39 Years Unmasking a Monster


In the deep, dark, quietest hour of Palm Sunday in 1973, a sweet, beautiful, and innocent little girl took God’s hand and stepped bravely into heaven.

A year later, another little five year old fought and fought and was given a second chance.  During the year between the two cases, unknown numbers of children died of a mysterious illness.  Doctors were confounded.  Parents grieved, and found no answers.  And children died… and died.

The National Reye’s Syndrome Foundation was founded in 1974 by those two sets of parents whose five year old children were victimized by Reye’s Syndrome with the bold intent of unmasking this horrible monster that terrorized helpless children.  They were committed to finding answers…  A reason.  A reckoning….

Parents who had lost children to Reye’s, and parents whose children miraculously survived Reye’s, began to find one another and the Foundation.  A grass-roots hands-across-the-country movement began to fight back and unravel this mystery and to warn other parents of the beast that stalked their children.

And finally, some few years later after much study and funding of research, epidemiology research connected aspirin (salicylate), combined with a viral infection like flu or chicken pox, with triggering Reye’s Syndrome.

We finally knew what to warn parents not to do; Never give a child under the age of 19 aspirin or aspirin products!

Unfortunately, there is still no cure for Reye’s Syndrome.  There are no tests one can do to pre-determine susceptibility for the disease.

Unfortunately, we still see many parents who do not know about Reye’s Syndrome; they do not know what Reye’s really is or what the symptoms are – they were just told by their doctors not to give children aspirin.  And they are not told that products like Pepto-Bismol, and Alka-Seltzer, and Pamprin and many many other prescription drugs and over the counter medicines contain aspirin (salicylates).

Unfortunately, many breastfeeding moms do not know that aspirin (salicylate) is transferable in breast milk!  Horror!

Unfortunately, many of our tweens and teens self-medicate.  We get those panicked phone calls every day at the Foundation;  “My son just took aspirin for a headache!  Help me – is he going to die?”   Teens share their medications with their friends, unaware that it could kill their friend.

For 39 years we have guarded the lives of children; through research and awareness.  Until we can resolve all of those “unfortunates” listed above, we -have- to remain on mission.  We -have- to continue educating.  We -have- to continue our Awareness Programs.  We -have- to continue to share what we know.

We invite you to participate; to become a guardian angel for children – to spread education and awareness about the dangers and risk of aspirin products to our teens, tweens, new parents, and nursing mothers; in schools, in daycare centers, in church, and at work.

Believe it:  One word of warning does save a child’s life….

Join Us in advocating for healthy children!


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Neem & Margosa Oil

Margosa or Neem Oil

Margosa or Neem oil is a yellow oil with a disagreeable smell and bitter taste that has been used as a medical remedy in India and Southeast Asia for several centuries.  In recent years, there have been rare reports of acute onset of severe metabolic acidosis, hepatic and multiorgan failure and death following ingestion of margosa oil.


Margosa oil is an extract of the seeds of Azadirachta indica, commonly known as the Neem tree native to India and



Sri Lanka.  In low doses, margosa oil has been a traditional remedy for centuries in India and Southeast Asia used in treating asthma, intestinal parasites, arthritis and leprosy.  It is also an insecticide.  The oil has a disagreeable smell and bitter taste attributable to volatile sulphur compounds and fatty acids.   The bitters are secondary products formed during storage of the oil or the seeds and concentrations can vary in different commercial samples.


Margosa oil can cause severe metabolic acidosis and death, particularly in young children.  Symptoms of nausea, vomiting and progressive stupor develop within hours of consumption, followed by severe metabolic acidosis, coma, and progressive hepatic dysfunction, similar to Reye Syndrome.  Serum aminotransferase levels are generally normal or minimally elevated initially, but then rise to high levels accompanied by increases in LDH and CPK levels.  Progressive hepatic encephalopathy and cerebral edema develop within days.   This product contains high levels of salicylates – the same as aspirin.  Therefore, this product could trigger Reye’s Syndrome and should not be given or used by children under the age of 19.

