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Vaccinate Children Before School Starts

Ann Landers Creators Syndicate

Dear Ann Landers: Now that school will be starting soon, please let your readers know how important it is to immunize their children against easily transmitted childhood diseases. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one-fourth of children in the United States have not been fully immunized against childhood diseases. Children need 80 percent of their vaccinations before they are 2 years old, and most schools will not accept children who have not completed the necessary vaccinations.

While many childhood diseases are not as common as they once were, new outbreaks will occur if children are not properly immunized. The CDC and the American Social Health Association have a toll-free National Immunization Information Hotline. Callers can receive information about chicken pox, diphtheria, haemophilus influenza type B, hepatitis B, influenza, measles, mumps, pneumococcal disease, polio, rubella, tetanus and whooping cough. The hotline gives information on who should be immunized, when to be immunized and sites where vaccines are available.

Please urge your readers to see their doctors or call our hotline at 1-800-232-2522 (Spanish: 1-800-232-0233) for more information. Thank you, Ann, for helping get the word out. - Sharon Broom, ASHA

Dear Sharon: Thank you for suggesting that I get the word out. And special thanks for providing a Spanish language number. There are many people who will benefit from knowing what immunizations are required to send their children to school.

Dear Ann Landers: I am very concerned about a recent column you did on frivolous lawsuits. It mentioned a man who cut off his hand, refused to let the doctors reattach it and then sued the hospital.

I am appalled that you printed the name of this man, who was clearly mentally ill. Even the most casual reader would understand that he was psychotic and suffering from visual and auditory hallucinations when he was admitted to the hospital. To print his name is to hold him up to public ridicule and scorn. It makes it even more difficult for him to deal with his illness.

Obviously, you thought his lawsuit was frivolous. I strongly disagree. I am a certified psychiatric clinical nurse specialist, and I teach psychiatric/ mental health nursing. This man’s thinking was seriously disordered and not in accordance with reality. Because of this, he was unable to give or refuse consent for surgery. Once the man was stabilized on antipsychotic medication and his thought process cleared, he desperately wanted his hand reattached, but by then, it was too late. This was an emergency situation, and his physicians should have acted in the best interests of the patient rather than focusing on his consent.

Finally, I think you should withhold comment on cases such as this until you have all the facts. I think you owe this man an apology. - S.M., Norfolk, Va.

Dear S.M.: My column presented the facts just as they were stated in the press. I feel sad for the man, however, and I am printing your letter in order to show the “other side” of the story.

Your letter raises important issues about the rights of the mentally ill. You’ve educated me on the perspective of a medical professional, and I thank you.

Gem of the Day: Nothing is as difficult to do as getting off your high horse gracefully.

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