Thursday, October 01, 2015
Doctor's Perspective
Vaccines are still necessary

By Dr. Anthony Policastro The saying familiarity breeds contempt" is often at work in the medical world. A good example is in the area of public health. We have come a long way in public health in the last 100 years. In the early twentieth century, we had many children die from common diseases. Diphtheria killed about 13,000 children per year. Measles killed about 7,500 children per year. Whooping cough (pertussis) killed about 5,000 children per year. Even smallpox killed 1,000 children per year. Chickenpox accounted for 100 deaths per year. Overall, about 30,000 children died every year due to what we called common" childhood illnesses. We then developed immunizations for these diseases. The smallpox vaccine was the first one developed but was not in widespread use. However, we started using it worldwide and, in 1988, we declared smallpox extinct. Of course, labs in the US and Russia still have strains of smallpox so it is not exactly extinct. The next vaccine developed was the combined diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus vaccine followed by the polio vaccine. In the late 1960s, we developed a combined measles-mumps-rubella vaccine. Then later we began using chickenpox vaccine. There are others that we now use but the first ones developed were the ones against the more serious and common diseases. The vaccines have been so effective that we take them for granted. However, there are many people who still think that there is not a reason to give vaccines. Our familiarity with their effects in the United States has led to a form of contempt. That is not the same outside the United States. We tend to take our well child care for granted. That is not true for the rest of the world. Worldwide there were still 122,000 deaths per year from measles in 2014. The good news is that the number was down significantly from the 562,000 worldwide deaths in 2000. Worldwide there are about 200,000 pertussis deaths per year. Even in the United States we have about 10-20 deaths from pertussis per year with immunization. Worldwide there are about 5,000 chickenpox deaths per year. That being said, we have eradicated smallpox worldwide. As of 2014 polio continued to exist in only three countries in the world (Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria). So there indeed have been some good success stories. However, we still have a long way to go. The fact that all of these diseases are no longer as deadly as they once were should not lead us to be complacent about vaccines. The recent Disneyland outbreak of measles shows how easy it is for one of them to spread among unvaccinated individuals. Parents talk about what they see as individual rights to not give their children immunizations. The question really is do they have the right to expose their children to deadly diseases? In addition, a better question is whether they have the right to expose everyone else to their diseased children when they are responsible for an outbreak of the disease. Their contempt for the vaccines is driven by what they see as familiar. They feel that no one gets these diseases anymore, therefore, we do not need the immunizations. They only have to travel to some third world countries to see what happens when immunizations are not so readily available.

Bariatric Support Group Nanticoke Physician Network General & Bariatric Surgery will host bariatric support groups on the first Tuesday and third Thursday of each month from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital in the Medical Staff Conference Room. This free group is designed to provide education and support to patients before and after their bariatric weight loss surgery. Support group meetings will consist of guest speakers and presentations to provide useful information about nutrition, supplements, exercise and behavior modifications. Patients and their spouses, family members or friends are welcome to attend. Registration is not required. This month's meetings will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 6 and Thursday, Oct. 15. For more information, contact Shelly Geis at 629-6611, ext. 8810.

Diabetes Education Program Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will hold a four-session diabetes education program, The Diabetes Connection, on Oct. 6, 13, 20, and 27, from 9:30-11:30 a.m. The cost of the program may be reimbursable by insurance. The four-session diabetic program includes weekly education sessions in a group setting and individualized meal planning for diabetes self-management. One family member or significant other is welcome to attend. Pre-registration is required prior to attending classes. To register and to obtain more information regarding the course, contact Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Diabetes Education Department at 629-6611, ext. 2446.

Free Glucose Screening Select Nanticoke EZ Lab locations will offer free A1C blood glucose screenings from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 7. Fasting and pre-registration is not required. The following EZ Lab locations will offer screenings: Bridgeville EZ Lab (337-8571), Laurel EZ Lab (715-5233) and Georgetown EZ Lab (856-1762). For more information, call 629-6611, ext. 2446.

Nanticoke welcomes Dr. Agarwal Nanticoke Physician Network welcomes Dr. Kunal Agarwal, MD, to its active medical staff. Dr. Agarwal, who specializes in family medicine and sleep medicine, is accepting new patients at the Nanticoke Family Practice Center in Seaford. Dr. Agarwal received his bachelor of arts in neuroscience from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and his doctor of medicine from Ross University School of Medicine in Portsmouth, Dominica. He completed his residency in family medicine at Western Michigan University School of Medicine in Kalamazoo, Mich. and a fellowship in sleep medicine at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Mich. Dr. Agarwal will also serve as the medical director of the Sleep Disorder Center at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital. He is board-certified in family medicine and is a member of the American Academy of Family Medicine, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, the American Medical Association and the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin.