Again, we urge extreme caution in using herbal remedies, and always check for salicylates in any product given to children under the age of 19.











Mechanism of Injury

The mechanism of hepatotoxicity of margosa oil appears to be related to mitochondrial dysfunction and poisoning of the electron transport pathway by a component of margosa oil or a contaminant.  A similar syndrome has been induced in laboratory animals with samples of the implicated oil.

 Other Names:  Neem oil

Other links:

What is Reye’s Syndrome

Aspirin Containing Products

Other Names for Aspirin

Pepto-Bismol and Children

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RS Awareness CARE Packages Are Here!

NEW!!  Share Because You Care… 

They are here!  They are Fabulous!  They are Perfect!

Care Packages that double as educational and awareness Gifts!

Donate $20.00 and Get 10 Care Packages to Give Away!

Set of 10 Care Packages

Set of 10 Care Packages

Each Box Set Includes:

  • 10 Beautiful All-Occasion Cards
  • 10 White Envelopes
  • 10 Reye’s Syndrome Symptom Bookmarks
  • 10 Beautiful Inspiration Bookmarks
  • 10 Ingredients to Avoid Wallet Cards
  • 10 Reye’s Syndrome Brochures

What a sweet and thoughtful way to educate everyone and anyone about Reye’s Syndrome!

Use them as:

  • Holiday Cards and Stocking-Stuffer Gifts / Secret Pal Gifts /  Small Gifts to just say Thanks! during the Holidays
  • Birthday Cards
  • Baby Shower Cards
  • Wedding Shower Cards
  • Wedding Gift Cards
  • Thank You Cards
  • Anniversary Cards
  • Just Thinking About You Cards
  • Facebook Friends and any Social Media / Networking Cards and Gifts
  • For Any and All Occasions!

The All-Occasion Cards come 8.5″ x 11″, which when folded gives you a card size of 5.5″ x 8.5″.

The inside of the cards are blank, and the cards come flat so you can even run them through your printer!

Card Before Folded

Card Before Folded

Print Ideas for the inside of the Cards:

  • Print Pictures
  • Print Your Annual Family Newsletter
  • Add a Recipe for Homemade Anything
  • Add a list of Helpful Website Addresses
  • Anything to fit the Occasion

You can even purchase Boxed Sets of 10 Care Packages as Gifts for others to give as Gifts!

Your $20.00 Donation, plus shipping ($5.00) is tax deductible and we will send you a receipt.

Share Reye’s Syndrome Awareness Because You Care.

What You Get

What You Get

Share Because You Care – Get Yours While Supplies Last – Click Here To Order Today!

To purchase by check, through the mail, download the order form by clicking here.

Want to help the NRSF by selling Care Packages for us?

Download the order form, have checks made out to NRSF, or National Reye’s Syndrome Foundation, and mail the order forms and checks to: NRSF – 426 N. Lewis St – PO Box 829 – Bryan, OH 43506

Need Help Ordering, or Have Questions?
Call 800.233.7393 for assistance.

Thank You!

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Reye’s Syndrome Information; Caregiver Handout

Reye’s Syndrome doesn’t make news headlines anymore like it use to in the 1970’s and 1980’s.  That doesn’t mean it has gone away, though.  Thousands of children’s lives are spared from Reye’s today due to constant efforts to educate parents and caregivers about the dangers of aspirin-containing products and children.

However, here at the Foundation, the phones still ring, and email comes in, from frantic parents who discover that a grandparent, a babysitter, or other caregiver has given their child aspirin.  Some times, the calls are from young parents who gave their child an aspirin product and then read the label warning them not to.

It’s just a normal progression in life; people forget.  Especially the older we get.  The Reye’s epidemic of the 70’s and 80’s were 30 to 40 years ago.  It’s easy for grandparents to forget those terrifying times.  And, today, with the lowered incidence of Reye’s Syndrome, doctors don’t see cases, and Reye’s has quietly slipped out of mind.  Doctors tell parents some_drugs_are_not_for_childrennot to give a child aspirin, but does not warn about other aspirin-containing medications like Pepto-Bismol, a product containing bismuth-subsalicylate, also known to trigger Reye’s Syndrome in children.

