Loraine Stern, MD
c/o Woman's Day Magazine
New York, NY 10019-6708
Dear Dr. Stern:
Your column in the February 1, 2001 issue of Woman's Day, entitled, "Vaccines: What Parents Should Know," was an excellent and thorough piece overall. However, I would like to offer one small but significant correction. Towards the end of the piece, you make the statement, "Children who have impaired immunity or who live with people who do (such as those who are HIV-positive or are undergoing chemotherapy for cancer) should not receive live, weakened vaccine viruses such as MMR, oral polio or chicken pox."
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children whose immunity may be compromised still receive MMR and chickenpox vaccines as indicated. However, children who have been vaccinated against chickenpox should avoid direct contact with immunocompromised children while they have the chickenpox rash.
You are correct in stating that these children should not receive the oral polio vaccine. However, this should not be an issue in the United States today, since the oral polio vaccine is no longer given here except under very rare circumstances.
This correction does not detract from what was otherwise a very compassionate and knowledgeable treatment of a complex issue that concerns many parents of young children.
Bruce Gellin, MD, MPH
The National Network for Immunization Information