HPC kicks off Patient Safety Awareness Week, March 12-18, 2023

By Lee Champion, MSN, FCN, RN, Clinic Director/Risk and Compliance Officer at Health Partnership Clinic

The COVID-19 pandemic and increases in flu and respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV cases continue to remind us of the importance of patient safety in everything we do at Health Partnership Clinic. During March 12-18, we celebrate Patient Safety Awareness Week. Although patient safety is an integral part of our processes and protocols, March is dedicated to building awareness among our staff and patients. Bottom line, safety is everyone’s responsibility.

To learn more, watch our newest video: 

Improving Patient Safety Begins With You

Here are a few steps to ensure your safety when visiting the clinic:

  • Washing HandsMost importantly, wash your hands on a regular basis (before eating, after eating, after using the restroom, etc.) and sneeze in your arms not in your hands.
  • Everyone working at or visiting our clinics must wear masks while on campus. Masks work to decrease the droplets that can carry COVID-19 and other germs.
  • Chairs are spaced apart in our lobby areas to provide less contact between patients and visitors.
  • We offer telemedicine visits if you would prefer to stay at home for your visit. If you are sick with COVID-19, a telemedicine visit allows you to discuss your care with a provider.
  • Dividers have been installed in our Olathe Pediatric lobby to separate patients who are sick from patients who have appointments for physicals and preventative care.
  • Protective MaskWe are participating in the Federal program to distribute COVID-19 Home Testing Kits. You can pick up kits at our clinic locations by asking the front desk. Limit two per household member.
  • We also continue to offer COVID vaccines on the second Friday of the month in Olathe. To schedule, call 913-648-2266.
  • Keep an eye on your children at all times. Running and playing are not permitted in the clinic.

For updates on how we are addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit us  at https://hpcks.org/coronavirus.

Six Questions Parents Are Asking About COVID-19

Cheri El-HalawanyBy Cheri El-Halawany, MD, FAAP, Pediatrician at Health Partnership Clinic

As a board-certified pediatrician at Health Partnership Clinic (HPC), Cheri El-Halawany, MD, FAAP, is always fielding questions from worried parents. With a spike in COVID-19 cases, there are growing concerns of parents regarding the vaccine, navigating a new normal and prevention. Dr. El-Halawany responds to six questions parents are asking most about COVID-19.

Q: My children’s elementary school has notified us that all students will be back in person 100 percent of the time in August. My kids are too young for the vaccine, should I be worried?

A: I hear this a lot from concerned parents. Unlike last year, we have a lot more data on this virus, including how it impacts our elementary school age children. Fortunately, children in this age group have proven remarkably resilient to the virus. While there is still a chance that a child will come down with a serious case, most children that catch the virus avoid serious illness and don’t experience long term symptoms. I am not saying that COVID is no big deal in children, but it is a much more manageable risk in this population. Most health professionals agree that the negative impacts of remote learning on intellectual and social development (as well as child temperament) more than outweigh the risks of illness in this age group.

Q: So, what does the “new normal” look like for families? It seems like we just got our kids used to wearing masks, and now they don’t have to anymore. Are there any habits we should continue?

A: One of the few pleasant side effects of our “COVID Year”, as I sometimes call it, was the low rate of flu infections. We were too busy taking care of COVID patients to celebrate, but our influenza admissions to the local hospitals were the lowest in several decades. Many of the most common COVID practices (hand washing, disinfecting surfaces, limiting exposure to crowds of people during the flu season, etc.) are effective strategies for avoiding seasonal illnesses. Also, the focus on vaccination as the most important part of our nation’s COVID recovery plan applies to so many other serious diseases for which vaccines exist. We should all be asking our primary care physicians if we need any booster shots or vaccines at our next appointment.

Q: How do you feel about vaccinating children? I have heard of side effects, some minor and a few severe. Does the risk warrant it?

Mother with children at the pediatrician officeA: I believe in each of the COVID vaccines. Many of the vaccine manufacturers have been studying their effects in children and young adults for several months prior to their recent approval. I agree with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recent approval of vaccinating individuals 12 and over. I believe the regulators have done a nice job of balancing the benefits of vaccination with a measure of deliberateness needed to make sure each vaccine is safe in younger age groups. Bottom line: I would not hesitate to give my own child a vaccine approved for use by the CDC.