To make it easier on parents, we have created a Reye’s Syndrome caregiver / babysitter handout you can download and give to anyone who is going to be with your child while you are away.

Tuck several copies into your diaper bag, or purse, keep copies in your car, download it to your phone, store it in your email, or in your Cloud Box, anywhere you can access it, print it, or email it to someone who will be providing care for your child.

Tack it to your refrigerator,  on the bathroom mirror, at your baby’s changing station, on the door to your medicine cabinet, next to your emergency numbers, anywhere your caregiver will notice it, and read it.  Before you leave, point it out, and have them read it over so they understand the seriousness of the issue.

Free Handout!

Free Handout!

Not only will you be protecting your own child in doing this, you will educate any child under the age of 19 who may be babysitting for you, that they too, are susceptible to Reye’s and should not be taking these products.

Another by-product of using this for any caregiver, is you alleviate any guilt or hard feelings with family and relatives who may have forgotten about Reye’s and who innocently thought they were doing the child some good by giving him an aspirin.

Guilt is a very difficult, and a huge issue for grandparents to live with – don’t put them through it – just give them a copy of this handout.

Download your copy, and send copies to other parents, or let them know where to get a copy.



Related Information:

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September is Reye’s Syndrome Awareness Month!

Just in time for school, September of each year is designated as Reye’s Syndrome Awareness Month!

Just in time for Reye’s Syndrome Awareness Month, the National Reye’s Syndrome Foundation is offering some great tee’s in 3 fabulous colors to help spread the word that Kids and Aspirin Products Don’t Mix!

We hope you care enough about eradicating this child-killing disease to support our programs and help us get the word out by purchasing and wearing a “Be Wise About Reye’s” tee-shirt.  RS Awareness Month Tees

Tee’s on sale for $15.00 now include:

Ash  — Light Blue  — Bright Green

Tees can be ordered until August 20, 2013 so they can be shipped to you before September.

This is a crowd sourced awareness campaign and we have to sell at least a total of 10 tees in the color you choose in order to have them printed.  If you order a tee, and we don’t meet the goal of selling 10 tees in that color, you will not be charged and your tee will not be printed.  If you need more information about how this works, email the foundation at: nrsf(at)reyessyndrome(dot)org

We will take credit card orders over the phone also at: 800.233.7393

Join us in eliminating the incidence of this child-killing disease! Order Your Tee Today!!  It’s tax-deductible, too!

Thank You!

National Reye’s Syndrome Foundation
501(c)3 Charity – est. 1974

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Immunizations Recommended for Children and Adolescents

What immunizations are recommended for children and adolescents?

Ask your doctor what shots your child should get. The immunization schedule includes vaccines for:

Pertussis (Whooping Cough)

Chickenpox, also known as varicella, is a highly contagious and self-limited infection that most commonly affects children between 5-10 years of age. The disease has a worldwide distribution and is reported throughout the year in regions of temperate climate. The peak incidence is generally during the months of March through May. Lifelong immunity for chickenpox generally follows the disease. If the patient’s immune system does not totally clear the body of the virus, it may retreat to skin sensory nerve cell bodies where it is protected from the patient’s immune system. The disease shingles (also known as “zoster”) represents release of these viruses down the length of the skin nerve fiber and produces a characteristic painful rash. Shingles is most commonly a disease of adults.

NOTE! Reye’s Syndrome, a deadly disease has been heavily linked with this virus. Learn More.

Learn More about Managing Chickenpox in Children
Learn More

Diphtheria is a contagious infectious disease that primarily affects the upper respiratory tract (respiratory diphtheria), and it is characterized by sore throat, fever, and an adherent membrane (pseudomembrane) on the tonsils and nasopharynx. Diphtheria can also affect the skin and cause localized skin infections (cutaneous diphtheria). Severe infection with diphtheria can lead to systemic involvement and can affect other organ systems as well, such as the heart and nervous system, sometimes leading to death. Diphtheria is caused by the bacterium Corynebacterium diphtheriae.

