Vaccinating infants vital for disease protection
National Infant Immunization Week is April 21-28
For Hub City Times
MARSHFIELD – Parents know that maintaining a consistent feeding and sleeping schedule for their infant is important to keep their child healthy. Keeping childhood immunizations on schedule is equally important.
Vaccinating children on time is the best way to protect them against 14 serious and potentially deadly diseases before their second birthday.
National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW), April 21-28, is an annual observance to highlight the importance of protecting infants from vaccine-preventable diseases and to celebrate the achievements of immunization programs in promoting healthy communities throughout the United States.
“The recommended immunization schedule is designed to offer protection early in life,” said Dr. Edna DeVries, a Marshfield Clinic pediatrician. “That’s when babies are vulnerable and before it’s likely they’ll be exposed to diseases.”
Public health and medical experts base their vaccine recommendations on many factors. They study information about diseases and vaccines very carefully to decide which vaccines kids should get and when they should get them for best protection.
Although the number of vaccines a child needs in the first two years may seem like a lot, doctors know a great deal about the human immune system. A healthy baby’s immune system can handle getting all vaccines when they are recommended.
“There is no known benefit to delaying vaccination,” DeVries said. “In fact, it puts babies at risk of getting sick because they’re left vulnerable to catch serious diseases during the time they’re not protected by vaccines.”
When parents choose not to vaccinate, or to follow a delayed schedule, children are left unprotected against viruses and diseases that still circulate in this country, including measles and rotavirus.
The United States experienced a record number of measles cases during 2014, with 667 cases from 27 states reported, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This is the largest number of cases in the U.S. since measles was eliminated in 2000. The majority of people who got measles were not vaccinated, according to the CDC.
Rotavirus is a virus that spreads easily among infants and young children. The virus can cause severe watery diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and abdominal pain. Children who get rotavirus disease can become dehydrated and may need to be hospitalized.
Staying on track with the immunization schedule ensures that children have the best protection against diseases like these by age two.
If you have questions about the childhood immunization schedule, talk with your child’s doctor or nurse. For more information about vaccines, go to www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents.