Local health departments urge parents to get children vaccinated
Genesee, Orleans & Wyoming Public Health Column
Parents agree that feeding and sleep schedules are important to help keep their children healthy. The same goes for childhood immunizations. Vaccinating children on time is the best way to protect them against 14 serious and potentially deadly diseases before their second birthday. National Infant Immunization Week, April 21-28, is an opportunity to spread awareness and education on how important it is to vaccinate children against vaccine preventable diseases.
Before a vaccine is approved for use in the U.S., it goes through years of careful testing to make sure it is safe and effective. Highly trained scientists and doctors at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) evaluate the results of these clinical studies. Vaccines are only given to children after they have been approved by scientists, doctors, and healthcare professionals.
Vaccine side effects are almost always mild such as redness or swelling at the site of the shot, but this is minimal compared to the pain, discomfort, and risk of injury and death from the diseases these vaccines prevent. Serious side effects following vaccination, such as severe allergic reaction, are very rare. The disease-prevention benefits of getting vaccinated are much greater than the possible side effects for almost all children.
It is important to follow the recommended immunization schedule to protect infants and children by providing immunity early in life, before they encounter potentially life-threatening diseases. Vaccine preventable diseases still circulate in the United States and around the world, so continued vaccination is necessary to protect everyone from potential outbreaks. Even when diseases are rare in the U.S., they can still be common in many parts of the world and unvaccinated individuals can bring them to the U.S., putting unvaccinated people at risk.
Brenden Bedard, director of Community Health Services for the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments, states that, “Vaccinating your baby according to the recommended immunization schedule gives your child the best protection against 14 serious childhood illnesses like measles and whooping cough before they are 2 years old. The recommended schedule is designed to protect infants and children early in life, when they are most vulnerable and before they are exposed to potentially life-threatening diseases.”
Although the number of vaccines a child needs in the first two years may seem like a lot, doctors know a great deal about the human immune system, and they know that a healthy baby’s immune system can handle getting all vaccines when they are recommended. Bedard cautions against parents delaying vaccination.
“There is no known benefit to delaying vaccination,” he said. “In fact, it puts babies at risk of getting sick because they are left vulnerable to catch serious diseases during the time they are not protected by vaccines.”
If you have questions about the childhood immunization schedule, talk with your child’s doctor or nurse. For more information about vaccines, please visit www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents.