January is Cervical Health Awareness Month.
Following the recommended guidelines for Pap smears is a good way to find and treat cervical cancer early, when it’s basically curable.
A Pap smear is one of the few screening tests for which there is good evidence that it’s effective, plus it’s relatively cheap and painless.
The American Cancer Society, The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists all recommend the following:
- No screening before age 21.
- Screening every 3 years between ages 21-29 with Pap smear only, no HPV testing. (The rate of
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In the dreary days of winter many people choose to travel overseas, especially to sunnier and warmer locations, such as Southeast Asia, Central and South America, and the Caribbean.
If you’re planning such a trip, take a moment to learn more about what health risks you might face in a particular country and if any vaccinations are recommended before you go. Some vaccines take several weeks to be most effective, so plan ahead.
Related story from Live Science: Many Americans don’t get recommended vaccines before travel
The most useful vaccine for everyone, I think, for is the Hepatitis A vaccine. … Continue reading
It was a nice surprise to see a celebrity use the power of social media to speak in favor of getting children vaccinated.
Well, not so much speak as show. And as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.
Mark Zuckerberg, of Facebook fame, recently posted this cute photo of himself and his baby daughter at the pediatrician’s office. He simply wrote “time for vaccines”, but surely he realized that he was encouraging his millions of “friends” with kids to vaccinate, as well.
As you can imagine, he received both likes and dislikes for his post.
The Washington … Continue reading
Every fall I post my recommendation that everyone get a flu shot.
In support of this week being National Influenza Vaccination Week (what, you haven’t heard?), here is a pretty cool animated video from NPR: Flu Attack! How A Virus Invades Your Body
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which sponsors Vaccination Week, offers these key points on their seasonal flu webpage:
- CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older as the first and most important step in protecting against influenza disease.
- CDC and its partners want
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Last week PBS aired a NOVA special on vaccinations: Vaccines—Calling the Shots
Diseases that were largely eradicated in the United States a generation ago—including whooping cough, measles, mumps—are returning, in part because nervous parents are skipping their children’s shots. Vaccines – Calling the Shots, a new NOVA special, takes viewers around the world to track epidemics, explore the science behind vaccinations, and shed light on the risks of opting out.
Like most NOVA specials, it focuses on the science behind vaccinations: How were they developed? How effective are they? How safe are they? And—perhaps … Continue reading
It’s October and time for my annual reminder for everyone age 6 months and older to get a flu shot!
Flu season typically runs from November to March, but no one can predict with accuracy exactly when the first cases will start showing up or when the season will end—sometimes as early as October to as late as May. It’s unpredictable as well how severe the upcoming flu season will be, so just assume it will be a bad and early flu season and prepare accordingly.
In other words, get your flu shot now. And remember to always wash your … Continue reading
A painful but common condition in older adults is shingles or herpes zoster. I’ve known several elderly people afflicted with this, and I will absolutely get the vaccine as soon as I turn 60!
The vaccine, Zostavax, is FDA-approved for ages 50 and up, but the Cleveland Clinic recently advised that it’s not cost effective for anyone under 60 to get immunized.
Why? Because Zostavax is too expensive. On average, it costs about $200, and that doesn’t include the cost for the office visit or vaccine administration that some clinics charge.
The vaccine is effective for 10-12 years, so … Continue reading
Because of the recent outbreaks of preventable diseases such as measles, California passed a law this summer that will severely limit a parent’s ability to opt out of vaccinating their school-aged kids.
But I understand why some parents, especially those with infants and young children, might be fearful when they hear so many (untrue) horror stories about the safety of vaccinations.
One family practice doctor wrote an open letter to parents about vaccinations—why they are necessary and why it’s safer to vaccinate than not—and published it on the health blog KevinMD.
I thought it was very … Continue reading
The measles has gotten a lot of media attention lately. And that’s a good thing—I hope it’s increased awareness of the importance of the measles vaccine.
Related post: Measles—A Disneyland souvenir
But I just read about another serious disease outbreak that can also be prevented by vaccine—bacterial meningitis: 6th student in Oregon infected with meningitis bacteria
Last year, there was a significant meningitis outbreak at Princeton University, and one student died.
Meningitis is the inflammation of the meninges, a membrane around the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms can be mild and flu-like, or more severe with a high fever, headache, … Continue reading
I loved this clip from Jimmy Kimmel Live. He says:
I feel like we’re headed in the wrong direction…Here in LA there are schools in which 20% of the students aren’t vaccinated because parents here are more scared of gluten than they are of smallpox…
Related post: Penn and Teller give a shout out to vaccinations
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