by Chelsea Ginn, FNP-BC
Cervical cancer is caused by a virus known as the human papillomavirus (HPV). Not only is it one of the few types of cancer for which the cause is known, but it’s also one of only two types of cancer that can be prevented with a vaccine. That’s good news because HPV is extremely common. It’s estimated that 80 percent of people will get the virus at some point in their lives, though most will never know they’ve been infected. When the infection doesn’t clear on its own, HPV can lead to genital warts or certain cancers. This includes cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancers in women, penile cancer in men, as well as anal cancer, and mouth/throat (oropharyngeal) cancer in both men and women.
In the United States alone, 27,000 people are diagnosed with an HPV-related cancer every year. That translates to a new case every 20 minutes!
Earlier this week, the Sun Journal reported that the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention raised the status of the flu in Maine to “widespread” after confirmed cases were found in all of Maine’s 16 counties. With reports that this flu season may be more severe due to the specific strains going around, it’s important that everyone six months and older receive a flu vaccination so that they have the best defense against the flu and its dangerous complications.
Why do Maine families need a flu vaccine every year?
When unusual diseases like Ebola take over the news, it’s easy to forget that one of the biggest threats to our health is much more common: influenza, also known as the flu. You may think the flu is no big deal, but complications from the flu can be serious and even life-threatening.
Influenza can be particularly harmful to young children, the elderly, pregnant women and those with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart disease. It can also claim the lives of healthy children and adults so we recommend that everyone six months and older get an influenza vaccine every year to help prevent the flu.
We’ve seen steady growth in readership on the Vax Maine Kids website, blog and Facebook page in 2014, and we are thankful for the support. As we continue our efforts to encourage parents to fully vaccinate their children throughout 2015, we’re hopeful that more people will turn to Vax Maine Kids for local, accurate, evidence-based vaccine information, news, and resources. After all, our goal is to help ensure Maine kids stay safe and healthy, which requires a commitment from parents, doctors, nurses, and public health professionals across the state.
In looking back on this past year, we would like to highlight some of our most popular posts in hopes that they will provide a snapshot of the valuable information we share on this forum and on our website. We would like to encourage you to revisit these posts and share them with friends and family to help us engage even more people in these important immunization discussions. Continue reading
Each year, we see unnecessary outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases here in Maine. This year, we’ve seen everything from pertussis to chickenpox outbreaks appearing in Washington County to Aroostook, Knox, Lincoln, Oxford, Penobscot and Waldo counties. As we look back on 2014, and think about how we can improve the health of Maine residents in 2015, we ask that Mainers commit themselves to giving the gift of health to themselves and each other throughout the New Year.
Just last week, the Franklin Sun Journal reported that a student from Livermore Elementary School was diagnosed with chickenpox. However, what begins as one case typically causes a ripple effect, impacting others students and sometimes entire communities.
As the Bangor Daily News reported,
“Under state law, in the absence of disease history or an exemption, Maine students must be vaccinated against chickenpox, as well as diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, measles, mumps and rubella. Students who cannot show a disease history or vaccination must be barred from school for 16 days. Exemptions include a physician’s written statement that immunization against the diseases may be medically inadvisable or a parent’s written statement opposing immunization because of religious beliefs or philosophical concerns.”
For many of us, the holidays are a time to gather with family and friends—but first, we have to get there. Flying or driving with kids during busy travel times can be challenging. But with a little advanced planning and the right attitude, traveling during the holidays can also be fun. Make your winter vacation a great family adventure with these tips for safe and happy holiday travels with kids!
Flying with Kids During the Holidays
- Smart packing saves the day. Carefully organizing your carry-on baggage can be the key to a successful flight.
- Give children their own backpack or carry-on bag filled with their favorite snacks, activities and treats. Reserve your own carry-on for boarding passes, identification and valuables.
- While it’s best to pack light, make sure you have more wipes, diapers, formula or breastmilk than you think you’ll need. If your plane is held on the tarmac or delayed, you could end up with just enough!
- Layer up. You may be heading to or from a warmer destination, but airports and airplanes can be chilly for children. Include one warm layer in your child’s carry-on, just in case.
This article originally appeared in the Maine Voices column of the Portland Press Herald on December 5, 2014 in honor of National Influenza Vaccination Week. The author, Dr. Jane Ho, is a pediatrician in Westbrook and clinical adviser to the MaineHealth Childhood Immunizations Program. In this article she explains that by vaccinating yourself and your family, you’re also helping to protect others in the community.
