Immunization: power to protect

Parents want to do everything possible to make sure their children are healthy. No parent wants to see their child suffer from illness. One of the most important ways to fully protect infants from vaccine-preventable diseases, like measles and whooping cough, is through immunization.

Did you know giving babies the recommended immunizations by age two is the best way to protect them from 14 serious childhood diseases? Because their immune systems are not fully developed, infants are particularly vulnerable to infectious diseases. That is why it is so important for babies to receive the recommended vaccinations on time.

The week of April 24 is National Infant Immunization Week, an annual observance to promote the benefits of immunization and to improve the health of children age two and younger. Vaccine preventable diseases, such as measles, mumps, and whooping cough, are still a threat. They continue to infect children, resulting in hospitalizations and deaths every year.

It is important for parents to know that for the safety of all newborns, Hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for a child to receive at birth, before he leaves the hospital. The birth dose prevents 70 to 95 percent of transmission to infants born to Hepatitis B positive women. It also prevents household transmission by protecting infants from infected family members and other caregivers.

Measles is a disease that all children should be vaccinated against at age one. Recent outbreaks in states across the country show us how quickly the disease can spread and affect entire communities.

Outbreaks of preventable diseases occur when many parents decide not to vaccinate their children. If children are not vaccinated, they can not only get the disease, but spread measles to other children who are too young to be vaccinated or to people with weakened immune systems, such as people with cancer or transplant recipients. Vaccinations protect others you care about, including family members and friends.

We live in a day and age when immunization is extremely safe. Vaccines are thoroughly tested before being approved for public use and monitored carefully by doctors, researchers and public health officials. Vaccines are among the most successful ways 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.

Immunization is one of the best ways parents can protect their children against serious diseases. Talk to your child’s doctor to ensure that your child is up-to- date on immunizations. Don’t forget to make and keep those appointments for needed immunizations. Madison County Health Department offers low or no-cost immunizations to people of all ages. Call 315-366- 2848 today or visit healthymadisoncounty.org for an appointment.

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