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Childhood Vaccinations FAQ



Frequently Asked Questions about Childhood Vaccinations

Collection maintained by: Lynn Gazis-Sax (lynng@alsirat.com)

To contribute to this collection, please send e-mail to the address given above, and ask me to add your comments to the FAQ file on vaccination. Please try to be as concise as possible, as these FAQ files tend to be quite long as it is. And, unless otherwise requested, your name and e-mail address will remain in the file, so that interested readers may follow-up directly for more information/discussion.

Copyright 1994-1999, Lynn Gazis-Sax. All rights reserved. Use and copying of this information are permitted as long as (1) no fees or compensation are charged for use, copies or access to this information, and (2) this copyright notice is included intact.

For a list of other FAQ topics, ftp to the pub/usenet/misc.kids directory of rtfm.mit.edu, look for the FAQ File Index posted to misc.kids weekly, or tune in to misc.kids.info.

[NOTE: this is information collected from many sources and while I have strived to be accurate and complete, I cannot guarantee that I have succeeded. This is not medical advice. For that, see your doctor or other health care provider.]

-1.1 What is vaccination?
The basic principle of vaccination is that a disease-causing agent ...
-1.2 What are active and passive vaccination?
Active immunization involves trying to stimulate antibodies by ...
-1.3 What is herd immunity?
If a large enough percentage of a population is immune to a disease,...
-1.4 How effective is vaccination at producing immunity?
Vaccination does not always work. For one thing, vaccines can ...
-1.5 What are some of the risks of vaccination?
Again, these risks vary with the vaccine. However, there are ...
-1.6 What are some contraindications to vaccinations?
Contraindications vary with the vaccine, so contraindications for ...
-1.7 How common are the diseases vaccinated against?
I have extracted from table number 190, in _Statistical Abstracts ...
-1.8 What percentage of children are vaccinated?
Some estimates of vaccination rates, from articles in World ...
-1.9 What are some sources of further information about vaccinations?
I don't have any addresses for information outside the US (except ...
-2.1 What is the recommended vaccination schedule in the US for infants?
The following schedule is based on the schedule published on ...
-2.2 What is the recommended vaccination schedule in the US for older children who were not vaccinated in infancy?
Schedules for people not vaccinated in infancy can be found, ...
-2.3 What is the recommended vaccination schedule in the US for adults?
If they haven't been vaccinated at all, see the answer to ...
-2.4 Who determines this schedule?
Two bodies set these schedules. They are the Immunization ...
-2.5.1 What is the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP)?
[Note: Answers to this and the following several questions ...
-2.5.2 What vaccines are covered?
Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (DTP, DT, TT, or Td), measles, mumps,...
-2.5.3 Who may file a claim?
A claim may be made for any injury or death thought to be a result ...
-2.5.4 Who can I contact to get more information about the Program?
1. The toll-free number for the National Vaccine Injury ...
-2.5.5 What is VAERS?
[LG: Information about VAERS excerpted and summarized from ...
-2.5.6 Who can report to VAERS?
Any one can report to VAERS. VAERS reports are usually submitted ...
-2.5.7 What events should be reported to VAERS?
The NCVIA requires the reporting of any events in the ...
-2.5.8 Are all events reported to VAERS caused by vaccinations?
Again, VAERS accepts all reports of adverse events ...
-2.5.9 How can I get rapid information on VAERS, such as how to file a report?
There is a toll-free VAERS information line that is ...
-2.5.10 Have there been any comprehensive scientific studies on adverse events following immunization?
Yes. In 1986, the US Congress mandated the Institute of Medicine ...
-2.5.11 Are VAERS data available to the public?
Yes. Once any identifying information is removed, VAERS data are ...
-2.6 What vaccination schedules are used in other countries?
Routine vaccination is practiced in many countries, but ...
-2.7 What international bodies are concerned with vaccinations?
The World Health Service Expanded Programme on Immunization works ...
-3a.1 What is diptheria, and what are the risks of the disease?
Diptheria is a contagious disease affecting the nose, throat, ...
-3a.2 How common was diptheria before routine vaccination, and how common is it now?
In 1900, there were 40.3 deaths per 100,000 population from ...
-3a.3 How effective is the diptheria vaccine?
The fatality rate in immunized populations is one-tenth that in ...
-3a.4 How long does the diptheria vaccine last?
Ten years.
-3a.5 What is pertussis, and what are the risks of the disease?
Pertussis, or whooping cough, is a very contagious disease of ...
