Immunizations can prevent diseases, such as chickenpox and measles, in children. Dr. Jennifer Arnold, neonatologist, pediatrician and a star of the television show The Little Couple, talked with me about the importance of childhood vaccines. The following information is based on her responses.
Why should I immunize?
Immunizations help to prevent the sometimes devastating consequences of preventable diseases. There are 14 serious childhood diseases every child is vulnerable to before the age of 2. Dr. Arnold says as a pediatrician, she sees the devastating consequences of these diseases and speaks out about the importance of vaccinations, hoping all children receive immunizations to prevent needlessly suffering.
Is there an advantage to allowing a child to become naturally immunized for some illnesses, such as chickenpox?
While chickenpox is not considered a life-threatening illness, it can sometimes be fatal. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that between 100 to 150 children die each year from chickenpox. Vaccinations can prevent serious health consequences from chickenpox and other childhood diseases.
Having your child immunized may take away the risk of having your child become seriously ill. In addition, there are some children, because of their young age or other health conditions, who can’t get immunized. When you don’t vaccinate your children, you put these children at risk.
Why is following the recommended schedule important?
As babies grow, their immune system is developing. Just as you watch your child reach different milestones -- smiling, rolling over, and crawling -- the immune development process also has different stages. Research gives us a timetable of when vaccinations are most effective based on the development of the immune system. The CDC provides a schedule for immunizations your child should receive in the first four years of life.
What should I do if I miss an appointment or an immunization?
First, according to Dr. Arnold, “don’t stress.” As soon as you realize you have missed an immunization for your child, call to make an appointment with your pediatrician. Together you can make a plan to catch up with the vaccinations. The CDC provides a catch-up schedule you can follow.
Will my child receive the scheduled immunization if he is sick the day of his appointment?
There isn’t a blanket answer to this question, however, Dr. Arnold recommends you keep your doctor’s appointment. For mild illnesses, your pediatrician will often decide there isn’t a reason to delay.
Are there risks associated with vaccines?
The biggest risk, according to Dr. Arnold, is your child might experience some pain at the site of the injection. She says vigorous research has shown vaccines to be safe for children.
Should immunizations be mandatory?
While Dr. Arnold hopes that all children who can be immunized are, she says this is a discussion each parent needs to have with a pediatrician. There are requirements in many areas of the country that will exclude a school-age child from attending a public school without immunizations, as long as there isn’t a medical reason the child cannot receive the vaccine.
At what age do immunizations end?
Immunizations can continue throughout life. There are a number of vaccines that adults should receive, such as for influenza and pneumonia. This is something that each person should talk to a doctor about during regular office visits. The CDC provides a schedule of recommended immunizations for adults.
What can I do to encourage others to have their child immunized?
When your child receives an immunization, share that information with others on social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter. Babyvaxfacts.com has a sticker you can add to your profile.
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Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of Idiot's Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot's Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love and Essential Guide to Asperger's Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.