Public Health Column: Vaccinating on time is important for disease protection
From the Genesee County Health Department:
Parents and guardians make decisions daily that impact their children’s health and deciding whether or not to vaccinate your little one(s) is one of the most important decisions you will make. In the spirit of National Infant Immunization Week (April 22 – 29), let’s take time to learn how to keep your children best protected against vaccine preventable diseases.
Vaccines are among the most successful and cost-effective public health tools available for preventing disease and death. They not only help protect vaccinated individuals, but also help protect entire communities by preventing and reducing the spread of infectious diseases.
A child’s first vaccination is scheduled to be given before they even leave the hospital after being born.
“There are recommended immunization schedules for children, adolescents and adults. Schedules for children are designed to offer protection early in life, decreasing the chances a child could become ill and possibly experience complications from a preventable disease,” said Laura Paolucci, administrator, for Wyoming County Health Department.
Vaccinating children on time is the best way to protect them against 14 serious and potentially deadly diseases before their second birthday. Vaccines are only given to children after careful review by scientists, doctors, and healthcare professionals. Vaccine side effects are almost always mild such as redness or swelling at the site of the shot, but this is minimal compared to the pain, discomfort, and risk of injury and death from the diseases these vaccines prevent. Serious side effects following vaccination, such as severe allergic reaction, are very rare.
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, and they know that a healthy baby’s immune system can handle getting all vaccines when they are recommended.
“When parents choose not to vaccinate or to follow a delayed schedule, children are left unprotected against diseases that still circulate in this country, like measles and whooping cough," said Brenden Bedard, director of Community Health Services, for Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments. “There is no known benefit to delaying vaccination. In fact, it puts babies at risk of getting sick because they are left vulnerable to catch serious diseases during the time they are not protected by vaccines."
Parents who are concerned about the number of shots given at one time can reduce the number given at a visit by using the flexibility built into the recommended immunization schedule. For example, the third dose of Hepatitis B vaccine can be given at 6 - 18 months of age. Parents can work with their child’s health care professional to have their child get this dose at any time during that age range.
For more information on vaccine schedules, visit https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/index.html.
If you do not have a primary care provider your local Health Department may be able to assist in providing needed vaccines. This service is available for individuals who have no health insurance, public insurance, and some private insurance.
For information about Health Department services contact:
- Genesee County Health Department at: 344-2580, ext. 5555, or visit their website at www.co.genesee.ny.us/departments/health/index.html
- Orleans County Health Department at: 589-3278, or check out our website at:www.orleansny.com/publichealth
- Wyoming County Health Department at: 786-8890, or visit their website at www.wyomingco.net/health/main.html