Drug Take-Back Event a success In its most successful Prescription Drug Take-Back Day event ever, Delaware collected 7,227 pounds of unwanted or expired medicine according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the state Division of Public Health (DPH). Held on Sept. 12, this was Delaware's eleventh Drug Take-Back Day since the program began in 2010. A total of 52,002 pounds of unwanted or expired medicines has now been collected from all 11 events combined. National studies show that more than 70 percent of people abusing prescription pain relievers obtain them through friends or relatives, or by raiding medicine cabinets. The studies also suggest that twice as many Americans regularly abused prescription drugs than the number who regularly used cocaine, hallucinogens, heroin, and inhalants combined. For recommendations on handling unwanted or expired prescription drugs, contact the DEA at 800-882-9539. If you were unable to participate in the Sept. 12 event, you can still dispose of your prescription medication at one of Delaware's eight permanent drug disposal sites. View the list of sites online at

Nanticoke offers flu shots It's time to get your seasonal flu shot. Influenza is a serious disease that affects many people, including the elderly and those with serious, long-term health problems. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone get a seasonal flu vaccine every year. Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will offer seasonal flu shots to individuals 16 years of age and older at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Mears Health Campus (Rehabilitation Services Building, 300 Rawlins Dr., Seaford) on: Wednesday, Oct. 14 from 8 a.m. to noon and Wednesday, Oct. 21 from 2-6 p.m. A donation of $10 per vaccination is appreciated. Pre-registration is not required. For more information, please call 629-6611, ext. 8948.

Safe Sitter Class Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will host a Safe Sitter class from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 9, for children ages 11 to 13, who are interested in learning child care essentials and safety. The Safe Sitter course is designed to train tweens and teens on how to be safe baby/child sitters. Components include infant/child development and care, safety, injury prevention, first aid, accident management, rescue breathing and choking management. Cost is $35 per student, which includes the class and all materials. Advance registration is required. To register or for more information, call 629-6611, ext. 2540.

Tea for breast cancer survivors October is Breast Cancer Survivors Month and the Cancer Support Community-DE, Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition, American Cancer Society, and the Nanticoke Cancer Care Center will honor breast cancer survivors at a special Pink Ribbon Tea. Join other survivors and enjoy an afternoon of inspiration and time of celebration. The Nanticoke Pink Ribbon Tea will take place at 1:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 16, at Seaford Library. To register, call 645-9150 by Oct. 9. Light refreshments will be served. This event is free of charge, but seating is limited.

National Physical Therapy Month Tidewater Physical Therapy Rehabilitation and Associates P.A., is celebrating National Physical Therapy Month in October, as they employ 17 physical therapists, 19 physical therapy assistants, and 40 physical therapy technicians at 16 locations across Delmarva. They also work with an average of 10 physical therapy interns each year. National Physical Therapy Month, hosted by the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), is a nationally recognized celebration each October that highlights the benefits of physical therapy and recognizes the 88,000 physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and students of physical therapy who help improve the physical well being of today's society. Physical therapists (PTs) are highly-educated healthcare professionals who are licensed to help patients reduce pain and restore mobility - without expensive surgery and the need for long-term prescription medications and their side effects. After 30 years in business with 16 clinics in Maryland and Delaware and over one hundred employees, one thing remains constant - our commitment to the community to provide quality care in a welcoming atmosphere," said Tidewater Physical Therapy Chief Operating Officer Jennifer Walter.

Diabetes Prevention Class Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will host a Diabetes Prevention Class at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 2, in the Medical Staff Conference Room. This two-session course is designed for individuals who have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes, a condition where blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be classified as diabetes. Utilizing resources developed by the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP), this course provides individuals with basic tools to help them make lifestyle changes and reduce their risk for developing diabetes. Cost is $20 per person and a physician referral is required for registration. For more information and to register, call 629-6611, ext. 2288.

Joe Hall Memorial Golf Outing The Joe Hall Memorial Golf Outing to benefit Delaware Hospice will be held at Cripple Creek Golf and Country Club in Dagsboro on Monday, Oct. 5. Registration is at 10 a.m. followed by lunch at 11. The shotgun start is at noon. An awards reception will be held at 5:30 p.m Foursomes and sponsorship opportunities are available. To register or for more information, visit or contact Peggy Dolby at 302-746-4666.