Hepatitis A & B

These are viral infections of the liver, the B version is more serious but less contagious, primarily transmitted through intimate contact. The vaccines are safe and effective and are producing substantial decreases in the incidence of these diseases.

Pentacel

This is a 5 in 1 shot against diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), tetanus, polio, and haemophilus influenzae b. Haemophilus influenzae b is a bacterium which used to cause the large majority of cases of the very dangerous disease bacterial meningitis, infection of the lining of the brain and spinal cord. It also caused a rare but life-threatening infection in the throat called epiglottitis. Since the vaccine came out (mid 80’s), these have all but disappeared. Polio was at one time a scourge in our country, causing many cases of paralysis and death. The first polio vaccine came out when I was a child and the disease disappeared over the next decade. The old version of this shot (DPT) used an older version of the whooping cough portion which caused many more side effects. Today’s Pentacel uses an acellular version of whooping cough which causes many fewer reactions.

Rotateq

A vaccine to protect children from rotavirus. This virus causes most of the acute gastroenteritis, which is an illness of vomiting and diarrhea. It is given only to infants at 2, 4, and 6 months of age as a series.

Prevnar

This is a vaccine against the common strains of a germ called streptococcus pneumonia. This germ causes many of the respiratory infections in children, ear and sinus especially. On occasion this germ can become invasive and aggressive and produce an overwhelming and life-threatening bacterial blood-born infection. This vaccine has dramatically reduced these diseases.

MMR

Measles, mumps, and rubella, all have become historical footnotes for the most part. Measles was an especially common and often dangerous illness when I was a child. In some countries where rates of vaccination against measles have declined (when some people chose to vaccinate their children), new outbreaks of measles have occurred.

Varicella

Chicken pox will eventually go into the history books as well. Usually a non-serious infection, it nevertheless caused about two hundred deaths annually before the campaign began in 1995 to vaccine children against it.

Gardasil

A vaccine to protect both boys and girls from infection with human papillomavirus. This virus is believed to cause virtually 100% of cases of cervical cancer in women and now has been shown to be the main cause of throat and tonsil cancer in both men and women. The vaccine is recommended to be given between the age of 9-26. 

Menactra

A vaccine against neisseria meningiditis, a bacterium which causes rare but frequently fatal infections called meningicoccemia or meningicoccal meningitis.  These occur most commonly among adolescents and young adults.  Current recommendation is an initial dose at 11-12 years of age, and a booster dose after age 16.