Docs Calling the Shots on the Importance of Immunizations
We've witnessed the spread of measles at higher rates than we've seen in decades. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reported that there were more measles cases in the first 6 months of 2019 (1044 cases) than there were in all of 1992 (963 cases) - when the last large outbreak occurred.
|Birth to six years of age
||Hepatitis A and B, Diphtheria/Tetanus/Acellular Pertussis (DTaP), Hib, Pneumococcal (PCV), Measles/Mumps/Rubella (MMR), Chickenpox (Varicella), Polio (IPV), along with the influenza (Flu)
|Children 7-18 years old
||Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis (Tdap), Human Papillomavirus (HPV), Influenza (Flu), and Meningococcal.
Adults under 65
|Flu vaccine annually, Tdap booster every 10 years
Adults 65 and older
|Tdap every 10 years, flu vaccine every year, Shingles (Zoster) vaccine and two doses of Pneumococcal vaccine (one dose each year in two consecutive years).
Why is this happening?
"A drop in immunization rates is largely to blame," shares Dennis Berard, pediatrician at Pleasant Street Pediatrics. "Some parents are concerned that vaccines are unnatural, unnecessary, or unsafe. We live in world where misleading information is readily available. Any suggestion that vaccinations could be harmful is a genuine concern for parents and caregivers who want the best for their children."
Since the 1940's pediatricians and parents have given their children vaccines to protect them and others from disease. Due to the diligence in vaccination, some diseases such as polio and diphtheria are becoming increasingly rare, making it easy for some to question whether or not vaccination is still necessary.
- Vaccines help prevent common infections- some diseases and illnesses are so prevalent, that opting not to vaccinate is choosing to risk a serious infection, such as influenza, pneumonia, and whooping cough vaccines.
- Vaccines help prevent the re-emergence of diseases- some diseases can quickly re-emerge with decreases in immunization rates. We are seeing this now with measles.
- Vaccines prevent infections that are common in other parts of the world- While here in the United States we have virtually eliminated some diseases through vaccination, there are other parts of the world that have not had similar success. Due to the ease of access with regards to travel, outbreaks are a mere plane ride away.
Are Vaccines Safe?
Vaccinations are safe, save lives, and protect our children and each other from infectious disease. And because they are administered to individuals who are not sick, they are held to the highest standards of safety. Vaccinations may cause rare, mild side effects, but these are minor compared to their tremendous benefits," says Dr. Berard. Side effects may include temporary swelling or soreness at the injection site, fever, or an allergic reaction. It is far more likely to become seriously ill by a vaccine-preventable disease than by a vaccine."
Do Vaccines Cause Autism?
There's been quite a bit of controversy regarding vaccinations and the link to autism. A study from the late 1990's raised concerns about a possible link between measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism, but was later retracted as it was found to be flawed and fraudulent. "Multiple studies have since refuted its findings and have found no link to autism," explains Berard. Despite the retraction of the original findings, the study set off a panic that led to dropping immunization rates, and subsequent outbreaks of the measles, mumps, and rubella."
Why Do Vaccines Start So Early?
The recommended schedule of vaccines is intended to provide immunity early in life, before exposure to life-threatening diseases. Children are susceptible to disease at a young age, and delaying the start of vaccinations could be serious and even life-threatening.
Can vaccines be put off or skipped?
"Skipping or putting off vaccines is not recommended. It leaves your child susceptible to potentially serious diseases," says Dr. Berard. "Our Secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, states that 'vaccines are safe and effective, they are among the most highly studied medical products we have and are given safely to millions of children and adults each year.'"
The vaccination schedule used today is set by the CDC based upon recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and is also approved by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians. The schedule takes into consideration both the time frame of highest risk for contracting the disease, and when the vaccine will generate the best immune response.
If you have reservations about particular vaccines, discuss them with your child's doctor, he or she will be able to answer your questions and address your concerns.