Make sure your family is protected against tetanus

Summer fun often includes lots of time outside, and more than likely some of that time is spent barefoot. When shoes are optional, cuts and scrapes happen more often. Bacteria in the soil can work their way into your body through those cuts and scrapes and make you sick with tetanus.

What is tetanus?

Tetanus is a bacterial infection that affects your nervous system. The bacteria invade the body and produce a toxin that causes your muscles to tighten and cramp painfully. Infection mainly affects the neck, chest, and stomach. Complete recovery can take months, and if it’s not treated it can be deadly. The last reported case in Idaho was in 2013. Continue reading

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Are your children current on their immunizations?

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(Note: A Closer Look At Your Health airs at 6:50 a.m. most Tuesdays on KBOI News Radio 670. This is an edited transcript of the segment from April 19.)

This week is a good time to ponder that question because it’s National Infant Immunization Week, and World Immunization Week is next week. It’s a good time to talk about making sure you and your family are fully protected against infectious diseases.

This week, the focus is on infants. Why infants specifically instead of all children?

While it’s important that all children have received the recommended vaccinations, giving babies the recommended immunizations by the time they are 2 is the best way to protect them from 14 serious childhood diseases, including whooping cough and measles. Parents are encouraged to talk to their child’s doctor to make sure their babies’ immunizations are up-to-date. Continue reading

Idaho leads the nation for number of immunization exemptions for kindergartners

New vaccination exemption data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows Idaho led the nation for school immunization exemption rates during the 2014-2015 school year. The recently published data show 6.5% of Idaho kindergarten students had an exemption on file for at least one vaccine when they registered for school.

Idaho allows immunization exemptions for religious, medical, or philosophical reasons. Of the 6.5% of Idaho’s kindergarteners with an exemption on file, 5.6% were for philosophical reasons, while 0.3% were medical and 0.6% were religious exemptions.

The high exemption rate is concerning for public health and school officials, along with parents of children attending schools.  “Having a high percentage of students who are not fully protected from preventable diseases is concerning, especially for other children who cannot receive vaccine protection because of medical conditions,” says Dr. Christine Hahn M.D., Idaho Public Health Medical Director.  “Many parents sign an exemption for convenience; it may be the path of least resistance when registering a child for school who is behind on their vaccine schedule. However, that path can lead to serious illness to their children or classmates. We believe Idaho can do better.”

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