Q: Are there any activities that we should avoid?

A: We all know that kids will be kids, and sometimes it feels like they are walking petri dishes. I, along with many other pediatricians, have been very encouraged by the relatively low transmission rates in elementary schools that reopened toward the end of this last school year. While scientists are still studying how the virus is spread within the child population, we suspect that children benefit from a number of circumstances, including a more resilient immune response, to coronaviruses in general.

That being said, I would still encourage caution with very high traffic play areas that are challenging to keep clean. Ball pits may be fun, but they were kind of gross even before the pandemic, and it’s best to stay clear for a little while longer. However, in line with CDC guidance, it’s generally safe to resume organized sports, choir and band.

Q: We have put off all non-necessary visits to the doctor, as well as non-emergency in-patient procedures, during the pandemic. Is it safe to go back to the hospital and my doctor’s office?

A: The short answer is yes. In the early days, we were concerned about a lack of PPE and potential cross-transmission between patients. The PPE shortages have been resolved, and patient  cross transmission never proved to be a widespread problem. Almost every hospital has strict rapid COVID testing requirements prior to admission as well as for all Emergency Room patients, so there is at most a minimal risk of contracting the virus in the hospital. To be honest, you’re more likely to get it at the grocery store than at a hospital or doctor’s office.

At HPC, we still require masks and screen for COVID-19. In addition, adult patients (and their legal guardian/caregiver) may attend an appointment. Family or friends must wait in their cars or at home. For our pediatric patients, one parent/guardian is allowed along with minor siblings. We also continue to practice social distancing (minimum of six feet). Our clinics in Olathe, Shawnee Mission, Paola and Ottawa provide COVID testing after assessment from a health provider.

Q: My child has had COVID and recovered from the main illness but is still struggling with some lingering symptoms. What do we know about the long-term effects of the virus?

A: As the experts have said all along, COVID is a serious infection, and like many other serious infections it can leave some patients with a longer road to full recovery. There’s been a lot of talk about COVID “long-haulers” that are still suffering from significant symptoms months after initially contracting the virus. While significant, this is a comparatively small group of patients, and we are still learning about what the road to recovery looks like for patients with lingering effects.

However, there are other infections that patients continue to improve from for months and even years after the onset of symptoms. So, I would encourage those who may still be suffering to not lose hope and be patient as we continue to better understand the effects of the virus and how to best treat them.

Understanding Colds, Flu and COVID and your treatment options!

Maureen CaroBy Maureen Caro, FNP-BC, Family Nurse Practitioner

This winter is gearing up and along with it are the cold and flu! Everyone is very concerned about COVID-19, and there is considerable overlap with symptoms from cold, flu and COVID-19. Of course, the best information comes directly from your provider! At Health Partnership Clinic, we encourage our patients to utilize the patient portal and email any questions or concerns.

A general rule of thumb for differentiating cold and flu is that you can work through a cold, but you can’t work through flu. Of course, I am not recommending anyone go to work with any kind of symptoms this year! However, people coming in pajamas and uncombed hair and falling asleep in my clinic are likely suffering from flu versus a simple cold. Flu tends to cause a fever (often high grade, over 101.3 degrees Fahrenheit), muscle aches, severe headache, fatigue. Cough, congestion, and sometimes diarrhea (more often in children) is also common. Colds tend to be more of an annoyance, a little cough, post-nasal drainage, feeling tired.

Over-the-Counter Recommendations

Understanding Colds, Flu and COVID and your treatment options!

For over-the-counter recommendations, it depends on what symptom you are treating. For cough and nasal congestion, I prefer guaifenesin

to loosen up that drainage. The important thing is to drink a full glass of water with each dose. Guaifenesin is also called Mucinex. You can also get a product containing guaifenesin with dextromethorphan, which is abbreviated DM like Mucinex-DM, this is a cough suppressant. This can sometimes make you drowsy; I recommend it at night.

Dayquil/Nyquil are a good daytime/nighttime combination, just be sure you measure the portions! Pseudoephedrine, also called Sudafed, often abbreviated with a D at the end of the medication name, like Mucinex-D, is a good choice for nasal congestion. Sudafed can act as a mild stimulant, so it is labeled non-drowsy, but it can affect mood. I only recommend it for morning time. I also do not recommend it for anyone with hypertension or heart issues.