Transmission occurs via inhalation of airborne respiratory secretions or by direct contact with infected nasopharyngeal secretions or skin wounds. Rarely, infection can be spread by contact with objects contaminated by an infected person.

Risk factors for the development of diphtheria include absent or incomplete immunization against diphtheria, overcrowded and/or unsanitary living conditions, a compromised immune system, and travel to areas where the disease is endemic, especially in individuals who have not obtained booster shots (vaccine).

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Tetanus is a disease caused by a bacterial infection. The bacteria make a toxin, or poison, that causes severe muscle spasms. Tetanus can be very dangerous, but you can get a shot to prevent it. Tetanus is also called “lockjaw” because muscle spasms in your jaw make it hard to open your mouth. Tetanus also causes seizures and makes it hard for you to swallow or breathe.

In the United States, most people have had shots to prevent tetanus, so the disease is relatively rare. People who have never been immunized or haven’t had a booster in the last 10 years are more likely to get tetanus. This includes people who recently moved to the U.S. from countries where tetanus shots are rare.

If you never had tetanus shots as a child, or if you’re not sure if you had them, you’ll need to get 3 tetanus shots in about a 1-year time span. After that, 1 booster shot every 10 years will work for you.

Get a tetanus shot as soon as possible if you have a dirty cut or wound and 5 or more years have passed since your last tetanus shot.

Learn More

Whooping Cough
Whooping cough (pertussis) is a disease that causes very severe coughing that may last for months. During bursts of violent coughing, you may make a noise that sounds like a “whoop” when you try to take a breath. You can cough so hard that you hurt a rib.

Whooping cough spreads easily from one person to another. Getting the pertussis vaccine can help you avoid the disease, make it less severe, and prevent you from spreading it to those who are at risk for more serious problems.

With good care, most people recover from whooping cough with no problems. But severe coughing spells can decrease the blood’s oxygen supply and lead to other problems, such as pneumonia. The illness can be dangerous in older adults and young children, especially babies who aren’t old enough to have had the pertussis vaccine.

July 19, 2012 — Whooping cough cases could be headed toward a 50-year high in the United States, and the CDC says the nation is on track for record rates of the disease.

Twice as many cases have been reported so far this year as at the same point last year, a CDC official said today.

Nationwide, nearly 18,000 cases of whooping cough, or pertussis, and nine deaths have been reported in 2012, Anne Schuchat, MD, director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told reporters.

More than 3,000 cases have been reported in Washington State alone, where health officials have declared a whooping cough epidemic.

Pregnant women and anyone else likely to come into contact with young babies are being urged to get booster shots to prevent whooping cough, even if they have been vaccinated in the past.

That’s because babies are most likely to die or be hospitalized when they get the highly contagious bacterial disease, which is named for the characteristic cough that accompanies it.

“All of the whooping cough fatalities that have occurred this year have been among babies who were too young to be fully vaccinated”, Schuchat said. “We would need to go back to 1959 to find as many cases reported by this time in the year.”

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Measles, also known as rubeola, is one of the most contagious infectious diseases, with at least a 90% secondary infection rate in susceptible domestic contacts. It can affect people of all ages, despite being considered primarily a childhood illness. Measles is marked by prodromal fever, cough, coryza, conjunctivitis, and pathognomonic enanthem (ie, Koplik spots), followed by an erythematous maculopapular rash on the third to seventh day. Infection confers life-long immunity. Subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE) is a rare chronic degenerative disease that occurs several years after measles infection.

Globally, measles remains one of the leading causes of death in young children. According to the CDC, measles caused an estimated 197,000 deaths worldwide in 2007.

Case-fatality rates are higher among children younger than 5 years. The highest fatality rates are among infants aged 4-12 months and in children who are immunocompromised because of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection or other causes.

Complications of measles are more likely to occur in persons younger than 5 years or older than 20 years, and morbidity and mortality are increased in persons with immune deficiency disorders, malnutrition, vitamin A deficiency, and inadequate vaccination.

