|Immunization saves lives|
|Friday, 27 April 2012 10:40|
Around the world this week is commemorated as National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW), highlighting the importance of protecting infants from vaccine-preventable diseases and celebrating the achievements of immunization programs in promoting healthy communities.
Through this increased awareness of infant immunization, infant death and disability have been significantly reduced in the U.S. Thanks to immunization, infants and children are now protected from 14 vaccine-preventable diseases before age two, and many childhood diseases that were once rampant have become a rarity. In September 2011, the Centers of Disease Control (CDC) announced that childhood immunization rates for vaccines routinely recommended for children remain at or near record highs.
Without diligent efforts to maintain immunization programs globally however, vaccine-preventable diseases will remain a threat to children.
Five reasons to vaccinate children
Immunizations can save a child's life: Because of advances in medical science, children can be protected against more diseases than ever before. Some diseases that once injured or killed thousands of children have been either eliminated or driven close to extinction– primarily due to safe and effective vaccines. One such disease is polio. Once one of the most feared diseases in the U.S. (the same disease which plagued popular U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt), polio has nearly been eradicated.
Vaccination is very safe and effective: Vaccines are only given to children after a long and careful review by scientists, doctors, and healthcare professionals. Vaccines will involve some discomfort and may cause pain, redness, or tenderness at the site of injection. These symptoms however are minimal compared to the ill-effects of the many diseases these vaccines prevent. Serious side effects following vaccination, such as severe allergic reactions, are very rare.
Immunization protects others you care about: Children in the U.S. still get vaccine-preventable diseases. In fact, there has been a resurgence of measles and whooping cough over the past few years. In 2010 the U.S. had over 21,000 cases of whooping cough reported and 26 deaths, mostly in children younger than six months. These are also diseases that are particularly infectious and, without vaccination, they would cause highly dangerous breakouts among children in schools. To help keep these children safe, it is important that you and your children who are able to get vaccinated are fully immunized.
Immunizations can save your family time and money: A child with a vaccine-preventable disease can be denied attendance at schools or child care facilities. Some vaccine-preventable diseases can result in prolonged disabilities and can take a financial toll because of lost time at work, medical bills or long-term disability care. In contrast, getting vaccinated is a good investment and is usually covered by insurance.
Immunization protects future generations: Vaccines have reduced and, in some cases, eliminated many diseases, like smallpox and rubella (German measles) that killed or severely disabled people a few generations ago. Smallpox vaccination eradicated that disease worldwide. Vaccinating children against rubella has also reduced the risk of pregnant women passing this virus on to their fetus or newborn. Birth defects associated with that virus are no longer seen in the U.S.
Continued and completed vaccination schedules ensure parents in the future may be able to trust that some of the diseases of today will no longer be around to harm their children.
For more information, visit http://www.vaccines.gov/who_and_when for vaccination schedules for infants and young children.