Sometimes people will take antihistamines to help dry up nasal drainage. Antihistamines like Benadryl (diphenhydramine, the little pink pills) are going to make you sleepy, so don’t take it and then try to work.

Understanding Colds, Flu and COVID and your treatment options!As a general rule, I only like one combination product to be used at a time, like Dayquil in the morning, Nyquil in the evening, in addition to plain ibuprofen for muscle aches. It is too easy to take too much of one individual medication if you take multiple combination products. Dayquil and Nyquil both contain acetaminophen, so if you take additional acetaminophen on top of that you can damage your liver. Advil/ibuprofen is in a different drug class than Tylenol/ibuprofen, so it is fine to combine ibuprofen doses with Dayquil/Nyquil. Easiest thing to do is to ask a pharmacist when you are there at the pharmacy!


For certainty that something is not COVID-19, the best answer is to call the clinic for a test. I have been seeing a fair amount of diarrhea/GI symptoms without a cough or nasal congestion, although cough and shortness of breath are very common. A fever over 100.4 is common, and one of the consistent symptoms I have seen is loss of smell or taste.

We have the rapid test at HPC that can be used on symptomatic patients in the first seven days of symptoms, so please call the clinic directly to see if we can schedule you for a test. Our main number is 913-648-2266. We might need to schedule you for a telemedicine visit, prior to testing, to evaluate further.

Emergency Room

Understanding Colds, Flu and COVID and your treatment options!Deciding when to go to the ER, can be tricky. Any of my patients telling me they feel short of breath is always concerning. A patient that is struggling to breathe, using chest and throat muscles to breathe, or running out of air with only talking always gets me worried. A fever that cannot be controlled at home with antipyretics such as Tylenol/acetaminophen or Advil/ibuprofen, or a temperature over 103.5 degrees Fahrenheit is also a good reason to go to the ER. A child that is not drinking normally and has dry mucous membranes is also concerning, and if the parent is concerned for their child, their instincts are usually right on the nose. However, if you have a slight sore throat and/or manageable symptoms, stay home and call the clinic!



Thumb Sucking: An Innocent Childhood Habit That Could Have Long Term Effects

By Christina Cook, RDH, ECP II, Dental Department, Health Partnership Clinic

HPC: Dental ThumbsuckingWhile thumb sucking is undeniably adorable the first couple of years, as kindergarten approaches and those front teeth start bucking out, parents can easily start to panic!

Thumb sucking typically emerges in infancy, but the habit may start even earlier. Many babies have had the habit for multiple months before birth and it has been described as the earliest addiction. The habit of thumb sucking in children up to age four is a normal and an innocent reflex. Please beware though! Thumb sucking after the age of four could be a sign of insecurity and discomfort in children and many times becomes more than a habit but a dependency. Like any habit the longer the behavior persists the more difficult it becomes to break. Beyond the psychological dependency there are other possible long-term effects.

Possible Thumb Sucking Complications

  • Changes to the position of the teeth. The constant pressure causes the teeth to shift around the shape of the thumb. This is called an open bite and makes it difficult to properly bite into and eat the foods we love.
  • Constant pressure of the thumb against the roof of the mouth can contribute to a high narrow arched roof of the mouth.
  • Thumb sucking anchors the tongue down and forward instead of allowing the tongue to rest in the proper position.
  • Contributes to abnormal tongue patterns.
  • Alters normal breathing patterns and normal facial growth patterns.
  • Contributes to an open mouth resting position of the lips.

Dental Thumbsucking Collage 1

Most dental pros recommend not intervening to stop a thumb sucking habit until age four or five.  The good news is most kids will quit on their own by that time but if the habit persists here are some tips.

Tips for Quitting

  • Praise and reward your child! Star charts, daily rewards and gentle reminders.
  • If your child uses sucking to relieve boredom, keep the hands busy or distract them with things they find fun.
  • No matter what method you try, be sure to explain it to your child. If it makes your child afraid or tense, you should stop it at once because this could have an opposite effect on your child’s progress.
  • Consider trying Mavala Sto, a nail polish with a bitter taste that helps keep the thumb out of the mouth.
  • Books about thumb sucking are a great way to “plant the seed” about quitting, without pressuring the child.

