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Immunization benefits outweight risks
Health advice
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Immunizations and vaccines have been hot topics with some parents refusing to get their children immunized because they believe autism may be a serious side effect.
Cases of childhood diseases — once believed to be gone because of the United States immunization program — are popping up, causing state and local officials to determine how children were exposed to the disease and who might have come in contact with the child.
Several diseases, such as measles, can be very serious. These diseases are easily spread and there is no treatment for most, so prevention is critical.
Most of us are not old enough to remember the suffering and premature deaths caused by childhood diseases. We see thousands of children in our communities alive and healthy so its very hard to imagine the high percentages that would have died of infectious diseases before vaccines — and most of them before they even turned 2.
Vaccines are among the most successful and cost-effective public health tools for preventing disease and death. And even though childhood immunization coverage in the U.S. is high for most vaccines, we still can’t take our successes for granted. Americans are citizens of the world with more than a million people a day crossing international borders, including ours. It would be nice if borders were also boundaries to disease, but they are not.
Immunization works by introducing a small amount of antigen into the body to create a memory in the body. The immune system learns to recognize this disease without the person actually becoming ill. Later, if that same immune system comes in contact with the disease, the body is prepared to fight the disease off.
If children are not protected and come in contact with one of these infections, they may get sick and experience complications which can include death.
In American, there are nearly one million children still not fully immunized. This puts them at risk for serious illness or even death. Immunization remains the best protection for our children’s health and for that of our country. Measles, whooping cough, diphtheria, rubella and polio, diseases that just a few years ago caused tremendous suffering and death still circulate at low levels in the U.S. and in many other parts of the world.
Each day, more than 11,000 U.S. babies are born who need to be immunized against 14 diseases before age 2. Immunizations must begin at birth and most should be completed by age 2.
It’s important for parents to understand that side effects can occur with vaccinations. When they do, they may include a slight fever and/or a rash or soreness at the site of the injection. Discomfort is normal and should no cause for alarm.
While serious reactions are rare, they do occur in isolated incidents. The risks, however, of serious disease from not vaccinating are greater than the risks of vaccination.
Keeping your infant safe and healthy is an important part of caring for your baby. By giving your child needed vaccinations on a timely basis, you can help your baby get a head start on a healthy future. For more information visit the AAP Web site,
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