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Disease Prevention: Keeping Our Community Healthy

Children's Immunizations

The thought of a schedule can be intimidating. They can be complicated to create, follow, and maintain.

Children’s immunization schedules are no exception. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that this schedule, which includes the prevention of 13 diseases, be carefully followed.  Packard Health understands that taking the time to educate our patients’ parents or guardians about each vaccination on the schedule is an important part of this process.  Packard Health providers are willing and eager to answer questions and discuss concerns around vaccinations.

The global pandemic has caused fear and uncertainty about leaving the safety of home and risking exposure.  While no public place can be deemed entirely “safe,” a medical facility rests at the top of the list of the safest given the safety and cleaning protocols and procedures firmly in place, such as enforcing mask wearing, physical distancing, and plexiglass barriers.  Skipping an important medical appointment can have serious consequences.  Packard Health is helping to ensure that its patients’ medical needs, including disease prevention, are attended to during COVID-19.

“The avoidable suffering and death caused by children missing out on routine immunizations could be far greater than COVID-19 itself,” according to Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, World Health Organization Director-General. “But it doesn’t have to be that way. Vaccines can be delivered safely even during the pandemic.”

Echoing such statements on the importance of vaccinations is Packard Health Nurse Practitioner Cathy Buiten, APRN-C.

“SARS-CoVid-19 has rocked the world,” said Buiten. “More personally it has taken us away from school, work, and the gym, and it has taken some we love in painful ways.  Scientists are developing vaccines to prevent us from this personally, socially, and economically destructive disease.”

In the meantime, we need to continue to take advantage of the vaccines we already have. It is easy to forget the tragedies that led to their development.

Buiten shared a story about a childhood neighbor. “She had polio. She remembered being sent to the Shriners Hospitals for Children in Chicago for eight months in her childhood.  No one from her family could visit her.  She was disabled until her natural death at age 88.”  According to Buiten, since the development of vaccinations to combat polio, there has not been a case of type 2 wild poliovirus since 1999, and cases of type 3 wild poliovirus have not been found anywhere in the world since 2012.

It can be difficult for the current, post-vaccine generations to comprehend what life was truly like during those times. In some way, the fear that has resulted from the current pandemic gives us all a taste. The significant drop in the number of vaccinations since the pandemic began is of great concern. While vaccinations have been challenged, they work, but only when widely administered.

“Smallpox was the first disease combated with a vaccine, which was developed in 1796.  We no longer immunize the general population against smallpox,” shared Buiten. “However, measles, pertussis, hepatitis and other diseases run through our world.  Fortunately, we have immunizations that prevent these diseases from having a harmful impact on our lives.”

Advice from Buiten, “Talk to older neighbors – learn about what they lived through.”

Make an appointment today for immunizations:
https://packardhealth.org/contact/

Learn about the steps taken to develop a vaccine:

Schedules & Resources:
Birth – 6 Year ScheduleEspañol
7 – 18 Year ScheduleEspañol
Vaccines for Children Program (no cost vaccinations) – Español
Vaccination Guidance During a Pandemic


Cervical Cancer Screening

Like immunizations, cervical cancer screening is all about prevention.

Having access to a simple screening tool can be the difference between discovering the onset of cancer or an advanced diagnosis.

The American Cancer Society estimates that about 4,290 women will die from cervical cancer in the United State this year. Cervical cancer is most commonly diagnosed between the ages of 35 and 44 and was once one of the most common causes of cancer death for American women.

The cervical cancer death rate dropped significantly with the increased use of the Pap test, which detects both changes in the cervix before cancer develops and early, curable cancer.  In conjunction with the more recently developed HPV test, which detects infection by high-risk types of HPV that are more likely to cause pre-cancer and cancers of the cervix, prevention is even better versus a Pap test alone.

Risk factors that can be managed include: HPV vaccines, HPV treatments, sexual history, smoking, a weakened immune system, chlamydia infection, long-term use of oral contraceptives, multiple full-term pregnancies, young age at first full-term pregnancy, economic status, and a diet low in fruits and vegetables.

In the United States, Hispanic women, followed by Black/African-American women, have the highest risk of developing cervical cancer.  Fifty two point nine percent of Packard Health patients are women and approximately 80% of those women are in the age range for regular cervical cancer screenings. Of the almost 65% of female patients that disclosed their race, about 33% are Black/African American. Approximately 43% of women disclosed their ethnicity, just fewer than 14% of them identified as Hispanic.

Many in our Packard Health community are at a higher risk of being impacted. Let us help to prevent and detect.

Source: American Cancer Society

Make an appointment today for a cervical cancer screening:
https://packardhealth.org/contact/