Monday, April 20, 2015

National Infant Immunization Week Underscores Importance of Vaccines

By Daniel Vijjeswarapu, MD 
Corpus Christi Pediatrician
President, Nueces County Medical Society

One of the best ways to protect our children is to make sure they have all their immunizations. Children under age 2 don’t have all the defenses they need to fight off infections, and vaccinations protect them from serious childhood diseases like whooping cough, measles, and bacterial meningitis. Nobody likes getting shots, but the pinch of a shot isn’t nearly as bad as those diseases. During National Infant Immunization Week, we urge parents to make sure your child’s vaccinations are up to date to protect against these preventable diseases that could cause your child to become very sick, even die.

As parents, we want to do what is best for our children to promote good health and help them reach their maximum potential. As an increasing number of parents are choosing to delay or even refuse immunizations for their children, pediatricians like me are concerned parents do not fully understand the potential dangers of not vaccinating their children, especially children under age 2.

Vaccines are among the most remarkable achievements in medicine during the past century. Today most young people in the United States have never seen a case of polio, thanks to vaccinations. When you don’t see a disease, understanding the benefits of prevention is difficult. So people have focused on the possible risk of infections and side effects. The increasing number of parents opting not to have their children vaccinated has led to more outbreaks of measles recently.

There has been a lot of talk in the media by some people attempting to link vaccines to autism, particularly the MMR vaccination (measles, mumps, rubella). Many studies have shown that autism is NOT associated with receiving vaccinations. MMR does not cause autism. While we still do not know exactly what does cause autism, it is likely many factors including genetics, environmental triggers, premature birth, and abnormal brain growth.

Evidence shows that children who have their immunization delayed because of alternate schedules are less likely to catch up or complete the vaccinations. There is no known benefit from delaying vaccination and no increased risk of receiving multiple vaccinations at one time. Vaccinations are needed to keep our children safe. Parents should ask questions and read the handouts provided by the physicians prior to vaccination. Parents need to know they are doing the right thing by immunizing their children. Please visit the following websites to learn more about vaccination during this week:

Daniel Vijjeswarapu, MD, is a pediatrician in Corpus Christi. He is president of the Nueces County Medical Society and a member of TMA’s Be Wise — ImmunizeSM physician advisory panel. 

Be Wise — Immunize is a service mark of the Texas Medical Association. 

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