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Vaccinations Count!

by Dr. Kent Kleppinger

photo © www.istockphoto.com/ilona75

Immunizations, baby shots, vaccinations—whatever name you call them are actually special in the state of Wyoming. We are one of the only states in the nation that fully fund the vaccinations for our children. It’s a huge step Wyoming takes to invest in our children’s future.

out of our continent and keeps it from spreading when it comes into the country from developing nations.

Our children receive nearly two dozen immunizations during childhood; most of them during the first year. The positive reasons for vaccines are to help prevent, even stop the spread of lethal illnesses like polio, pertussis (“whooping cough”) measles and rubella. While these illnesses can hospitalize and even cause death in younger children, some parents are nervous and even afraid of giving their kids vaccinations.

The vaccinations we give in our offices today are roughly 100 times “cleaner” than a generation ago, due to ongoing research and surveillance of the illnesses and changes needed to keep up with changing microbes. They are more effective and safer than they were for the parents of our children today. The “Old” vaccines are now no older than about the last 5 years since their most recent adjustment. And the “new” vaccines (for cervical cancer and a form of severe bacterial meningitis) are saving millions of dollars in family hospital bills and preventing major illness in children. One vaccine, the HIB Vaccine, outpaced its expectations.

One movement, founded by a Dr. Spears, recommends waiting to give shots until later when “the immune system is more mature” and even avoiding shots due to the cause of autism. Another group simply feels too many shots are given and “we did just fine with these illnesses”. Still another group rides on the urban legend that autism is caused by vaccinations.

The HIB Vaccine was advanced as possibly helping the number of ear infections in children and possibly pneumonia as well. Turns out it has erased one of the major meningitis causing illnesses in children. I used to do 2-3 spinal taps a month for meningitis due to this illness. Now, there are fewer than 2-3 spinal taps a year done in our community, thanks to a vaccine.

The truth is as simple as the internet. Word spreads on the net that is totally false and takes on a life of its own. Case in point is the argument that measles cause autism. That came from a fabricated medical report in England, totally made up by the physician author. Since then the article has been retracted, the author banned from medicine and his book profits court ordered to be given to London Children’s Hospital. Autism, it turns out, is a genetic disease totally unrelated to vaccinations. The internet still spreads that measles cause autism.

Wyoming has had the wisdom to see value in vaccinating our children and to pay for them. Families in some states may pay as much as $500 for a set of 6 month shots for their child. Here, the only charge is the nurse time it takes to administer them (around $30). Our state’s immunization levels are improving steadily since the state picked up the cost, and think of the millions of dollars Wyoming actually saves in paying for the illnesses it prevents with vaccinations. Overall, this is money very well spent. And that belittles the real reason for the vaccination program in Wyoming. After all, it’s hard to put a price on our children’s health and future.

Take polio for example. In the 18th century it spread to young infants as a relatively benign stomach illness. Water hygiene improvements moved the disease from infants to older children and adults and from 1900 on became the most crippling illness ever seen. President Franklin D. Roosevelt nearly died from polio. Vaccinations have nearly (but not completely) wiped it Dr. Kent Kleppinger, “Klep” to his patients, grew up in Casper, Wyoming and graduated with honors from the University of Wyoming. He received his medical degree from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, and completed his Pediatrics Internship and Residency at Oklahoma Children’s Memorial Hospital in Oklahoma City. Following Residency, he did an additional year of Fellowship training in Ambulatory Pediatrics, where he had extra training in the fields of Pediatric Development, Adolescent Medicine and Pulmonary Pediatrics. Dr. Kleppinger has practiced Pediatrics in Laramie since 1985. In January 1999 he opened his current office, Laramie Pediatrics, PC. Dr. Kleppinger is Board Certified in Pediatrics and is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), American Thoracic Society, AAP Section on Child Development and Section on Adolescent Medicine. He is currently the UW Athletics Team Physician, Medical Director to Cathedral Home for Children in Laramie and the Medical Director for WyoTech Student Health.

28 Wyoming Lifestyle Magazine | August 2010

Wyoming Lifestyle Magazine Fall 2010  
Wyoming Lifestyle Magazine Fall 2010  

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