-3a.6 How common was pertussis before routine vaccination, and how common is it now?
[Note: This section may be outdated, since the introduction of the ...
-3a.7 How effective is the whole cell pertussis vaccine?
It's one of the less effective childhood vaccinations. The ...
-3a.8 How long does the pertussis vaccine last?
It doesn't. According to _Harrison's Internal Medicine_, ...
-3a.9 What is tetanus, and what are the risks of the disease?
Tetanus is very dangerous. Even with antibiotics, mortality can be 40%...
-3a.10 How common was tetanus before routine vaccination, and how common is it now?
300,000 to 500,000 cases are reported worldwide, with a mortality ...
-3a.11 How effective is the tetanus vaccine?
According to Taking Care of Your Child, Tetanus is one of our ...
-3a.12 How long does the tetanus vaccine last?
Generally ten years. In the case of a really dirty wound, a booster ...
-3a.13 What are some of the risks of the DTP vaccine?
DTP, particularly in its earlier form (with the whole cell ...
-3a.14 Did SIDS disappear in Japan after the Japanese changed their pertussis vaccination policy in 1975?
This claim is examined at length by Lon Morgan, DC,DABCO in his ...
-3a.15 When is the DTP vaccine contraindicated?
Hypersensitivity to a vaccine component, including thimerosal, ...
-3a.16 What are the advantages and disadvantages of the new acellular pertussis vaccine?
The big advantage is that the acellular vaccine has fewer ...
-3a.17 What are some of the risks of the DT (diptheria and tetanus) vaccine?
Most of the risk in the DTP vaccine comes from its ...
-3a.18 When is the DT vaccine contraindicated?
Should be avoided during the first trimester of pregnancy. People ...
-3a.19 Under what circumstances is tetanus toxoid given to pregnant women?
Tetanus toxoid is given to pregnant women in countries where there ...
-3b.1 What is polio, and what are the risks of the disease?
Polio is a contagious viral disease which crippled tens of ...
-3b.2 How effective is the polio vaccine?
The Merck Manual and the Physician's Desk Reference give ...
-3b.3 How long does the polio vaccine last?
It provides lifelong immunity....
-3b.4 What is the difference between oral polio vaccine (OPV) and inactivated polio vaccine (IPV)?
Oral polio vaccine provides better immunity, and was until ...
-3b.5 I've heard that it is possible to contract polio from handling the diapers of recently immunized infants. How long after receiving the vaccine does the child's excrement continue to contain the virus?
*************************************************************************...
-3b.6 What are some other risks of the polio vaccine?
A small risk of anaphylactic shock....
-3b.7 When is the polio vaccine contraindicated?
Because of the small risk of paralytic polio in recipients and ...
-3b.8 Isn't it true that wild polio has been eliminated in the US?
From Mike Dedek:...
-3b.9 Why are we still vaccinating for polio, then?
The AAP and ACIP continue to recommend vaccination for polio ...
-3c.1 What is measles, and what are the risks of the disease?
Measles is one of the most contagious infectious diseases. A ...
-3c.2 How common was measles before routine vaccination, and how common is it now?
*************************************************************************...
-3c.3 How effective is the measles vaccine?
The Merck Manual and the Physician's Desk Reference estimate ...
-3c.4 How long does the measles vaccine last?
The Merck Manual describes it as durable. The PDR says that all ...
-3c.5 What are some of the risks of the measles vaccine?
There is a small chance of complications similar to the ...
-3c.2. There is some risk of anaphylaxis. This risk is low; from the time that VAERS was instituted in 1990 till the publication of Update: Vaccine Side Effects, Adverse Reactions, Contraindications, and Precautions by ACIP in 1996, >70 million doses of MMR vaccine had been distributed in the US, and only 33 cases of anaphylactic reactions had been reported to VAERS. It has been traditionally believed that this risk is mainly for people allergic to eggs or neomycin. However, recent studies indicate that anaphylactic reactions are not associated with egg allergies, but with some other component of the vaccine. There have been some case reports, in the US and Japan, of anaphylactic reactions to the MMR vaccine in people with an anaphylactic sensitivity to gelatin.
In rare instances, MMR vaccine can cause clinically ...
-3c.6 What is mumps, and what are the risks of the disease?
Mumps is a viral disease which is less contagious than measles ...
-3c.7 How common was mumps before routine vaccination, and how common is it now?
105,00 cases were reported in 1970; by 1990 the rate of reported ...
-3c.8 How effective is the mumps vaccine?
