This April, the Immune Deficiency Foundation (IDF) celebrates National Primary Immunodeficiency Awareness Month and World PI Week (April 22 -29) by urging parents throughout the U.S. to vaccinate their children. Recent outbreaks of infectious diseases in this country, often mistakenly believed to be eradicated, have highlighted the importance of ‘community immunity’ or ‘herd immunity.’
Herd immunity occurs when most of a population is immunized against a contagious disease and most people in that population are then protected against the disease because an outbreak is less likely. Some Americans have taken herd immunity for granted and some parents have viewed vaccination as an individual choice affecting only their children. What they don’t realize, however, is that their decision affects not only their child, but the entire community.
The health and lives of those with primary immunodeficiency diseases (PI) are dependent on herd immunity. PI represents a group of more than 250 rare, chronic disorders in which part of the body’s immune system is missing or does not function properly. Along with other vulnerable populations, such as the elderly, infants, and those on chemotherapy, the PI community is at higher risk of severe illness and even death if they get infectious diseases. And many people with PI cannot be vaccinated because the vaccine is not safe or does not work to boost their protective immune response.
IDF views Awareness Month as an important opportunity to remind parents of the importance of vaccination and to educate the public about all types of PI diseases. Caused by hereditary or genetic defects, the disorders caNation affect anyone, regardless of age or gender.
“Many parents of children with primary immunodeficiency have contacted IDF about the consequences of other families not immunizing their children,” explained Marcia Boyle, IDF President & Founder, “IDF works to raise awareness of primary immunodeficiency diseases throughout the year, but we are putting special emphasis on this vital issue of immunization during awareness month. The need for education and informed discussion on this topic continues even after cold and flu season winds down. For patients with primary immunodeficiency, it’s literally a matter of life and death.”
Approximately 250,000 people have been diagnosed with a PI in the U.S., but thousands more go undetected and untreated. Education leads to diagnosis and appropriate treatment for people who are suffering from recurrent, often severe infections but have not yet been diagnosed.
With early diagnosis and proper medical care, many patients with PI can live long, healthy lives. For more information, click here to "Ask IDF" or call 800-296-4433.
Frequent Infections Raise a Red Flag
Infections that involve the following characteristics may indicate PI and should be evaluated by a physician:
- Severe – requires hospitalization or intravenous antibiotics
- Persistent – won’t completely clear up or clears very slowly
- Unusual – created by an uncommon organism
- Recurrent – keeps coming back
- Runs in the Family – others in your family have had a similar susceptibility to infection
About the Immune Deficiency Foundation
The Immune Deficiency Foundation (IDF), founded in 1980, is the national non-profit patient organization dedicated to improving the diagnosis, treatment and quality of life of persons with primary immunodeficiency diseases (PI) through advocacy, education and research. There are approximately 250,000 people who are diagnosed with a PI in the U.S. These individuals often find it difficult to receive specialized healthcare, proper diagnosis and treatment. Individuals affected by PI also experience difficulties financing their healthcare, finding educational materials on the disease and locating others with whom to share their experiences. IDF helps these individuals overcome these difficulties and live a healthy and productive life. The constant presence of IDF assures patients, their families and their medical caretakers that there is a place to turn for help. Questions? Visit www.primaryimmune.org/ask-idf.
About World PI Week
IDF joins the efforts of organizations across the globe to promote awareness of primary immunodeficiency diseases during World PI Week, April 22-29. IDF participates in worldwide initiatives to improve the recognition, diagnosis, treatment and quality of life of people with primary immunodeficiency diseases. For more information, visit www.worldpiweek.org.