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Vaccines save lives
Health advice
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This is National Infant Immunization Week and, like me, you may have seen and heard lot on the effectiveness and myths associated with immunizations.
Media have dedicated time to this topic to make sure children get a healthy start to life by following a schedule of immunizations to protect them against vaccine-preventable diseases.
On April 15, Dr. Isadore Rosenfeld (featured on Fox News Sunday Housecall) was asked his opinion and whether he believed thimerosal, (a preservative that contains mercury) caused autism. His reply was instant: “Immunizations have saved the lives of millions of children. Today, most people don’t remember when it was a common occurrence for polio and other childhood diseases to kill or maim so many of our young.”
He noted results from studies on vaccines and thimerosal indicating neither vaccines containing thimerosal or MMR vaccine are associated with autism.
“Autism, a very complex disorder, is becoming more common than it used to be with one out of every 150 children afflicted ... Today, with the exception of some flu vaccines, none of the vaccines used in the U.S. to protect preschool children against infectious diseases contain thimerosal as a preservative but autism continues to increase.
“We are more aware of the disease today and so more children are appropriately diagnosed.”
Few of us are old enough to remember the suffering and premature deaths caused by childhood diseases Dr. Rosenfeld talked about.
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 the highest ever recorded for most vaccines, we still can’t take it for granted.
Other countries haven’t had the same successes reducing or eliminating infectious and communicable diseases, so we must be prepared and protected when those diseases visit us or we meet them visiting others.
In America, there are nearly one million children still not fully immunized. This puts them at risk.  Measles, whooping cough, diphtheria, rubella and polio — diseases that just a few years ago caused tremendous suffering — still circulate at low levels in the U.S. and many other parts of the world. These diseases can return with devastating consequences if we allow immunization rates to fall.
Each day, 11,000 U.S. babies are born who need to be immunized against 14 diseases before age 2. Despite recent gains in childhood immunization coverage, more than 20 percent of the nation’s 2-year-olds are still missing one or more of the recommended immunizations. Immunizations must begin at birth and most should be completed by age 2. It is critical that toddlers be protected because children under age 5 are especially susceptible. Their immune systems have not built up the defenses to fight infection.
Side effects can occur with vaccines. When they do, they may include a slight fever and/or a rash or soreness at the site of the injection. Slight discomfort is normal and should not be a cause for alarm.
Healthcare agencies will provide instructions on how to deal with the side effects. It’s often possible to minimize your child’s discomfort by following the steps provided before your child starts exhibiting signs of discomfort.
While serious reactions to vaccines are extremely rare, they do occur in isolated incidents. The risks, however, of serious disease from not vaccinating are far greater than the risks of serious reaction to the vaccination.

Ratcliffe works with the Coastal District Health Department.
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