Editor’s Note: This guest post is written by Ari Brown, M.D., FAAP, a Parents advisor and pediatrician in Austin, TX. She is the co-author of the best-sellling “411” parenting book series including Expecting 411: Clear Answers and Smart Advice for your Pregnancy, Baby 411, and Toddler 411. Here, she shares her new role as champion for the world-wide Shot@Life initiative.
As a pediatrician, and a spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics, I’ve been involved in children’s health initiatives in the U.S. for a long time. But this year, I’m going global! I’m excited to be a part of a new movement to help kids and I want to share it with you!
On April 26, 2012, the United Nations Foundation will roll out a new grassroots program cleverly titled, Shot@Life. The message: every child—no matter where they live—deserves a shot at leading a healthy, productive life.
American parents don’t usually have to worry about losing their children to diseases like measles, pneumonia, or even the worst case of diarrhea. That’s because most of our kids have access to and are able to receive life-saving vaccines. Unfortunately, 1 in 5 children worldwide don’t have that opportunity for protection. In fact, 1.7 million children will die this year from these diseases that are rare in the U.S., thanks to vaccination. Unfortunately, a child dies every 20 seconds.
I know, I know. We have so many economic issues at home, it is hard to think about the plight of children on the other side of the world. But honestly, protection against diseases there helps all of our kids. Germs don’t need a passport. They don’t have to take their shoes off in security or go through special body scanners to get on a plane to our hometowns. So, our own children will benefit from protecting children in other countries.
Earlier today, the United Nations Foundation announced Shot@Life, a campaign to expand access to vaccines for children in developing countries. “Every 20 seconds, a child dies from a disease that could have been prevented by a vaccine,” said Peg Willingham, Executive Director of Shot@Life.
The campaign hopes to teach Americans about the success of childhood vaccines as a cost-effective way to save lives and, in return, have them advocate for and donate vaccines to children in need.
Each year, 1.7 million children under the age of 5 die from vaccine-preventable diseases, according to the World Health Organization. But vaccines have already proven successful in drastically decreasing the number of deaths from measles and polio. Increased education about and accessibility to vaccines can save the lives of millions of more children.
As 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?