Several news articles published recently in the Portland Press Herald have addressed concerns over unvaccinated children in Maine. As a parent of three teen boys and a local pediatrician, it concerns me that our state has one of the highest percentages of kindergarten students who fail to receive school-required vaccinations. With diseases such as whooping cough and measles making a nationwide come-back, organizations such as VaxMaineKids, MaineHealth and the Maine Immunization Program are working harder than ever to protect Maine children, using safe and effective immunizations, from preventable diseases which can lead to other complications, and even death.
In honor of National Influenza Vaccination Week (Dec 7th – 13th), I want to draw attention to influenza, a disease that everyone 6 months of age and older should be vaccinated for each and every year. The flu infects millions of people every season, with fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches, fatigue, and miserable days spent in bed. It’s not a bad cold or a brief stomach bug. Influenza can be very serious.
While flu activity has remained sporadic throughout Maine during the past few weeks, we must remember that the flu season varies each year, so now is the time to get vaccinated to best protect yourself and your family. The severity of flu seasons can differ each year, and it’s estimated that over 200,000 people are hospitalized, and between 3,000 and 49,000 people die from flu annually in the United States.
Not only is this terribly tragic, it’s also highly preventable with a safe and effective vaccine. However, despite the dangers associated with the flu, only about 46% of people over six months of age got a flu vaccine last season.
Among the109 pediatric deaths that occurred last year, almost half were in previously healthy children, and 90% were in children who were unvaccinated. Sadly, some of these victims were too young to be vaccinated, and therefore relied on others in the community getting vaccinated to reduce the spread of influenza. Already, there have been five pediatric flu-related deaths in the 2014-2015 season. Continue reading
The holiday shopping season is now in full swing. At the same time as you’re making your list and checking it twice, it’s important to remember the importance of giving back. Fortunately, a new global tradition called #GivingTuesday unites people as they donate time and money to causes they care about. If you think every child deserves a shot at good health, we invite you to consider adding two charities to your #GivingTuesday list.
No matter what holiday traditions your family celebrates, the shopping frenzy that takes over the month of December can be challenging. We love making our children’s eyes light up with gifts, but we don’t want them to spend the entire holiday season completely obsessed with what they want to get. Raising grateful kids who give back to their community means creating holiday traditions that emphasize volunteer opportunities and charitable giving.
A new holiday tradition aims to do just that: #GivingTuesday.
This past weekend, families across the nation honored Family Volunteer Day by working together to change their communities for the better. Taking time as a family to help others sets the stage for a more meaningful holiday season, and it sets a wonderful example for children and teens. In fact, children who begin volunteering in their youth are twice as likely to volunteer as adults! This Thanksgiving, here are a few tips for teaching children the importance of giving thanks and giving back.
Teaching our children how to be grateful is a lifelong lesson. Children are taught the importance of community service and charitable giving in school and in some community and religious organizations, but these lessons have a greater impact when they see these values reflected at home. Children who volunteer in their youth are twice as likely to volunteer as adults, and children who witness their parents volunteering grow up to be the most dedicated and generous volunteers of all.
For thousands of years, breast milk has provided a complete source of nutrition and some immunity for babies to fight off certain kinds of infections and allergies. Of course, let’s not overlook breastfeeding’s bonding benefits! But as powerful as it is, breast milk can’t protect babies from everything, including dangerous diseases like measles and whooping cough. Luckily, today’s parents have a second line of defense: safe, effective, CDC-recommended vaccines. Through on-time immunizations, parents can protect to their babies from diseases, regardless of whether their babies are breastfed or not.
At Vax Maine Kids, we often say that every child who can get immunized should get immunized, and we feel the same way about breastfeeding. Just like on-time vaccinations, breastfeeding is a wonderful way to give babies a strong, healthy start on life. Both vaccines and breast milk are powerful immunity boosters, and they protect babies best when they work together. Breastfeeding alone just isn’t enough.
A brand-new study published in Pediatrics last month confirmed, yet again, that vaccines do not cause epilepsy, yet this myth continues to be talked about on social media, in blogs and amongst families and friends. Here is the truth about vaccines and fevers, seizures and epilepsy.
The first few years of a child’s life are a whirlwind of milestones and experiences both for the child and parents. It’s easy to get lost in all the activity. It’s also easy to assume that two things that happened close together are directly linked when they aren’t. That’s often the case with the presumed connection between epilepsy and vaccines. The fact is that children with epilepsy can experience their first seizures around the same time they are getting their first vaccinations, leading some parents to link the two. Many research studies have shown that this is just a coincidence, and childhood vaccinations do not cause epilepsy.
Here’s what you need to know…