The Merck Manual estimates its effectiveness at 95%. The Physician'...
-3c.9 How long does the mumps vaccine last?
-3c.10 What are some of the risks of the mumps vaccine?
Rarely, side effects of mumps vaccination have been reported,...
-3c.11 What is rubella, and what are the risks of the disease?
Rubella is a mild illness, consisting of a mild fever and rash. ...
-3c.12 How common was rubella before routine vaccination, and how common is it now?
Before the development of the rubella vaccine, epidemics used to ...
-3c.13 How effective is the rubella vaccine?
The Merck Manual estimates its effectiveness at 95%. The Physician'...
-3c.14 How long does the rubella vaccine last?
-3c.15 What are the pros and cons of vaccinating all infants for rubella versus vaccinating females only at puberty?
There is still some uncertainty about the most desirable ...
-3c.16 What are some of the risks of the rubella vaccine?
The PDR has a long list of possible adverse reactions (...
-3c.17 When is the MMR vaccine contraindicated?
People with an anaphylactic or anaphylactoid allergy to eggs ...
-3d.1 What is hemophilus influenze B, and what are the risks of the disease?
-3d.2 How common was HiB before routine vaccination, and how common is it now?
Before routine vaccination, about 12,000 cases a year in the US, ...
-3d.3 How effective is the HiB vaccine?
Estimates from different labs vary a lot. AHFS Drug Information, ...
-3d.4 How long does the HiB vaccine last?
The duration of immunity is unknown. However, the disease is ...
-3d.5 What are some of the risks of the HiB vaccine?
In a study of 401 infants, fever occurred in 2%, and redness, warmth,...
-3d.6 When is the HiB vaccine contraindicated?
Hypersensitivity to any component of the vaccine, including ...
-3d.7 What about rifampin prophylaxis?
An alternative to HiB vaccination is rifampin prophylaxis, but ...
-3e.1 What is hepatitis B, and what are the risks of the disease?
There are several forms of hepatitis, infections of the liver ...
-3e.2 How common is hepatitis B?
The estimated lifetime risk of HBV infection in the United ...
-3e.3 What is hepatitis B gamma globulin, and when is it given?
It is given to people who have already been exposed to hepatitis B, ...
-3e.4 How long does the immunity provided by hepatitis B gamma globulin last?
Two months, maybe longer....
-3e.5 What are the risks and contraindications of hepatitis B gamma globulin?
No known contraindications. A couple of diseases (see PDR for ...
-3e.6 How effective is the hepatitis B vaccine?
It varies depending on the age, sex, and general health of ...
-3e.7 How long does the hepatitis B vaccine last?
There is evidence that immunity lasts up to ten years, but ...
-3e.8 What are some of the risks of the hepatitis B vaccine?
Hepatitis B has traditionally been considered one of the safest ...
-3e.9 When is the hepatitis B vaccine contraindicated?
Sensitivity to yeast or any other component of the vaccine. ...
-3e.10 Why did the ACIP and AAP change their recommendation about the hepatitis B vaccine?
Up until 1992, the recommendation was that hepatitis B vaccine ...
-3e.11 Does vaccination for hepatitis B affect one's ability to donate blood?
-3e.12 Do people who have showed up positive on the blood banks' tests for hepatitis B exposure still need to be vaccinated?
It is still useful to be vaccinated, because some of the people ...
-3e.13 I will be travelling to an area where hepatitis B shots are recommended, but I have less than six months before I leave. Is there an accelerated schedule for hepatitis B vaccination?
_Travel Medicine Advisor_ lists an accelerated schedule, with 3 ...
-3f.1 What is influenza, and what are the risks of the disease?
Influenza has a fairly high mortality rate among the elderly and ...
-3f.2 How common is influenza?
Outbreaks of flu occur almost every year, generally in the winter, ...
-3f.3 How effective is the influenza vaccine?
About 70-80% in young, healthy adults. About 50% effective in ...
-3f.4 How long does the influenza vaccine last?
It has to be repeated every year, as the strains of influenza ...
-3f.5 What are some of the risks of the influenza vaccine?
Public confidence in flu shots was reduced by the swine ...
-3f.6 When is the influenza vaccine recommended?
It is recommended for people who are over 65 and for people ...
-3f.7 When is the influenza vaccine contraindicated?
Egg allergy, hypersensitivity to thimerosal. Delay in case of ...
-3f.8 Is it OK to be vaccinated for influenza during pregnancy?
It depends. When this topic has come up on misc.kids, people ...
-3g.1 What is pneumococcal disease, and what are the risks of the disease?
