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Wednesday, January 9, 2008

VAR, DTP, IPV, HiB and more acronyms we use to confuse you...

Here is a question posted to me.

"I have never had chicken pox. Neither have either of my sisters or my mom (dad may have had it, but if he did, it was when he was a kid and he's never mentioned it). I have complete copies of my pediatric records, but seeing as my doctor was a doctor and not a nun [drbabymamadrama note: I guess nuns have really good handwriting?], I can hardly decipher his writing. There are little charts in my record that are marked with other vaccines I was given, but I can't figure out if I was ever vaccinated against chicken pox. What is/are the name(s) and abbreviation(s) for the vaccine(s)? Is there a standard way to notate this on a medical chart? I'm trying to make sure I'm not going to end up in the hospital for a week when I'm 30 because I've never had the 'pox and was never vaccinated against it."

I apologize on behalf of all illegibly writing physicians. They teach us how to confuse you during your second year.
To answer your main question before I go off on my tangents, the abbreviation for chickenpox is VAR (varicella). Other common abbreviations that you may need to interpret someday are as follows:

-DTaP: diptheria-tetanus-pertussis
-IPV/OPV: polio
-Hib: Haemophilus influenza type B (introduced in 1985, widespread use in 1987); us old timers never got this one. We fought off our meningitis and epiglottitis the old-fashioned way!
-PCV7: Prevnar or the conjugate pneumococcal vaccine (introduced around 2000 or so)
-HepB: Hepatitis B
-MMR: measles, mumps and rubella
-HepA: Hepatitis A (newly recommended in 2005; Chi-Chi's went down in 2004 from their HepA outbreak. Coincidence? I think not.)
-HPV: Gardasil, the human papillomavirus, cervical cancer one (you know, the commercial with the girls wanting to be "one less" and jumping rope?)

There are some other vaccines, including the ones for rotavirus, meningitis, influenza, etc. Those aren't as commonly given.

Of note, if you ever misplace your immunization record or someone loses it (ahem, my old doctor's office right before I had to get documentation of shots for med school), have hope. Your doctor can actually draw blood and send titers to check and see if you have antibodies to the particular disease that you are looking for. I am still convinced that if I apply to work for the CIA someday, my missing shot record from my old doctor's office would "magically" reappear. But that would mean that I would have to work for the CIA. I did have a little obsession with the show "Alias" for the first few seasons (before it started getting weird). I could make a good spy. But I would probably have to get rid of the blog, probably. Or maybe I am a spy and I am luring you all into my tawdry web. Mwaaahaaahaaa! Yeah, I'm not a spy. I'm just sticking it to "the Man" one post at a time. Whatever that means.


Beth Sprague said...

I loved Alias as well - no wonder I find you so cool!!

Jenn said...

So now that I know what they are, I need to know if Hudson needs all of them... any advice?

DrMama said...

That is really something to discuss with your pedi. I will say that I don't know of a single pediatrician who would delay or not give any of the standard childhood vaccines to their own child. My kid got everything! I think some of the newly recommended ones (rotavirus, HepA) are the ones that most docs feel comfortable delaying or forgoing at the present. MMR is the big controversial one that is mentioned all the time. I will post a link to the new findings out from California.

Anonymous said...

If you are over a certain age, the chicken pox vaccine was not available (I am 28 and had the actual pox - no vaccine).

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