You’ve probably heard a lot in the news lately regarding immunizations. Some of the information comes from credible, expert medical sources. Other comes from people with no credentials other than their status as a celebrity. In recent years, there’s been a resurgence of pertussis (whooping cough) and other childhood diseases. Yet, some still say that vaccines are harmful. So are immunizations good or bad for your kids? Are they important or not?
The answer is that immunizations are critical, not just for your child, but for society as a whole. Here are some very good reasons why.
Immunizations Help Protect the Unprotected
Most children aren’t able to start receiving vaccines until the age of two months, with the exception of hepatitis B. So why aren’t all infants and newborns sick? For one, babies do receive some natural immunities from their mothers, but these dissipate over time. Also, babies that are fed breast milk will receive some immune boosters that way.
But the other answer is herd immunity. Simply put, herd immunity is the prevention of disease transmission through the immunity of most of the members in a group. So a newborn that hasn’t yet received a measles vaccine is protected because most of the people around him or her are vaccinated against measles, and therefore can’t spread the disease.
Herd immunity also protects people other than the very young. Some people cannot receive vaccines due to allergies or a compromised immune system. For example, many leukemia patients have weakened immune systems and can’t get certain vaccines.
Of course, when a significant proportion of the population is no longer vaccinated against a disease, almost always by choice, herd immunity breaks down. That’s when tragic cases of unnecessary illnesses and deaths in children occur.
Immunizations Prevent the Resurgence of Disease
Many decades ago, polio was a scourge in the United States. People lived in fear of this disease, and many children died or were permanently disabled due to its ravages. Until Jonas Salk formulated a vaccine, entire hospital wards of iron lungs were a common sight. By many estimates, Dr. Salk was responsible for saving more lives than any other person in history.
Unfortunately, polio and many other diseases still exist in other parts of the world. Although they’ve been eradicated in the U.S., this doesn’t mean they’re gone for good. Maintaining immunizations ensures that these diseases don’t reappear among our population and cause death and disfigurement.
Immunizations Prevent Pain and Suffering
Making sure that your children are immunized at your pediatric clinic on schedule can save them much future pain and suffering. Most adults today had chickenpox at some point in their childhood. However, their children can be spared the itchy sores and missed school days that their parents had to suffer through, all due to the chickenpox vaccine.
Of course, immunizations protect against diseases far more serious than chickenpox. Current vaccines can even help to prevent cervical cancer in women. Having your child vaccinated at their pediatric clinic helps ensure not only their current wellness but their future health as well.