Linh Nguyen England
This is a weekly dose of wellness brought to you by MemorialCare health system. Here's Melanie Cole.Melanie Cole
August is National Immunization Awareness Month. My guest today is Dr. Linh Nguyen England when she's a pediatrician at MemorialCare Medical Group's primary care office on Bellflower Boulevard in Long Beach, California. Welcome to the show, doctor. When we're talking about National Immunization Awareness Month and people have a lot of questions about vaccines so that to start before the school year begins. Tell us about the safety and efficacy of vaccines.Linh Nguyen England, M.D.
Good morning, thank you for having me on your show today. Yes, this is by far the hottest topic in pediatrics these days, and the most important question that parents have, like you said, is the safety. And the truth is, vaccines are safe. They're usually years, decades of extensive research and testing that goes into ensuring the safety and effectiveness before they can be approved and licensed. And also, they are continually monitored for any potential safety issues and adverse effects.Melanie Cole
How important is it that parents stick to the vaccination schedule set out by the American Academy of Pediatrics?Linh Nguyen England, M.D.
By far, vaccinating our children is the most important thing we can do to protect their health, and the schedule is set up so that we can protect our children as soon as possible before they can enter school or interact with society in a way that is safe for them.Melanie Cole
Dr. Nguyen, when people hear about vaccinations, it's been such a hot topic, as you say lately, when parents ask you as a pediatrician, what are the benefits versus the risks of vaccinations? Will it cause autism? Are there all these problems? What do you tell parents? You're most important information?Linh Nguyen England, M.D.
Yes, that is definitely the typical questions that they always ask me because parents care about their children, and especially when we're putting something new to the children's bodies, they have many questions. But benefits that we get from vaccines by far outweigh the risks and the nature of potential side effects that we get from vaccines. And what I tell parents is these days we are so fortunate as a society in the US that we do not see the devastating effect of diseases that we have prevented with the vaccine. And the symptoms can vary from severe sickness to paralysis, heart, liver issues and death. And because we do not see those effects as commonly these days, the fear kind of went away and we focus on confusing messages in the media. And if we stop vaccinating our children, those symptoms, diseases will come back and more children will get severely sick and die. So it's very, very dangerous thing to consider not vaccinating the children.Melanie Cole
Tell us about the schedule a little bit, Dr. Nuguyen and why are some vaccines combined with others, such as DTaP and MMR? Does that increase any risk? So speak about some of the diseases that we covered today and why some of those vaccines are combined.Linh Nguyen England, M.D.
Right. So. Because if we don't combine some of the vaccines, one, our children will get a lot of pokes at once, and that's not that pleasant for them. And too many of them are combined for scientific reason because together they can be in molecularly one vial that does not interfere with each other. And we can actually give them much less of the additives in the vaccine. And another reason, too, is because some of the vaccines need a longer period for our body to produce antibodies in order for it to work. That's why if we spread out the vaccines. It will take a very, very long and we'll take our bodies through a longer period to get that immunity and also to make sure that we recover from any side effects of the vaccine. So that's why some of them are given together so that the body goes through the potential side effects in a shorter period of time.Melanie Cole
And are there certain vaccines that you would like to just point out and make sure to let parents know that there was a recent outbreak of measles? That's a nasty disease, Dr. Nguyen, so speak about some of these vaccines that we've heard about in the media lately and the importance of getting those. When do we get those in the importance of getting them on time?Linh Nguyen England, M.D.
Yes. So measles is definitely very high up there as far as controversy in the media and the start of the controversy, the media was about potential risk causing autism, which has been disproven many, many, many times by scientific research and has not been any kind really proven link between it. So the studies have been disproven, however, that fear of measles is still out there because measles is given at right around the same time that autism could present itself. So the vaccine has been unfortunately falsely accused of causing it, but that has been disproven. And measles is given first and usually after the first birthday and then another booster before going to kindergarten. So I've had many parents will come with newborn babies who are afraid of the vaccine, and I do tell them that a vaccine is not given until one year old. However, that means that your newborn baby is potentially at risk of getting measles if our society continues not to protect themselves against the illness. And yes, it's devastating. It can get them very, very sick. They end up in a hospital with severe severe illness, needing fluids, needing medication, and we actually don't really have a cure for it. We kind of just help and support their body while they go through it.Melanie Cole
So recently, with all of this media attention, some parents, anti-vaxxers, they're called as you as a pediatrician. What do you say to a parent that says to you, I am hesitant to give my child any of these vaccines? And even with all of the important information that I hear, what do you tell them about when they question you and they say, I don't want to do this? What do you say?Linh Nguyen England, M.D.
So I always have very open communication with the parents, and I want to make sure that decision that they're making is an informed decision because it is their child and they're just concerned about their child's health and safety, which is absolutely understandable. And I see most of the time when we have open communication and I answer the question and eliminate any misinformation. I actually am able to convince many of the parents to vaccinate their children with the outbreak recently of measles. Many of the parents who have been vaccinated, their children at all have come back to me in order to vaccinate their children. So the most important thing is that open communication and the trust between the clinician and the parents. And I do tell them about the potential side effects because like any medications, vaccinations do have side effects. And after knowing how mild it usually is, many parents will decide to get the vaccine.Melanie Cole
So many vaccines are given at the very beginning of life, hepatitis and rotavirus and the tap vaccine. So many of these are given in the first few months. And is it safe for the babies, the little babies to get these vaccines right away? Hepatitis in such?Linh Nguyen England, M.D.
Oh, absolutely. And it's actually the little one that we want to protect as soon as possible because they're most at risk to be severely ill if they don't get these vaccinations. We do give the first big set of vaccinations at two months and we protect them against illnesses like whooping cough, which in adults it could be just like a cold kind of cough. But in a newborn baby, they end up stopping their breathing. They end up being on ventilators, end up being in the hospital for weeks, and they can potentially die. So with those children, particularly, we want to protect them as soon as possible. And there's always this fear that we're exposing the little children to too many vaccines at once. But the reality is children are exposed to many, many other viruses all the time. You know, if you forget to or they put dirty hands into their mouth, that is millions and millions of different viruses and potentially bacteria that put in their mouth and their right. So we absolutely don't have a fear of putting too many at once.Melanie Cole
In just the last few minutes, Dr. Nguyen and it's such important information. I am very passionate about the vaccine situation and with the American Academy of Pediatrics, tell us where people can find more information about vaccine and immunization and why it's so important that they vaccinate their children.Linh Nguyen England, M.D.
The most reliable source about the current state of diseases and vaccinations and side effects is the CDC.gov website. It also has a parent-friendly version of information about illnesses and vaccinations, and my other favorite one is healthychildren.org by AAP, which is also very, very friendly, but with the most reliable information.Melanie Cole
Thank you so much for such great information. You're listening to weekly dose of wellness. For more information, you can go to MemorialCare.org. That's MemorialCare.org. This is Melanie Cole sitting in for Deborah Howell. Thanks so much for listening.
Dr. Linh England speaks about the importance and benefits of vaccinations for children.
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