It causes ear infections and sinusitis in children, and ...
-3g.2 How common is pneumococcal disease?
From Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics, Behrman and Vaughn, eds.,...
-3g.3 How effective is the pneumococcal vaccine?
It protects against 23 strains of pneumococcus, 85% of those ...
-3g.4 How long does the pneumococcal vaccine last?
According to a chart I got from Kaiser, one dose is good for life,...
-3g.5 What are some of the risks of the pneumococcal vaccine?
Discomfort at injection in 30-40% of recipients, and fever in 5-20% ...
-3g.6 When is the pneumococcal vaccine recommended?
It is recommended for children 2 or older who are at increased risk ...
-3g.7 When is the pneumococcal vaccine contraindicated?
It should not be given to children under 2. It also shouldn't be ...
-3h.1 What is meningococcal disease, and what are the risks of the disease?
Meningococcal disease is a rare disease which causes meningitis ...
-3h.2 How common is meningococcal disease?
About 2,500 cases a year in the US, but tens of thousands annually ...
-3h.3 How effective is the meningococcal vaccine?
The current vaccine not highly immunogenic in children under 2, ...
-3h.4 How long does the meningococcal vaccine last?
I don't have this information....
-3h.5 What are some of the risks of the meningococcal vaccine?
Adverse reactions are infrequent and mild, mostly redness at ...
-3h.6 When is the meningococcal vaccine recommended?
For children with certain types of immune disorders and ...
-3h.7 When is the meningococcal vaccine contraindicated?
I haven't found any, except pregnancy (when it should be given only ...
-3i.0 Varicella (chicken pox) vaccine
[Note: The varicella section has been modified slightly ...
-3i.1 What is chicken pox, and what are the risks of the disease?
Varicella or chickenpox is a highly contagious disease caused ...
-3i.2 How common is chicken pox?
An estimated 3.7 million Americans are affected by chickenpox ...
-3i.3 What is Herpes Zoster?
Following chickenpox infection, the varicella zoster virus persists ...
-3i.4 What is the current recommendation for the chicken pox vaccine be part for children?
The chickenpox (varicella) vaccine was first licensed for use ...
-3i.5 What is the current recommendation for adults?
*************************************************************************...
-3i.6 How effective is the chicken pox vaccine?
Clinical trials, which span a decade and involved more than 11,...
-3i.7 How long does the chicken pox vaccine last?
We don't know yet. It is estimated to last at least ...
-3i.8 What reactions have been reported following the chickenpox vaccine?
Adverse reactions reported were mild and included redness, ...
-3i.9 Will a second dose be necessary in younger children?
The question of a booster dose remains uncertain at this point. ...
-3i.10 For which groups is the chicken pox vaccine especially recommended?
People with HIV, nephrosis, severe asthma, and similar ...
-3i.11 When is the chicken pox vaccine contraindicated?
*************************************************************************...
-3i.12 Is there a gamma globulin for chicken pox?
Yes, but it is only available to people at especially high risk ...
-3j.0 BCG (tuberculosis) vaccine
[This section last updated on September 25, 1999, based on the ...
-3j.1 What is tuberculosis, and what are the risks of the disease?
Tuberculosis is a chronic bacterial infection that is spread ...
-3j.2 How common is tuberculosis?
In 1930, mortality was 101.5 per 100,000 population in the US. ...
-3j.3 How effective is the BCG vaccine?
The AHFS Drug Information, 1992 says that its effectiveness ...
-3j.4 How long does the BCG vaccine last?
It is of limited duration (Ryan). _AHFS Drug Information_ says ...
-3j.5 What are some of the risks of the BCG vaccine?
It rarely has serious side effects. (See _AHFS Drug Information_ for ...
-3j.6 When is the BCG vaccine recommended?
BCG vaccine is given in developing countries because it is easy ...
-3j.7 When is the BCG vaccine contraindicated?
Hypersensitivity to the vaccine, positive TB skin test, ...
-3j.8 What are some other methods of controlling tuberculosis?
Tuberculin skin screening and use of drugs such ...
-3k.0 Hepatitis A
[Hepatitis A: The following was taken from an article in JAMA (...
-3k.1 What is hepatitis A and what are the risks of the disease?
There are several forms of hepatitis (infection of the liver) ...
-3k.2 How common is hepatitis A?
During the past several decades, the incidence of hepatitis A in ...
-3k.3 Who is at risk for acquiring hepatitis A?
International travelers and individuals residing in hepatitis ...
