The recent cases of measles in Milwaukee provide a timely lead in to National Infant Immunization Week, April 19-26, 2008. Measles is a highly infectious disease that is vaccine preventable. Before the measles vaccine was available, there were approximately 450,000 cases of measles every year and an average of 450 measles associated deaths a year in the U.S. Americans are fortunate to have a 99% reduction in measles cases since the vaccine was developed.
Measles is just one of fourteen potentially serious diseases that can be prevented by vaccines. Even though vaccine preventable diseases are at an all time low in the U.S., these diseases still exist and can cause an outbreak with unnecessary and heartbreaking consequences. Some of the diseases that are rare in the U.S. are common in other parts of the world and are only a plane ride away. It would be a mistake to assume that a child is completely safe from these diseases just because they are not common in the U.S.
Infants are particularly vulnerable to infectious disease which is why it is so important to protect them through immunization. Granted, the risk of exposure might be low. But if there would be an exposure, there is a good chance that they would get the disease because they would be unprotected. They could get mildly ill, very sick resulting in hospitalization, or at the very worst, they could die. Parents need to ask themselves if their child's health is worth the risk.
Immunizations are one of the most important ways parents can protect their children. Infant vaccines are very safe and 90-99% effective. Like any medicine, they can occasionally cause a mild reaction. A serious reaction would be rare. The most comprehensive scientific studies and reviews have not found a link between vaccines and autism. Children's vaccines do not contain thimerosal, a mercury derivative used as a preservative. It may help to remember that getting the disease is much more risky than getting the vaccine. In addition to protecting the immunized child, vaccines protect the larger community by preventing and reducing the spread of infectious diseases.
Approximately one million children in the U.S. are not fully immunized by the age of two. Don't let your child be one of the them. For maximum protection, follow the recommended guidelines for childhood immunizations.
The North Shore Health Department has three immunization clinics every month:
Clinics at the Health Department: 2nd Tuesday from 10:00 - 11:00 AM; 3rd Wednesday from 3:30 -- 4:30 PM
Clinic at the North Shore Library: Last Tuesday from 4:00 -- 5:00 PM
There is no charge for children's vaccines as they are provided through the Vaccine for Children (VFC) program.
Also, please keep in mind that adolescents and adults need immunizations throughout life, too, many of which are available at the Health Department for a fee.
Check out these websites for more information on immunizations: