Home
|
About IAC
|
Contact
|
A-Z Index
|
Donate
|
Shop
|
SUBSCRIBE
Immunization Action Coalition
Unprotected People Reports 
General
Chickenpox (varicella)
Diphtheria
Hib
Hepatitis A
Hepatitis B
HPV
Influenza
Measles
Meningococcal
Mumps
Pertussis
Pneumococcal
Polio
Rabies
Rotavirus
Rubella
Shingles (zoster)
Tetanus
Yellow Fever
Reports by Disease
Reports by Number

Unprotected People Reports: General

Infection Control Nurse Urges Parents to Support U.S. Vaccine Program

Click here for a fully-formatted PDF version of this report
I am an infection control nurse practicing at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. In the United States we enjoy freedom from many vaccine-preventable diseases that killed or caused severe morbidity at the beginning of this century. Most people view these vaccine-preventable diseases as curiosities, as exceptions to the rule. Yet these diseases have not been defeated, and in my job I see firsthand what happens when parents do not vaccinate their children.

At Vanderbilt, we continue to see these diseases; particularly in immigrant groups who are sometimes not immunized by U.S. standards, and within certain religious groups that refuse vaccination. Lately, parent-inspired groups are encouraging other parents to opt out of the traditional vaccine regimen. These groups use the Internet to promote scare tactics and misinformation. As a result, I have recently seen more cases of childhood preventable diseases in my daily practice.

I have watched helplessly as infants with pertussis turn blue after an agonizing coughing spell. These children get a wild, frightened look in their eyes as they gasp for breath. They usually vomit after their coughing spell, then collapse into a tired heap to rest up before the next session. Adults with pertussis can cough so hard that they break ribs. Can you imagine what a small child is going through? I have also seen cases progress into respiratory arrest and death, or brain damage due to hypoxia. Why would any parent put their child at such a risk?

In middle Tennessee, we have experienced an increase in immigrants from Mexico, and many of the adults have never been immunized against rubella. At Vanderbilt, we have had cases of congenital rubella, something I would  never have guessed I would see in my lifetime. The two infected infants with whom I worked were deaf, blind, had brain damage, and severe heart defects. Neither infant survived. I saw their parents huddled over their cribs, powerless to do anything for their children. Other diseases like diphtheria could possibly make a comeback in this country. Diphtheria is a disease that causes a membrane to form across the trachea, slowly suffocating the patient if untreated. At the turn of the century, an outbreak of diphtheria claimed the lives of children and adults in Nome, Alaska, but we have had very few cases in the United States recently. However, after the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russia experienced a serious epidemic of diphtheria that lasted for years.

From an infection control standpoint, I cannot help but wonder at the havoc that would be generated if most parents decided not to vaccinate their children against these "outdated" diseases. Hospitals would start to fill up with children stricken with measles and chickenpox, and because of the extremely contagious nature of these diseases, the victims would have to be placed in rooms with special air filters and negative air flow to keep the disease from spreading to the leukemia patient down the hall. How many isolation rooms would we need to handle America's children?

I have seen the news media run specials on the "evils" of vaccines, interviewing vaccine "victims." These reporters never interview the millions of immunized, healthy, and disease-free children--that would be boring! When I began my infection control experience at Vanderbilt, we saw a lot of meningitis cases caused by Haemophilus influenzae type b. The disease was spread person-to-person by direct contact or from respiratory droplets, so infants in daycare were particularly susceptible. These children would often die or suffer brain damage if they survived. In the late 1980s, immunization with Hib vaccine was begun and the number of Hib meningitis cases dropped to near zero. Yet I never saw a "Dateline" or "20/20" episode on that success story.

There is nothing worse to a parent than losing a child, nothing. Nothing can ease the pain. I know because I have experienced that pain. I lost my own son to congenital heart disease. I too, had to pick out a coffin instead of a birthday gift. I go to a grave site instead of a birthday party. My son's congenital heart disease was random and not preventable. Pertussis, measles, mumps, and rubella are preventable. 

Dr. David Satcher, the U.S. Surgeon General, has pointed out that Australia, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Japan, and Russia all learned the hard way that if you cut vaccine programs, infectious diseases return with a vengeance. With this experience, these countries reinstated their immunization programs. I urge everyone to support our nation's vaccine program, and to encourage its growth to better protect all citizens from preventable disease.

Vicki Brinsko, RN, CIC
Infection Control Coordinator
Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Nashville, Tennessee
 
2/22/00 • REPORT #22
Disclaimer: The Immunization Action Coalition (IAC) publishes Unprotected People Reports for the purpose of making them available for our readers' review. We have not verified the content of this report.
 