-3k.4 Is there a vaccine to protect against hepatitis A?
Yes, the FDA licensed the hepatitis A vaccine for use in persons ...
-3k.5 How is it to be administered?
According to the labeling, the vaccine is given in a two-dose ...
-3k.6 How effective is the vaccine?
A single dose of the vaccine induced antibodies in 88% to 96% ...
-3k.7 How long does immunity last?
Firm data on long-term protection are limited because the vaccine ...
-3k.8 What are some of the risks of the vaccine?
Information on adverse events comes from prelicensure clinical ...
-3k.9 When is hepatitis A vaccine contraindicated?
The vaccine should not be administered to persons with a history ...
-3k.10 What groups at risk are be included in a recommendation to receive hepatitis A vaccination?
ACIP recommends the vaccine for:...
-3k.11 Is it possible that hepatitis A vaccine (like hepatitis B vaccine) might eventually be recommended for routine administration to children and adults?
Those in public health say that control of hepatitis A infection ...
-3l.1 What is rotavirus, and what are the risks of the disease?
Rotavirus is one of the major causes of gastroenteritis among ...
-3l.2 How common is rotavirus?
The AAP Committee on Infections Diseases estimates that rotavirus ...
-3l.3 What is the current status of the rotavirus vaccine?
On October 15, 1999, Wyeth Lederle Vaccines announced that it ...
-3l.4 How effective is the rotavirus vaccine?
Although the rotavirus vaccine has been withdrawn as of October, 1999,...
-3l.5 Is the rotavirus vaccine effective for breastfeeding infants?
Although the rotavirus vaccine has been withdrawn as of October, 1999,...
-3l.6 How long does the rotavirus vaccine last?
Although the rotavirus vaccine has been withdrawn as of October, 1999,...
-3l.7 What is intussusception?
Intussusception is a bowel obstruction in which one segment of ...
-3l.8 What is the relationship between the rotavirus vaccine and intussusception?
15 cases of intussusception, possibly associated with ...
-3l.9 Why was a connection between the rotavirus vaccine and intussusception not observed prior to FDA approval of the vaccine?
Approval by the FDA only requires trials on about 5,000-10,...
-3l.10 What other reactions have been reported following the rotavirus vaccine?
Although the rotavirus vaccine has been withdrawn as of October, 1999,...
-3l.11 Can the rotavirus vaccine be effectively used in developing countries?
Price may be the major barrier, as it is one of the more ...
-3l.12 When is the rotavirus vaccine contraindicated?
Although the rotavirus vaccine has been withdrawn as of October, 1999,...
-3m.1 What other vaccines are available and when are they given?
Other vaccines available include vaccines for cholera, ...
-3n.0 Vaccines under development
[This section most recently updated on September 18, 1999. ...
-3n.1 What vaccines are currently under development?
New vaccines under development include vaccines for HIV (vaccines ...
-3n.2 What other research is being done to improve vaccines?
Research is being done to improve existing vaccines (such as ...
-4.0 References
AAP recommendations (found at http://www.aap.org)....
-5.0 Stories of Parents
The questions asked were as follows:...
-5.1 Story From: Paula Burch
We choose to give our son all of his vaccinations as recommended ...
-5.2 Story From: jag@ampex.com (Rayaz Jagani)
(It would be easier to answer/comment if the questions ...
-5.3 Story: infant seizures after vaccination
From: mcdonald@aries.scs.uiuc.edu (J. D. McDonald)...
-5.4 Story: From: madrone@cruzio.com
In article you write:...
-5.5 Story: From: kellihmt@ausable.crd.ge.com (Margaret T Kelliher)
Lynn,
-5.6 Story: From: carolp@teleport.com (Carolyn Peterson)
Pertussis vaccine....
-5.7 Story: From: Diane Lin
Our son has been given the full range of immunizations--polio, ...
-5.8 Story: Immunization story
From: sunfire@earthlink.net (Joseph Karr O'Connor)...
-5.9 Story: To Whom It May Concern
[update: The original story was deleted at the request of its writer]...
-5.10 Story: Vaccines From: CRSinc@GroupZ.net (ALF)
This is on my home page. Stay tuned to this page. ...
-5.11 Story: From: bullard
I'll be brief. I strongly believe that vaccinations are out there ...
-5.12 Story: From: Erin & Sam Viniegra
I feel I need to share the tormenting decision I had to make ...
-5.13 Story: From: mstopp (Beth Topp)
[This story consists of excerpts from a much longer ...









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