Their Best Protection

January 01, 2014

As recent headlines have heralded the return of childhood diseases like pertussis (whooping cough) and measles, the prescription is in for parents: Make sure your kids are current on childhood vaccinations.

“If there were one thing you potentially fatal disease, then you would do it,” says Jocelyn Sevidal, MD, a pediatrician at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center. “Childhood vaccinations are the key.”

Dr. Sevidal cites 2012 as a bad year for whooping cough, which is very serious for infants and can be spread by parents or older siblings who may not even know they have it. To help protect babies too young to be fully vaccinated against the disease, pregnant women should be vaccinated in their third trimester, and family members and caregivers should be up to date on their vaccinations.

On another front, Warren Line, MD, an ear, nose and throat specialist at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center, says that in the last 10 years there has been a noticeable uptick in throat, tongue and tonsil cancer. Many of these cancers are HPV-related and their occurrence is higher in men than in women. Now, more is known about the protective benefits of the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine. “The HPV vaccine originally was thought only to protect women from cervical cancer,” Dr. Line notes, but now, more experts recommend the HPV vaccination for boys, too.