Croup, encephalitis, and pneumonia are the most common causes of death associated with measles. Measles encephalitis, a rare but serious complication, has a 10% mortality.

Unvaccinated males and females are equally susceptible to infection by the measles virus. Excess mortality following acute measles has been observed among females at all ages, but it is most marked in adolescents and young adults.

Despite the highest recorded immunization rates in history, young children who are not appropriately vaccinated may experience more than a 60-fold increase in risk of disease due to exposure to imported measles cases from countries that have not yet eliminated the disease.

The peak incidence of infection occurs during late winter and spring. Infection is transmitted via respiratory droplets, which can remain active and contagious, either airborne or on surfaces, for up to 2 hours. Initial infection and viral replication occur locally in tracheal and bronchial epithelial cells.

After 2-4 days, measles virus infects local lymphatic tissues, perhaps carried by pulmonary macrophages. Following the amplification of measles virus in regional lymph nodes, a predominantly cell-associated viremia disseminates the virus to various organs prior to the appearance of rash.

Supportive care is normally all that is required for patients with measles. Vitamin A supplementation during acute measles significantly reduces risks of morbidity and mortality.

Learn More About Measles and Your Child

Mumps is a disease, usually of children, caused by a virus. With mumps, your salivary glands swell. Specifically, these are the parotid glands, and they are located below and in front of each ear.

The virus is spread by direct contact with an infected person’s sneeze or cough. Humans are the only known natural hosts. The disease is more severe if you get it as an adult.

With nearly universal immunization in childhood, there are fewer than 1,000 cases of mumps per year. Most of the reported cases are in children 5-14 years of age. The infection is more common during late winter and spring.

Learn More

Rubella (German Measles)
Rubella is a very contagious, easily spread illness caused by the rubella virus. It is usually a mild illness. But in rare cases, it may cause more serious problems.

If you are pregnant and get infected with the rubella virus, your baby (fetus) could become infected too. This can cause birth defects, including serious defects known as congenital rubella syndrome (CRS). CRS can cause hearing loss, eye problems, heart problems, and other complications.

Rubella also is called German measles or 3-day measles.

The rubella virus most often is spread through droplets of fluid from the mouth, nose, or eyes of someone who has the infection. A person who has the infection can spread these droplets by coughing, sneezing, talking, or sharing food or drinks. You can get infected by touching something that has the droplets on it and then touching your eyes, nose, or mouth before washing your hands.

If you have rubella, you are most likely to spread it a few days before the rash starts until 5 to 7 days after the rash first appears. But you can spread the virus even if you don’t have any symptoms.

If you’ve had rubella, it is very unlikely that you will get it again.

Learn More

Polio is an infectious disease caused by polioviruses that can result in symptoms ranging from none to lifelong disability or death. Risk factors are highest for those people unvaccinated against polio, young children, immunosuppressed people, pregnant females, those people living or traveling in areas where polio is endemic, and polio patient caregivers.

Polio symptoms first begin like any other viral illness; progressive symptoms include muscle discomfort and muscle paralysis with late symptoms of muscle atrophy, weakness, extremity disfigurement, and breathing problems in some patients.

People who have risk factors or symptoms should seek medical care immediately.

Diagnosis of polio is made by clinical observation of symptoms and by tests that detect the polio viruses in samples taken from the patient.
There is no medical cure for polio; medical treatment is designed to reduce symptoms.

There are many surgical methods used to help relieve symptoms of polio (mainly bone, joint, and muscle modifications).

Prevention of polio is possible with appropriate vaccination treatments; avoiding contact with polio viruses by good hygiene and avoiding areas where polio is endemic also help prevent polio.

The prognosis for most people who are infected by the polio viruses is good, but those few patients who develop paralytic polio have a prognosis ranging from good to poor, depending on the severity of infection.

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Tuberculosis (TB)
All cases of TB are passed from person to person via droplets. When someone with TB infection coughs, sneezes, or talks, tiny droplets of saliva or mucus are expelled into the air, which can be inhaled by another person.

Once infectious particles reach the alveoli (small saclike structures in the air spaces in the lungs), another cell, called the macrophage, engulfs the TB bacteria.

Then the bacteria are transmitted to the lymphatic system and bloodstream and spread to other organs occurs. The bacteria further multiply in organs that have high oxygen pressures, such as the upper lobes of the lungs, the kidneys, bone marrow, and meninges — the membrane-like coverings of the brain and spinal cord.

Tuberculosis continues to be a major health problem worldwide. In 2008, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that one-third of the global population was infected with TB bacteria:
— 8.8 million new cases of TB developed.
— 1.6 million people died of this disease in 2005.
— Each person with untreated active TB will infect on average 10-15 people each year.
— A new infection occurs every second.

In 2009, the TB rate in the United States was 3.8 cases per 100,000 population, a slight decrease from the prior year. Four states (California, Florida, New York, and Texas) accounted for the majority of all new TB cases (50.3%).

With the spread of AIDS, tuberculosis continues to lay waste to large populations. The emergence of drug-resistant organisms threatens to make this disease once again incurable.

In 1993, the WHO declared tuberculosis a global emergency.

Learn More

NOTE: Never give a child under the age of 19 aspirin or aspirin products without first talking to your doctor because you could trigger a deadly disease known as Reye’s Syndrome.

More Information:

On WordPress:

PDF Downloads & Handouts:
Who Should NOT be Vaccinated: http://www.reyessyndrome.org/pdfs/Vaccines_ VPD-VAC_Who Should NOT Get Vaccinated_.pdf
Vaccination and Milestone Tracker: http://www.reyessyndrome.org/pdfs/CDC_milestones-tracker.pdf
Immunizations Record – 7 – 18 Years of Age: http://www.reyesyndrome.org/pdfs/CDC_parent-version-schedule-7-18yrs.pdf
Immunizations Record – 7 – 18 Years of Age – Spanish Version: http://www.reyessyndrome.org/pdfs/CDC_parent-version-schedule-7-18yrs-sp.pdf
Vaccine Information Statement: http://www.reyessyndrome.org/pdfs/CDC_Vaccination_Statement.pdf
You Can Prevent These 8 Diseases: http://www.reyessyndrome.org/pdfs/vaccines_can_prevent_8_diseases.pdf

Other Resources:
What is a Vaccine: http://www.niaid.nih.gov/topics/vaccines/understanding/Pages/whatVaccine.aspx
Vaccine Resources at CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/index.html
Reye’s Syndrome: http://www.reyessyndrome.org
CDC Vaccine Video, Get The Picture: http://www.cdc.gov/CDCTV/GetThePicture/index.html

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Childhood Vaccines Can Prevent These 8 Diseases

Childhood Vaccines Can Prevent These 8 Diseases

Signs and symptoms include a thick covering in the back of the throat that can make it hard to breathe.childhood_vaccines_can_prevent_these_8_diseases
Diphtheria can lead to breathing problems, and heart failure.

Tetanus (Lockjaw)
Signs and symptoms include painful tightening of the muscles, usually all over the body.
Tetanus can lead to stiffness of the jaw so victims can’t open their mouth or swallow.

Pertussis (Whooping Cough)
Signs and symptoms include violent coughing spells that can make it hard for a baby to eat, drink, or breathe. These spells can last for weeks.
Pertussis can lead to pneumonia, seizures, and brain damage.

Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b)
Signs and symptoms can include trouble breathing. There may not be any signs or symptoms in mild cases.
Hib can lead to (infection of the brain and spinal cord coverings); pneumonia; infections of the blood, joints, bones, and covering of the heart; brain damage; and deafness.

Hepatitis B
Signs and symptoms can include tiredness, diarrhea and vomiting, jaundice (yellow skin or eyes), and pain in muscles, joints and stomach. But usually there are no signs or symptoms at all.
Hepatitis B can lead to liver damage, and liver cancer.

Signs and symptoms can include flu-like illness, or there may be no signs or symptoms at all.
Polio can lead to paralysis (can’t move an arm or leg).

