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Prisma Health Children’s Hospital pediatricians warn about outbreaks of preventable and once deadly diseases

Monday, April 1, 2019

Health experts urge parents to take action

Most parents would do anything in their power to protect their children from harm. “The reason more than a dozen devastating diseases have faded from our collective memory is that vaccines have been so effective in eradicating these diseases,” said Caughman Taylor, MD, senior medical director of Prisma Health Children’s Hospital in Columbia. “When has anyone gotten smallpox?”

Taylor and other medical experts are extremely concerned that recent outbreaks of preventable and once-deadly diseases are occurring in children, due to parents being misinformed by social media, non-scientific sources and celebrities who oppose vaccines.

“Over the past five years, the number of South Carolina students who were listed as religiously exempt from vaccination has doubled,” said pediatric infectious diseases physician Anna-Kathryn Burch, MD.

“As a society, we have almost forgotten diseases that once caused significant illness, lifelong residual disability and death in tens of thousands of children each year,” said Taylor. “Our state and country risk the return of these diseases that could cause great harm to children and significant anguish and costs to families. We strongly urge that all children receive the safe vaccines that exist today. Vaccines do not cause autism or any other long term illness.”

The almost forgotten diseases include:

  • Diphtheria (can cause heart failure, paralysis, difficulty breathing, death)
  • Chicken Pox (potentially life-threatening in babies and children with weakened immune systems)
  • Mumps (can cause inflammation of the reproductive organs and brain)
  • Pneumococcal disease (can cause illnesses including ear infections, pneumonia, meningitis)
  • Pertussis (can cause violent coughing and stop babies from breathing)
  • Measles (causes a rash and can lead to pneumonia and other serious complications)
  • Hemophilus (can cause deafness, meningitis or even death)
  • Rubella (dangerous for pregnant women and can cause serious birth defects, miscarriage, death of infants at birth)
  • Tetanus (painful muscle stiffness and can cause death)
  • Polio (cripples those it affects and can cause death)
  • HPV (can cause cancer later in life)

“Vaccines are safe and vaccines protect us all,” said Burch. “As pediatricians, we recognize that vaccines are modern day miracles. We urge all parents to have a discussion with their child’s medical provider about the importance and safety of vaccines and whether their child is up to date on all vaccines.”

About Prisma Health Children’s Hospital

Prisma Health Children’s Hospital in Columbia is South Carolina’s first children's hospital and has more than 150,000 children’s visits each year. It offers more than 30 subspecialties to meet the unique health care needs of children and has central South Carolina's only Children’s Emergency Center. With more than 350 professionals who work exclusively with children, Prisma Health Children’s Hospital has a team of highly skilled and trained experts unmatched by any hospital in the Midlands. Prisma Health Children’s Hospital is the place to go for children's medical care, because the best care matters.

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