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March of Dimes celebrates anniversary
Word of Mom campaign touts vaccinations
Published Wednesday, September 11, 2013
by Michaela L. Duckett

Now that a new school year is underway, March of Dimes and Sanofi Pasteur have launched “Word of Mom: Celebrating 75 Year of Healthy Advice,” a new campaign and national survey emphasizing the important role vaccines play in preventing the spread of infectious diseases.

Earlier this year, North Carolina reported 23 confirmed cases of measles, the first reported outbreak in 20 years.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that there have been more than 100 reported cases of measles in the United States so far this year. Most occurred in people who were not vaccinated or did not know their vaccination status.

“As a mom, one of the most important things is making sure that my children are vaccinated,” said Charlotte Word of Mom ambassador Nikki Fleming, who is also a March of Dimes mom.

Fleming recalled hearing stories from her father about her aunt falling ill with Polio when they were children.

“My father talking about what he went through with his sister, and my mother always making sure my brother and I were vaccinated is something that made me really want to be involved in this push to make the public aware about the importance of vaccinations and how they can help reduce illness in our community and keep our community healthy,” she said.

Some experts believe that anti-vaccination movements, which have resulted from fears that the shots can lead to autism and other complications in children, have contributed to the decision of some parents not to vaccinate.

However, Siobhan M. Dolan, M.D., medical advisor to March of Dimes, said evidence proves that the benefits outweigh the risks.

“Vaccinations are really a safe and effective way to protect your family,” she said. “The bottom line is that the data [linking vaccines to autism] really isn’t substantiated. When we look at effectiveness of vaccines and look at the number of children who are saved from infection that lead to serious illness and, sadly, even death in some cases, we see that the benefits of vaccines far outweigh the risks.”

She encourages parents to address their questions and concerns with a family physician or other professional medical care provider.

Dolan said the goal of Word of Mom is to empower moms to make the best health decisions for their families. March of Dimes has set up a website, www.vaccines.com/wordofmom to provide parents with the resources they need to make those decisions.

As part of the campaign, a national survey of 500 moms across multiple generations was also conducted. The survey found that nearly 85 percent of moms and other female relatives sometimes, usually or always relied on advice from female relatives in their family when it came to the health of their children.

In addition, nearly 80 percent of moms agreed the immunization is one of the best ways to help keep their children healthy and help protect them from vaccine-preventable diseases. However, many of these moms were unaware that some of the diseases they associated with past generations still occur today.

In addition to recent outbreaks of measles, North Carolina has also seen resurgence in pertussis, commonly referred to as whooping cough. According to CDC, the state reported 21 confirmed cases the first week of September. This was the third largest number of reported cases in the country, behind Ohio (30) and Washington (24).

Dolan also emphasized that vaccinations are not just for children.

“They are for adults as well,” she said. Dolan said parents should consider receiving booster shots for pertussis in addition to the flu shot. From Oct. 1, 2012 to May 23, 2013 there were 59 confirmed influenza-related deaths in North Carolina.

In addition to providing vaccinations, parents are also encouraged to ensure their children receive regular check-ups, such as dental and eye exams.

Dolan said another powerful, yet simple way of reducing and preventing the spread of infection and illness, is proper hand washing – washing your hands for at least 20 seconds (the time it takes to sing the Happy Birthday song) in warm, clean, soapy water.

Is your child up to date on immunizations? If not, see the list below for dates, times and locations for free healthcare options during Big Shot Saturdays or Family Health Link:

- Sept. 14, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Mecklenburg County Health Department (249 Billingsley Road)

- Sept. 28, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Mecklenburg County Health Department (2845 Beatties Ford Road)

- Family Health Link provides immunizations, health assessments, physical exam, vision and health screenings, dental checks and activities for children. The event is available to the first 100 children Sept. 21, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology (1430 Alleghany Street)





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