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August is National Immunization Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness about the importance of vaccinations in preventing serious diseases and more specifically, helping to protect your family.

1. Vaccines Are Important  

Before vaccines, each year in the United States:

  • Roughly 10,000 children became paralyzed by Polio,
  • Rubella (German measles) caused birth defects and mental retardation in as many as 20,000 newborns,
  • Measles infected about 4 million children,
  • Diphtheria was one of the most common causes of death in school-aged children,
  • Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) caused meningitis in 15,000 children, leaving many with permanent brain damage, and 
  • Pertussis (whooping cough) killed roughly 8,000 infants.     

2. Even If Diseases Are Going Away, You Still Need to Vaccinate

Although vaccines are very effective, we have started to see a resurgence of certain diseases. Within the past two years, there have been outbreaks in the United States of measles, whooping cough, mumps, meningococcal meningitis, and chickenpox. Polio, rubella, and other vaccine preventable diseases still exist in other countries. (Garrett, 2017)

In 2017, international travel is not unusual. It only takes one infected person to start the cycle here at home. Also, vaccinating adults can help protect infants in the community who may be too young to receive certain immunizations. Newborns are especially susceptible to being exposed to influenza or whooping cough from their caregivers or relatives.

3. Don't Be Concerned About Too Many Vaccines at Once 

Starting from the birth, babies are exposed to millions of bacteria through their mother’s birth canal. Even the air that we breathe (or food we eat) can contain viral particles or bacteria. Your immune system is constantly making antibodies to exposures from the environment. This number far outweighs the number of antigens that are found in a set of routine vaccinations. Following an alternate vaccine schedule (or spacing shots out) only puts you at risk for longer periods and is not recommended. 

To view the recommended vaccinations schedule, please visit www.midlandhealth.org/vaccinations.

4. Side Effects Are Generally Mild

In general, vaccines are very well tolerated. Most side effects are mild and can include fever, soreness, or redness at the injection site. Conversely, the diseases that vaccines protect you from can be deadly or debilitating. Serious side effects are rare and your clinician is trained on how to handle them. Vaccines, as with all products regulated by Food and Drug Administration, undergo a rigorous review of laboratory and clinical data to ensure the safety, efficacy, purity and potency of these products. (U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 2016)

5. Your Doctor Is the Best Source of Information  

Do not hesitate to talk to your healthcare provider. They will be a reliable source of vaccine information and are a wealth of knowledge. Keep in mind there is a lot of material on the internet and not all of it is accurate, studied, or from a medical source. It is also a good idea to keep up with routine well child exams, which is a great opportunity to catch up on any missing immunizations and discuss general health concerns.

This information provided by our expert Lori Benninghoff, Physician Assistant at Wall Street Pediatrics.

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