Dental Thumbsucking Collage 2

Sometimes these solutions work, and sometimes the child still needs a little extra time or help. If you see changes in the roof of your child’s mouth or in the way the teeth are lining up, talk with your pediatrician or pediatric dentist for additional help with breaking the habit.

HPC now scheduling in person visits for well-child checks, physicals and immunizations.

By Catherine Rice, Vice President of Marketing/Outreach

Superheroes - Peds

Even in a Pandemic, accessing health care for children is key

The COVID-19 pandemic is front and center in our lives. But it doesn’t stop children from growing or needing life-saving vaccines. That’s why Health Partnership Clinic continues to keep the doors open. Patients can access care, such as well child checks, physicals and immunizations, via in person visits or telemedicine, when appropriate.

Wael S. Mourad, MD, MHCM, FAAFPAccording to Wael S. Mourad, MD, MHCM, FAAFP, Chief Health Officer and Family Physician, the clinic continues to expand and modify procedures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to keep families safe. This includes everything from all patients and staff wearing masks to limiting only one parent/guardian to attend an appointment with their child to social distancing.

“At HPC, we understand parents may be concerned about keeping standing well-visits for their children or scheduling school or sport physicals,” he says. “However, the American Academy of Pediatrics encourages parents to not delay their child’s preventive care screenings and well-child visits—steps that are vital to a child’s health.”

“Well visits and physicals may be initiated through telemedicine, recognizing that some elements of the well exam should be completed in-person. These elements include, at a minimum: the comprehensive physical exam; office testing, including laboratory testing; hearing, vision, and oral health screening; fluoride varnish; and immunizations.  We are now scheduling in person visits by calling 913-648-2266.”

Like a child’s first steps or first lost tooth, well-visits and immunizations are critical childhood milestones. They are designed to allow for ongoing assessments of infants and toddlers during critical developmental stages, ensure appropriate growth and nutrition and optimize vaccinations before a child encounters a potentially life-threatening infection.

Should You Keep Your Scheduled Appointments?

Health Partnership Clinic: Pediatric AppointmentsYes! Missing your scheduled well visits may limit a provider’s ability to catch developmental, social and emotional conditions early on when there’s still an opportunity for early intervention. Additionally, you may hinder the important process of protecting your child from serious illness through vaccination.

“COVID-19 is not the only infection risk for children,” Dr. Mourad says. “Infections like whooping cough or the measles are potentially even more life threatening for children.”


To reduce the potential spread of COVID-19:

  • If you have severe symptoms and feel you need to be seen, please call Health Partnership’s dedicated phone line at 913-276-7012 before coming to the clinic.
  • All patients are required to wear a mask.
  • Only adult patients (and their legal guardians) are allowed in the clinic. Family or friends must wait in their cars.
  • Pediatric patients are allowed one parent/guardian to attend an appointment. No additional siblings or family members are allowed.
  • Pediatric visits for well-child, physicals and immunizations may be scheduled for multiple family members. Children must be healthy and symptom free.
  • Please practice social distancing for the safety of all.
  • If you (or your child) have a mild illness and feel comfortable managing with supportive care measures at home, please do so.

Pediatric Walk-In Services at Olathe Clinic: Convenient for those unexpected illnesses and injuries.

HPC Pediatric Walk-In ClinicBy Catherine Rice, Vice President of Marketing/Outreach

Health Partnership Clinic knows that illnesses and injuries can come up quickly. For your convenience, we offer walk-in pediatric care at the Olathe clinic, 407 S. Clairborne Rd., Olathe, Kan., Monday-Friday, from 7:30 a.m. to Noon. The clinic serves children and adolescent under 18 years old.

The clinic is open to HPC patients and community.

Consider using the Pediatric Walk-In Clinic if your child has a symptom listed below that started recently and is of a non-severe nature.

  • Common cough or cold
  • Fever
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Rash
  • Pinkeye
  • Minor injuries
  • Ear pain
  • Sore throat
  • Wheezing or acute asthma
  • Possible urinary tract infection
  • Sinus infection
  • Well child exam

The clinic accepts commercial insurance and KanCare/Medicaid. Discounted medical care is also available to eligible patients.

Baby and Father

When to make an appointment instead

Note that not all visits are appropriate for walk-in. If your child has ongoing symptoms such as stomachaches and headaches, requires newborn or ER follow-up or has special or complex health care needs, please call for an appointment at 913-648-2266 so we can schedule an appropriate amount of time to address those needs.

For concussion injury, please go to your nearest ER.

Tips to Help Control Allergies and Asthma this Spring

Emily Bush

Emily Bush

Post written by Emily M. Bush, MD, Board Certified Physician in Pediatrics, Health Partnership Clinic

Each year, May is designated National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). Springtime is the peak season for asthma and allergies and a good time to educate patients, family and friends about these diseases.

Asthma affects more than 26 million Americans including more than six million children under the age of 18. More than 50 million Americans live with a variety of allergies including pollen, skin, latex and more. Allergic asthma is the most common type of asthma.

Approximately 90 percent of kids with asthma have allergies compared to 50 percent of adults with asthma.


Symptoms of allergies can vary in severity. Mild allergy symptoms include congestion, skin rash and itchy watery eyes. Moderate symptoms include difficulty breathing and itchiness.

Symptoms of asthma include coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and tightness in the chest. Severe asthma symptoms can begin with itching of the eyes and face, but soon progress to swelling, causing breathing difficulties, cramps, diarrhea and vomiting.


Asthma and AllergySome common causes of allergic asthma are allergens small enough to be breathed into the lungs such as:

  • Windblown pollen from trees, grass and weeds
  • Mold spores and fragments
  • Animal dander from hair, skin or feathers
  • Dust mite feces
  • Cockroach feces

Irritants can also trigger an asthma attack, even if they don’t cause an allergic reaction.  These irritants include:

  • Smoke from tobacco, a fireplace, candles or fireworks
  • Air pollution
  • Cold air
  • Exercise in cold air
  • Strong chemical odors or fumes
  • Perfumes, air fresheners or other scented products
  • Dusty rooms

Controlling Allergens

Web MD offers the following tips to control allergens:

  1. Stay inside when pollen counts are high. Keep your windows closed. If it is hot, use an air conditioner with a clean air filter.
  2. Avoid dust mites. Dust mites live in fabrics and carpet. Wrap you bedding in allergen proof covers. Wash your bed sheets once a week in hot water. Get rid of wall to wall carpet, along with heavy curtains and upholstered furniture, if you can.
  3. Control indoor humidity. If moisture in your house is above 40 percent, use a dehumidifier or air conditioner. This will dry out the air and slow the growth of molds, cockroaches and house dust mites.
  4. Check for pet allergies. If you have pets, get tested to see if they are the cause of your problem. It may be necessary to rehome them or keep them outside. At the very least, ban all pets from the bedroom.
  5. Keep your kitchen and bathroom clean and dry to prevent mold and cockroaches. If you are allergic to cockroaches and you see signs of them in your home, you will have to contact a pest control company, insect spray will not do the trick. Run the exhaust fan when you cook or take a shower to lower the humidity in the room.
  6. Be careful doing work outside. Gardening and raking can stir up pollen and mold. Wear a HEPA filter mask while outside to reduce the amount of pollen and mold particles that get in your lungs.

Remember to schedule regular asthma check-ups with your health care provider and don’t hesitate to seek emergency care when necessary. Appointments are available by calling 913-648-2266.

Behavioral Health Joins Forces with Pediatric Medical and Dental Providers


Rhiannon Moore, MA, PSYD

Post written by Rhiannon Moore, MA, PSYD, Licensed Psychologist
Behavioral Health Clinician and Assistant Director of Behavioral Health

In the pursuit of improving overall wellness…

Behavioral Health joins forces with pediatric medical and dental providers

Health Partnership Clinic’s Behavioral Health Team is joining forces with pediatric medical and dental providers to promote overall wellness, routine maintenance of mental health and prevention of mental illness through the provision of integrated Behavioral Health services following pediatric medical visits.

On Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays a Behavioral Health Clinician (BHC) will be collaborating with medical and dental staff to provide same-day brief behavioral health visits for pediatric patients. BHC interactions with patient/parent may include (but are not limited to):

  • Developmental screening
  • BH Peds Pilot pic 1Screening for exposure to traumatic events
  • Depression, anxiety, substance use screening
  • Psychoeducation regarding mental health promotion, prevention and maintenance
  • Education regarding the relationship between physical and mental health
  • Brief interventions to address sleep hygiene, nutrition/physical activity, stress management
  • Parenting education
  • Education regarding available community-based resources
  • Education regarding full spectrum of behavioral health services available through HPC

More extensive visits with a BHC may be scheduled for follow-up care or to address significant mental or behavioral health concerns.

The goal is to provide patients and their parents/guardians with the information and skills needed to prevent and/or manage symptoms of mental illness to reduce the significant negative impact these conditions can have on individuals and families.

Tips for Avoiding Common Asthma Triggers 

Patti West

Patti West, APRN, Nurse Practitioner

Post written by Patti West, APRN, Nurse Practitioner, Health Partnership Clinic 

Does your child suffer from Asthma?

Watching your child struggle to breathe or talk can be very frightening.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s 2015 and 2016 National Health Interview Surveys (NHIS), about 24.6 million people have asthma, including 6.1 million children.

Children with asthma may experience wheezing, coughing, chest tightness and trouble breathing, often early in the morning or at night.

Because a child has smaller airways than an adult, asthma can be especially serious for them.

While many people may feel relief from their asthma symptoms during the summer months, common summertime allergens can pose problems for many asthmatics.

Some people with asthma react poorly to heat and humidity. Summer weather also tends to coincide with poorer air quality. It is important to be especially mindful on ozone alert days.

Asthma triggers can make your child’s symptoms start to appear or possibly worsen into a full-blown asthma attack. Watch for these 10 common triggers.

  • Air pollution: You cannot control the quality of air in the area in which you live, but you can limit your child’s exposure to it. Stay indoors on hot days, especially in the afternoon and evenings when pollution in the air from smog is usually worse. Pay attention to changes in air quality. You can find air quality reports online or on local TV, radio stations or in newspapers.
  • Doctor, child, inhaler mask for breathing, hospitalDust mites: Where there is dust, there are dust mites. These creatures are so tiny that they cannot be seen but they live in sheets, pillowcases, carpeting and upholstered furniture. Keep your home as clean as possible and eliminate dust and clutter from your child’s bedroom whenever possible.
  • Heightened emotions: Extreme sadness, anger or excitement cannot be controlled, but you can teach your child to take deep calming breaths to help him or her relax when they are upset.
  • Exercise: Just because your child has asthma does not mean that they have to sit on the sidelines. Talk to your health care provider to plan an approach to appropriate physical activities for your child.
  • Foods: Allergies to certain foods such as nuts, shellfish or dairy products can make your child’s asthma worse.  If you suspect that your child has an undiagnosed food allergy, talk to your health care provider who may suggest seeing a specialist.
  • Infections: Cold, flu or other viral infections can be an asthma trigger for children. During cold and flu season make sure your child washes their hands and try to keep them away from infected individuals. Make sure they get a yearly flu shot and adequate sleep and exercise and that they eat well.
  • Pet dander: If your child’s asthma is triggered by pet dander, make sure to keep your pet out of your child’s bedroom at all times. You can also try giving your pet a bath weekly.  Do not allow your child to brush your pet which stirs up dander making it easier to breathe it in.
  • Secondhand smoke: It is very important that children with asthma stay away from cigarette smoke. If you or someone else in your household smokes, the best thing you can do is quit.  Make sure family activities take place in a smoke-free environment. Teach your child to move away from adults that light up near them.
  • Smells: Strong smells from things like perfume, cleaning products and hairspray can be asthma triggers. Look for natural cleaning products and avoid using scented candles and air fresheners in your home.
  • Changes in weather: Extremely cold windy days, hot humid days or any change in the weather can trigger your child’s asthma symptoms. Keep your child inside when possible if the weather is extremely hot or cold. A scarf to cover your child’s nose and mouth can help during the brutal winter months.

Remember to schedule regular asthma checkups with your child’s health care provider and don’t hesitate to seek emergency care when necessary. Pediatric appointments are available by calling 913-648-2266.