Pneumococcal Disease
Signs and symptoms include fever, chills, cough, and chest pain.
Pneumococcal disease can lead to meningitis (infection of the brain and spinal cord coverings), blood infections, ear infections, pneumonia, deafness, and brain damage.

Signs and symptoms include watery diarrhea (sometimes severe), vomiting, fever, and stomach pain.
Rotavirus can lead to dehydration and hospitalization.
Any of these diseases can lead to death.

How do babies catch these diseases?

Usually from contact with other children or adults who are already infected, sometimes without even knowing they are infected. A mother with Hepatitis B infection can also infect her baby at birth. Tetanus enters the body through a cut or wound; it is not spread from person to person.

Download a Handout

More Resources:

What is a Vaccine: http://www.niaid.nih.gov/topics/vaccines/understanding/Pages/whatVaccine.aspx
Vaccine Resources at CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/index.html
Reye’s Syndrome: http://www.reyessyndrome.org
CDC Vaccine Video, Get The Picture: http://www.cdc.gov/CDCTV/GetThePicture/index.html
CDC: Vaccinations

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What Are Vaccinations?

How Vaccines Work:
Vaccines help make you immune to serious diseases without getting sick first. Without a vaccine, you must actually get a disease in order to become immune to the germ that causes it. Vaccines work best when they are given at certain ages. For example, children don’t receive measles vaccine until they are at least one year old. If it is given earlier it might not work as well. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention publishes a schedule for childhood vaccines from birth to 18 years of age.

Understanding the difference between vaccines, vaccinations, and immunizations can be tricky. Below is an easy guide that explains how these terms are used:

A vaccine is a product that produces immunity from a disease and can be administered through needle injections, by mouth, or by aerosol.

A vaccination is the injection of a killed or weakened organism that produces immunity in the body against that organism.

An immunization is the process by which a person or animal becomes protected from a disease. Vaccines cause immunization, and there are also some diseases that cause immunization after an individual recovers from the disease.

Vaccines are held to the highest standard of safety. The United States currently has the safest, most effective vaccine supply in history. Vaccines undergo a rigorous and extensive evaluation program to determine a product’s safety and effectiveness. If a vaccine does receive approval by FDA, it is continuously monitored for safety and effectiveness.

Vaccine Benefits: Why get vaccinated?

Diseases have injured and killed many children over the years in the United States. Polio paralyzed about 37,000 and killed about 1,700 every year in the 1950s.

Hib disease was once the leading cause of bacterial meningitis in children under 5 years of age. About 15,000 people died each year from diphtheria before there was a vaccine. Up to 70,000 children a year were hospitalized because of rotavirus disease. Hepatitis B can cause liver damage and cancer in 1 child out of 4 who are infected, and tetanus kills 1 out of every 5 who get it.

Thanks mostly to vaccines, these diseases are not nearly as common as they used to be. But they have not disappeared, either. Some are common in other countries, and if we stop vaccinating they will come back here. This has already happened in some parts of the world. When vaccination rates go down, disease rates go up.


Most babies can safely get vaccines. But some babies should not get certain vaccines. Your doctor will help you decide.

  • A child who has ever had a serious reaction, such as a life-threatening allergic reaction, after a vaccine dose should not get another dose of that vaccine. Tell your doctor if your child has any severe allergies, or has had a severe reaction after a prior vaccination. (Serious reactions to vaccines and severe allergies are rare.)
  • A child who is sick on the day vaccinations are scheduled might be asked to come back for them.

Talk to your doctor…

  • before getting DTaP vaccine, if your child ever had any of these reactions after a dose of DTaP:
  • A brain or nervous system disease within 7 days,
  • Non-stop crying for 3 hours or more,
  • A seizure or collapse,
  • A fever of over 105°F.
  • before getting Polio vaccine, if your child has a life-threatening allergy to the antibiotics neomycin, streptomycin or polymyxin B.
  • before getting Hepatitis B vaccine, if your child has a life-threatening allergy to yeast.
  • before getting Rotavirus Vaccine, if your child has:
  • SCID (Severe Combined Immunodeficiency),
  • A weakened immune system for any other reason,
  • Digestive problems,
  • Recently gotten a blood transfusion or other blood product,
  • Ever had intussusception (bowel obstruction that is treated in a hospital).
  • before getting PCV13 or DTaP vaccine, if your child ever had a severe reaction after any vaccine containing diphtheria toxoid (such as DTaP).


