August Is National Immunization Awareness Month

vaccinations-needles-shotsAs your child heads to school, make an appointment with the pediatrician to have her receive the necessary immunizations required by your state.  Vaccines guard your child against illnesses and diseases that may be encountered outside the home.   Parents.com consulted Dr. Daniel McGee of Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, MI to find out what parents should know about immunizations.

Why are immunizations and vaccinations necessary and still important?

The illnesses that are included in the vaccines are real, not just something that occurred in grandma’s day.  According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there have been more 150 cases of measles in the United States this year, as well as thousands of cases of whooping cough.  Measles outbreaks are occurring more frequently than in previous years. 

What are some diseases easily preventable by vaccinations?  How effective are  vaccinations against these diseases?

Measles, chicken pox, whooping cough as well as certain types of pneumonia and meningitis are the most common vaccine preventable diseases.  Immunized children who come down with an illness will usually have a less severe sickness.

Are there any vaccinations parents or adults should get to protect their family?

The only way to prevent whooping cough in children, particularly those under six months of age, is to make sure everyone who will come in contact with them is immunized.  This is a concept known as “cocooning.”  In fact, 75 percent of the time when an infant comes down with whooping cough, it comes from a parent, sibling, or grandparent.

As kids head to school, are there any new immunization protocols?  What should parents be aware of?

Immunization schedules change each year. Although not a new shot, there is a new recommendation that adolescents receive a booster dose of the meningitis vaccine if they received their first dose before age 16.  Every person aged 6 months and up should also receive the flu vaccine. 

What are the vaccinations all schools require?  What are the vaccinations children should always get?

This varies from state to state.  The best thing to do is follow the Centers for Disease Control guidelines which are endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians. With the exception of the HPV vaccine, almost all of the shots recommended by the AAP are required for school.

More About Immunizations and Vaccinations

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