To schedule an appointment in Paola call 913-294-9223. For an appointment in Ottawa call 913-401-2750.

Protection Through Immunization

Emily Bush

Emily M. Bush, MD | Board Certified Physician in Pediatrics

Post written by Emily M. Bush, MD | Board Certified Physician in Pediatrics |Health Partnership Clinic

The recent measles outbreak in the Kansas City area is scary for many parents and providers. That is why providers at HPC believe children need to be protected with life-saving vaccines.

National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW) is April 21-28. NIIW is observed annually to highlight the importance of protecting infants from vaccine-preventable diseases and celebrate the achievements of immunization programs and their partners in promoting healthy communities.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), your child’s first vaccines protect against seven childhood diseases that can be prevented:

  1. Diphtheria (the ‘D’ in DTaP vaccine)

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

*About 15,000 people died annually in the U.S. from diphtheria before there was a vaccine.

  1. Tetanus (the ‘T’ in DTaP vaccine; also known as Lockjaw)

Signs and symptoms include a painful tightening of the muscles, usually all over the body. Tetanus can lead to stiffness of the jaw that can make it difficult to open the mouth or swallow.

*Tetanus kills about one person out of every 10 who get it.

  1. Pertussis (the ‘P’ in DTaP vaccine, also known as 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 several weeks. Pertussis can lead to pneumonia, seizures, brain damage, or death. Pertussis can be very dangerous in infants.

*Most pertussis deaths occur in babies younger than three months of age.

  1. Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b)

Signs and symptoms can include fever, headache, stiff neck, cough and shortness of breath. There might not be any signs or symptoms in mild cases. Hib can lead to meningitis (infection of the brain and spinal cord coverings); pneumonia; infections of the ears, sinuses, blood, joints, bones and covering of the heart; brain damage; severe swelling of the throat, making it hard to breathe; and deafness.

*Children younger than five years of age are at greatest risk for Hib disease.

  1. Dr. Bush-Immunization (Custom)Hepatitis B

Signs and symptoms 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.

Some people develop chronic (long-term) hepatitis B infection. These people might not look or feel sick, but they can infect others.

*Hepatitis B can cause liver damage and cancer in one child out of four who are chronically infected.

  1. Polio

Signs and symptoms include flu-like illness, or there may be no signs or symptoms at all. Polio can lead to permanent paralysis and death.

*In the 1950s, polio paralyzed more than 15,000 people every year in the U.S.

  1. Pneumococcal Disease

Signs and symptoms include fever, chills, cough and chest pain. In infants, symptoms can also include meningitis, seizures, and sometimes rash. Pneumococcal disease can lead to meningitis (infection of the brain and spinal cord coverings); infections of the ears, sinuses and blood; pneumonia; deafness and brain damage.

*About one out of 15 children who get pneumococcal meningitis will die from the infection.

Children usually catch these diseases from other children or adults, who might not even know they are infected. A mother infected with hepatitis B can infect her baby at birth. Tetanus enters the body through a cut or wound; it is not spread from person to person.

Other vaccines, including measles, mumps and rubella; varicella; rotavirus; influenza; and hepatitis A are also routinely recommended during the first five years of life.

According to the CDC, several important milestones have been reached in controlling vaccine-preventable diseases among infants worldwide. Vaccines have drastically reduced infant death and disability caused by preventable diseases in the United States. In addition:

  • Through immunization, we can now protect infants and children from 14 vaccine-preventable diseases before age two.
  • In the 1950s, nearly every child developed measles, and unfortunately, some even died from this serious disease. Today, many practicing physicians have never seen a case of measles.
  • Routine childhood immunization in one birth cohort prevents an estimated 381 million illnesses, 24.5 million hospitalizations, and 855,000 early deaths over the course of their lifetimes, at a net savings of $360 billion in direct costs and $1.65 trillion in total societal costs.
  • The National Immunization Survey has consistently shown that childhood immunization rates for vaccines routinely recommended for children remain at or near record levels.

Children need immunizations at birth, two, four, six and 12-15 months, and one to two years of age to protect them against 14 vaccine-preventable diseases. Now is a great time to double check your children’s immunization records to make sure they are up to date. Make sure your children are protected!