Vaccines can cause side effects, like any medicine.  Most vaccine reactions are mild: tenderness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given; or a mild fever. These happen to about 1 child in 4. They appear soon after the shot is given and go away within a day or two.

Other Reactions

Individual childhood vaccines have been associated with other mild problems, or with moderate or serious problems:

  • DTaP vaccine
  • Mild problems: Fussiness (up to 1 child in 3); tiredness or poor appetite (up to 1 child in 10); vomiting (up to 1 child in 50); swelling of the entire arm or leg for 1-7 days (up to 1 child in 30) – usually after the 4th or 5th dose.
  • Moderate problems: Seizure (1 child in 14,000); non-stop crying for 3 hours or longer (up to 1 child in 1,000); fever over 105°F (1 child in 16,000).
  • Serious problems: Long term seizures, coma, lowered consciousness, and permanent brain damage have been reported. These problems happen so rarely that it is hard to tell whether they were actually caused by the vaccination or just happened afterward by chance.

Polio vaccine / Hepatitis B vaccine / Hib vaccine

  • These vaccines have not been associated with other mild problems, or with moderate or serious problems.

Pneumococcal vaccine

  • Mild problems: During studies of the vaccine, some children became fussy or drowsy or lost their appetite.

Rotavirus vaccine

  • Mild problems: Children who get rotavirus vaccine are slightly more likely than other children to be irritable or to have mild, temporary diarrhea or vomiting. This happens within the first week after getting a dose of the vaccine.
  • Serious problems: Studies in Australia and Mexico have shown a small increase in cases of intussusception within a week after the first dose of rotavirus vaccine. So far, this increase has not been seen in the United States, but it can’t be ruled out. If the same risk were to exist here, we would expect to see 1 to 3 infants out of 100,000 develop intussusception within a week after the first dose of vaccine.

Download a Who Should Not Get Vaccinated Handout

What if there is a serious reaction?

What should I look for?
Look for anything that concerns you, such as signs of a severe allergic reaction, very high fever, or behavior changes.
Signs of a severe allergic reaction can include hives, swelling of the face and throat, difficulty breathing, a fast heartbeat, dizziness, and weakness. These would start a few minutes to a few hours after the vaccination.

What should I do?
If you think it is a severe allergic reaction or other emergency that can’t wait, call 9-1-1 or get the person to the nearest hospital. Otherwise, call your doctor.

Afterward, the reaction should be reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). Your doctor might file this report, or you can do it yourself through the VAERS web siteExternal Web Site Icon, or by calling 1-800-822-7967.

Vaccination is one of the best ways parents can protect infants, children, and teens from 16 potentially harmful diseases. Vaccine-preventable diseases can be very serious, may require hospitalization, or even be deadly – especially in infants and young children.

Free Immunization and Developmental Milestones for your child – Birth to 6 years of age

Recommended Immunizations Children 7 – 18 years of agecdc_vaccine_tracker
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Interpreting Abbreviations on Records

To interpret commonly used acronyms and abbreviations that health care professionals use to record vaccinations, consult the Vaccine and Acronyms and Abbreviations list. This list also contains manufacturers’ trade names for vaccines and some common abbreviations for vaccine-preventable diseases.

And Remember: Never give a child under the age of 19 aspirin or aspirin products without first talking with a doctor.  You could trigger a deadly disease known as Reye’s Syndrome.


What is a Vaccine: http://www.niaid.nih.gov/topics/vaccines/understanding/Pages/whatVaccine.aspx
Vaccine Resources at CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/index.html
Reye’s Syndrome: http://www.reyessyndrome.org
CDC Vaccine Video, Get The Picture: http://www.cdc.gov/CDCTV/GetThePicture/index.html
CDC: Vaccinations

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