- Guide to immunize.org -
A-Z INDEX
ABOUT IAC
ACIP RECOMMENDATIONS
ADULT VACCINATION
ADULT VACCINATION GUIDE
ADULT VACCINATION
RESOURCES LIBRARY (AVRL)
ASK THE EXPERTS
Combination Vaccines
Diphtheria
Hepatitis A
Hepatitis B
Question of the Week
Vaccine Storage and Handling
What's New
>> view all
BIRTH DOSE GUIDEBOOK
BOOKS & PERIODICALS
CALENDAR
CDC SCHEDULES
CLINIC RESOURCES
Administering Vaccines
Documenting Vaccination
Coding & Billing
Scheduling Vaccination
Screening for Contraindications
Storage & Handling
Vaccine Recommendations
>> view all
COALITIONS
COCOONING
CONTINUING EDUCATION
CONTRIBUTE TO IAC
DEAR COLLEAGUE LETTER
HPV VACCINE
DEAR COLLEAGUE LETTER
MCV4 DOSE #2
DIRECTORY OF RESOURCES
DISEASES & VACCINES
Diphtheria
Hepatitis A
Hepatitis B
Influenza
Varicella
>> view all
DONATE TO IAC
EDUCATIONAL MATERIALS
FAQs
FDA PRODUCT APPROVALS
GIVE BIRTH TO THE END OF
HEP B
HANDOUTS FOR PATIENTS &
STAFF
Administering Vaccines
Adult Vaccination
Documenting Vaccinations
Medical Management
Parent Handouts
Patient Schedules
Questions & Answers
Recommendations
Screening Questionnaires
Standing Orders
Storage & Handling
Supplies Checklist
Talking with Parents
Temperature Logs
Translations
Vaccine Index
Vaccine Reactions
>> view all
HEPATITIS B BIRTH DOSE
HONOR ROLLS
HepB Birth Dose
Influenza Vaccination for HCP
IAC EXPRESS
IMAGES
IMMUNIZATION TECHNIQUES DVD
IMMUNIZATION TOPICS
Adoption
Healthcare Personnel
Mandates & Exemptions
Pregnancy
Tattoos & Piercings
>> view all
 
LAMINATED SCHEDULES
NEEDLE TIPS
NEWS & INFORMATION
OFFICIAL RELEASES
ACIP
CDC
FDA
>> view all
PACKAGE INSERTS
PHARMACISTS
PHOTOS
POCKET GUIDES
POWERPOINT SLIDE SETS
PRESS ROOM
PROTECT NEWBORNS
FROM HEP B
PUBLICATIONS
IAC Express
Needle Tips
Vaccinate Adults
THE PURPLE BOOK
QUESTION OF THE WEEK
REGISTRIES
RESOURCE DIRECTORY
SCHOOL-LOCATED VACCINATION
SHOP IAC
Immunization Techniques DVD
Laminated Schedules
Patient Record Cards
The Vaccine Handbook
>> view all
SITE MAP
SLIDE SETS
STATE INFORMATION
State Websites
State Laws
State Immunization Managers
>> view all
SUBSCRIBE
SUPPORT IAC
TECHNICALLY SPEAKING
TRANSLATE FOR IAC
TRAVEL (INTERNATIONAL)
UNPROTECTED PEOPLE REPORTS
Chickenpox
Diphtheria
Hepatitis A
Hepatitis B
>> view all
VACCINATE ADULTS
VACCINE CONCERNS
Adjuvants & Ingredients
Alternative Medicine
Autism
Importance of Vaccination
>> view all
THE VACCINE HANDBOOK
VACCINE INFORMATION STATEMENTS
Translations
Vaccine Index
>> view all
VACCINE POLICY & LICENSURE
ACIP
FDA
WHO
>> view all
VACCINE SAFETY
VACCINES & DISEASES
VIDEOS (VIDEO OF THE WEEK)
WHAT'S NEW OR UPDATED AT IAC
Handouts
VISs
Web Sections
>> view all
 
Immunization Action Coalition  •  2550 University Avenue West  •  Suite 415 North  •  Saint Paul, Minnesota  •  55114
tel 651-647-9009  •  fax 651-647-9131
 
 
 
This website is supported in part by a cooperative agreement from the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (Grant No. 6NH23IP22550) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, GA. The website content is the sole responsibility of IAC and does not necessarily represent the official views of CDC.