Stay on Schedule: Why Immunizations are as Important as Ever

To immunize your child or not isn’t the question. Rather, it’s more a question of what vaccines to give and when. Vaccinations are necessary for the simple reason that they work to protect our children against a host of deadly diseases we rarely encounter in the developed world. This is a result of following a recommended immunization schedule, because specific diseases typically happen at certain times in a child’s life. With all our daily stresses and concerns, once prevalent diseases such as measles and mumps shouldn’t need to make the list of our parental concerns. Immunizations truly are our first-line of defense. We can all agree that we want to give our children the best chance for a healthy life, and recommended vaccinations are a major step in the right direction.

Why We Immunize

While it is possible to successfully treat many childhood illnesses and diseases, it’s far better if we prevent disease before allowing it to spread. Many would argue that the discovery of vaccines was the single most important milestone in the history of medicine. With the advent of vaccines against bacteria like Haemophilus influenzae type B (HiB) and Pneumococcus, gone are the days of highly contagious and deadly diseases like meningitis. Ask Dr. Andy or Dr. Dan what it was like to see children with these diseases; 25 years ago they were commonplace in our pediatric offices as were the spinal taps necessary for their diagnosis. Prior to the advent of HiB vaccine in the early 1990s, nearly 1,500 infants and toddlers died each year from invasive HiB infections; now the incidence of such infections is 1.3 illnesses per 100,000 kids. Or consider polio: the last case of polio originating in the United States was back in 1979, and only several hundred cases exist in the world today. Ask your grandparents how many people they knew inflicted with polio back in the 1940s and 50s. These days, those experiences are relegated to stories told by our grandparents back in the day, and that’s where they should stay.

What if You Can’t Immunize

Some children with certain conditions such as cancer, immune system deficiencies, or severe life-threatening allergies to components of vaccines cannot have their full roster of immunizations. However, these children can be protected from getting these diseases despite not getting all vaccinations if the rest of us all get vaccinated, including our healthy children. This phenomenon is known as herd immunity. If most children get fully vaccinated, it not only protects them but serves to protect future generations by keeping disease levels almost non-existent. So, if you can immunize, we always recommend that you do.

Vaccines for Children are the Best Insurance

You probably have never heard of anyone contracting smallpox recently, right? Exactly! Smallpox was eradicated from earth in 1977 and we no longer need to vaccinate against it as a preventative measure. Prior to its eradication, estimates of the number of lives lost to smallpox in the 20th century alone were between 300-500 million people. What about other diseases we continue to vaccinate for, such as whooping cough and measles…why must we still immunize to protect against these infections? The answer is simple: despite disease levels being greatly reduced, these diseases have not been eradicated. If we were to stop vaccinations now, instances of these diseases would increase dramatically.  Vaccinations are essential to world health and they are the best way to keep diseases at bay.

But My Child Doesn’t Like Shots. Can’t We Wait?

No one likes getting poked, children and parents alike! Like you, I’m a parent and I never want to cause my girls any pain. But in the end, a few brief moments of discomfort will have the benefit of offering your child a long, healthy, and active life. The immunization schedule is designed to provide optimum coverage for your child’s future health. The multi-year vaccine schedule addresses the most prevalent and harmful diseases children encounter at various stages of life. While it may seem like a heavy schedule prior to entering elementary school, the goal is to protect at school…at home…outside, literally everywhere! No waiting required.

Have Questions? We’ve Got Answers.

If you have questions about specific vaccines, or immunizations in general, please ask! We’re here to work with you as long-term partners in your child’s care, and we’re happy to take the time to make certain you feel comfortable every step of the way. No one ever said parenting was easy, but when we work together as a team, all our children benefit. Get your child off to a good start in life and follow our recommended vaccine schedule. The result will be more time to enjoy all those things you love doing with your children, like playing outside and maybe even hiking a few of our local peaks. I’ll keep my eyes open for you.

Dr. Nick Krebs is a pediatrician in Centennial, Colorado at Greenwood Pediatrics. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his family and challenging some of the other doctors with his fantasy football finesse.

Posted: 7/19/2017 10:45:29 AM | with 0 comments
Filed under: diseases, Immunizations, prevents, shots, vaccines

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