far this year. In New York state, reports indicate that flu cases are up 119%, with a 126% surge in flu related hospitalizations.  Similar news reports can be seen all across the country, with as many as 25 states reporting high flu activity.


As concerning as this is, it’s not all that surprising.  It is January after all.  And flu activity typically peaks in January or later.

But there have been a few surprises we’ve seen so far this season.

First, a Texas health care system recently reported eight flu-related deaths in its Travis County hospitals during December.  The H1N1 strain appears to be the most prevalent strain there.  But that was not the surprise.  The surprise was seeing which patients the strain was impacting the most.  While the flu is typically most dangerous for people over 65 and kids under five, doctors in Travis County indicated that the early strain of H1N1 hitting so far this season was targeting a different age range.

”Some of the sickest people we’re seeing with the flu are young and healthy people, 40- to 50-year-old people,” said Ross Tobleman, M.D., the medical director at the emergency department at Scott & White in Round Rock.  “For whatever reason, they just get really, really sick with this strain of the flu.”

Although flu vaccination rates have continued to climb in recent years, with last year’s flu vaccine uptake at about 56.6% for children through age 17 and 41.5% for adults, we don’t have enough data this season to determine which strain will be the most prevalent or dangerous, and which age group will suffer the most.

But there is one thing for sure.  There will be children who will die from the flu again this year.

So far there have been a total of six influenza-associated pediatric deaths reported for the 2013-2014 season.   And the death of a vaccinated 5-year-old boy, named Ronan, provided yet another surprise to some.

Vaccines are not 100% effective, 100% of the time.

Some people already know this and still find benefit in a vaccine that is less than 100% effective.  Others are surprised to learn this.  Still others try to use this information to suggest that vaccines don’t work.  However, I would argue that vaccines don’t have to be perfect to be valuable.

Even Ronan’s grieving mother, Calandra Burgess, cautions against that dangerous way of thinking.  She explains,

“All three of my children had the nasal spray. My other two kids didn’t get sick at all. Vaccines don’t work all the time. In this case it wasn’t a 100 percent guarantee, and people need to remember that.  It saved two of my children from getting horribly sick, and I will always make sure my family continues to get them each year.”

As she mourns the loss of her son Ronan, Calandra still sees the value of a less-than-perfect vaccine against a less-than-predictable disease like influenza.  And she credits the fact that her two surviving children were sparred from getting horribly sick with the fact that they were vaccinated.

This not-so-surprising story will inevitably make people wonder, just how effective is the flu vaccine? 

Image courtesy of Jeroen van Oostrom

Image courtesy of Jeroen van Oostrom

Interestingly enough, the CDC collects data throughout each flu season to determine how well the season’s flu vaccine worked among different age groups and against the specific flu viruses that were spreading during that season.  Last year’s data revealed that the influenza vaccine reduced the risk of having to visit the doctor due to flu by more than half.  While we have yet to achieve a 100% effective vaccine, we can be reassured that vaccination can significantly decrease our chances of having to suffer with the flu.

Fortunately, what we do know so far this season is that the strains which are circulating are also those included in the trivalent and quadrivalent influenza vaccines offered this season.  They include influenza A (H3N2), 2009 influenza A (H1N1), and influenza B viruses with the influenza A (H1N1) virus being predominate.

This supports the idea that widespread vaccination could directly reduce flu transmission and with large numbers of vaccinated people and a reduced amount of influenza circulating in our communities, we can effectively reduce the number of people exposed to the dangerous influenza virus in the first place, which then extends protection to those not vaccinated,  too young to be vaccinated or those in which the vaccine has not been effective.

As scientists continue to study the effects of the influenza vaccine, we are bound to discover more and more surprises. For instance, Canadian researchers have recently reported that influenza vaccination during pregnancy was associated with improved neonatal outcomes, including a lower risk for preterm birth and low birth weight.  They state:

“Our findings add to the existing body of evidence showing that seasonal influenza vaccination during pregnancy not only offers maternal benefits, but may also provide both prenatal benefits to the fetus and postnatal protection to the infant through transplacental antibodies.”

If you want to prevent the flu from surprising you this season, make sure you get yourself vaccinated.  With flu activity on the rise it’s best to get vaccinated right away, as it can take two weeks for antibodies to develop in your body after vaccination.  If you’re uncertain where to get a flu vaccine, check out the HealthMap Vaccine Finder.

For detailed information on flu activity and surveillance in the U.S. this season, check out these reports.

SAVE THE DATE – Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Polk County Immunization Coalition will be hosting its Second Annual Immunization Workshop on Saturday, May 3, 2014 from approximately 8:00 am to 1:30 pm.

Our Key Note speaker this year will be Dr. Raymond Strikas from the CDC.

Dr. Raymond A. Strikas is a medical officer in the Office of the Director, Immunization Services Division, NCIRD, CDC, HHS in Atlanta, Georgia.
Between 2006 and 2010 he worked at the National Vaccine Program Office at HHS in Washington, D.C. on pandemic influenza preparedness, seasonal influenza vaccination promotion, and coordinated revision of the United States National Vaccine Plan. He is an acknowledged national authority on vaccine-preventable diseases, the vaccines to prevent them, and he has authored or co-authored over 50 articles and book chapters on these subjects.

Please follow our site for additional information as it becomes available!