Q & A: The Importance of Immunizations

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Immunizations

Measles, whooping cough, German measles (rubella), and mumps were once thought to be diseases of the past. However, recent measles outbreaks and reported cases in 19 states highlight the continued importance of childhood immunizations.

In the year 2000 it was thought measles was eliminated in the U.S. But since 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported an increase in measles cases. Just this year alone, 764 cases of measles have been reported from January 1 – May 3, 2019.

Vanessa Slots, M.D., a pediatrician at Renown Medical Group, offers insight on the importance of immunizations.

Why are immunizations important?

Immunizations save the lives of thousands of children and adults annually. They protect us from illnesses that can lead to cancer, hospital stays, life-long complications and even death. Not only do immunizations protect the persons getting the vaccine, but through herd immunity, vaccines protect children that are unable to get vaccines due to illness or age as well as our elderly community members where immunity may have waned.

What immunizations does my child need during the first year?

Children get their first vaccine at birth (Hepatitis B). They also get vaccines/boosters for Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis (Tdap), Polio, Haemophilus Influenza (HiB), Pneumonia, Hepatitis B and Rotavirus at 2, 4 and 6 months.

At 1 year of age, children are able to receive their first dose of the MMR and Varicella (chicken pox) vaccine as well as boosters for Hepatitis A, HiB and pneumonia. They receive their 4th Tdap at 15 months and their second Hepatitis A at 18 months.

At 4 years of age, children receive their final dose of MMRV, Tdap and Polio.

Prior to starting middle school, children receive their Tdap and Meningitis vaccines/boosters. They are also old enough to start the HPV vaccine, which is an important vaccine for all our young men and women to protect against cancer.

For more information refer to the CDC recommended child and adolescent immunization schedule.

Any tips on preparing my baby or toddler for an immunization?

Many parents worry about side effects like pain and fever for their children after getting immunizations. Studies have shown that giving Tylenol prior to vaccines can decrease their effectiveness. Based off of those studies, we recommend that parents/care givers wait until after vaccines before giving Tylenol or Ibuprofen, and ideally giving only if symptoms develop.

RELATED: Pediatric Care: Top Tips for Choosing a Pediatrician

Do vaccinations wear off?

Many vaccines do provide life-long immunity while others do wear off over time. We give our vaccines to children when they are at most risk for contracting the diseases as well as when they are at the highest risk of severe complications. So even if immunity wanes over time, it is important to still give all vaccines on time to protect children during these highest risk time frames.

Anything to add?

Vaccines are incredibly safe and effective. They are studied and monitored more than any other medication before they are approved to be administered. Study after study has proven that vaccines do not cause autism or any other neurological side effects.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation available on the internet and social media websites that can be confusing to parents. If you have questions about vaccines, please speak with your medical provider.

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