Recognizing and Celebrating National Infant Immunization Week

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If you are running behind with scheduling doctor’s appointments for your baby, or if you have been on the fence about having your infant vaccinated, you are not alone. April 27th – May 4th is National Infant Immunization Week. Take this week to learn the science behind vaccines, what they mean for your child’s future, and their crucial role in keeping our society healthy.

Recognizing Vaccination Milestones

Although people have been studying diseases and immunizations throughout history, Edward Jenner’s 1796 smallpox vaccine (made from cowpox material) is typically thought of as the beginning of modern vaccination. This vaccine eventually eradicated smallpox from the United States and because of that, in 1972 the smallpox vaccine was no longer deemed necessary. By the early 20th century, the vaccines for Diphtheria, Pertussis, and Tetanus had also been developed and were being administered; these vaccines are still recommended today. In 1955 the vaccine for Polio, a common yet debilitating illness, was developed. This vaccine saved thousands of lives. In the 1960’s, the vaccines for Measles, Mumps, and Rubella followed. In the 1980’s, the vaccines for Hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenzae type b were also developed. Eventually, the vaccines for the Chickenpox and Influenza were introduced and recommended, saving thousands of children from unnecessary illness each year.

Vaccines have been one of modern society’s solutions to illness. They make diseases that once disabled and killed children completely preventable. The CDC currently recommends immunization against 14 vaccine-preventable illnesses for infants, including these listed below.

Some of the Dangers of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases

Polio: Polio has been eliminated in the United States via the Polio vaccine, but there are other countries that do not vaccinate for Polio. A Polio outbreak could happen in the United States again, if an infected person visited and came into contact with an unvaccinated person. Polio is a virus causing paralysis of varying parts of the body, resulting in permanent damage and disability. Polio can also result in death, as the paralysis can affect the muscles controlling breathing.

Measles: Measles is a highly contagious airborne virus. The Measles infections starts with cold-like symptoms, followed by a rash, and leading to more serious conditions like croup, diarrhea, ear infection, pneumonia, and encephalitis. The modern measles vaccine is included with vaccines for Mumps and Rubella in a combination called MMR. Mumps and Rubella are also dangerous conditions that can lead to serious complications later in life.

Tetanus: The Tetanus vaccine in the US is administered with vaccines for Diphtheria and Pertussis (also known as whooping cough), in a combination known as DTaP. Tetanus, is a bacteria present in soil, and can infect an open wound, no matter the size. Tetanus causes painful muscle stiffness, lockjaw, and is fatal if left untreated, or caught too late. The Tetanus booster is also recommended for adults every 10 years, as Tetanus can affect anyone.

Hepatitis B: Hepatitis B is a virus that causes liver disease. Your infant’s Hepatitis B vaccine should be administered before you leave the hospital with your baby for the first time. Hepatitis B is spread through bodily fluids, it is frequently transmitted from unaware mothers to their babies. Having your child vaccinated for Hepatitis B is crucial as more than 780,000 people die each year from Hepatitis B complications.

Hib: Thanks to vaccines, Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b) is relatively unknown in modern society. Before the vaccine for Hib was developed, over 20,000 children a year suffered from the disease. Usually striking children under five, Hib can cause other infections like meningitis and pneumonia, damaging the immune system, causing brain damage and hearing loss, and even resulting in death.

Why You Should Have Your Child Vaccinated

It is important for the health of your child. You never know what your children will be exposed to. We often think many diseases are eradicated, when they are not – they are simply less common because most people have received immunizations. If your child remains unvaccinated, coming into contact with one ill and unvaccinated person could cause them to become seriously ill. The initial pinch of receiving a shot is immeasurably less painful than a fight with a possibly fatal illness later on.

It is important for the health of your community. There are some children who are too young to receive certain vaccinations and others who are medically unable to be vaccinated. The latter typically have another illness that has compromised their immune system, making it impossible to handle the small amount of active virus in a minimal number of vaccines. The wellness of these children relies on the immunization of the people around them, also called “herd immunity.” If your child’s immune system has not been compromised, it is important to have them vaccinated to protect the children around them who may not be as fortunate.

Recommended Vaccination Schedule

The CDC recommends vaccinations at birth and months 1,2,4,6,9,12, and 15. Depending on your child’s age and how you and your doctor decide to proceed. The amount of vaccines administered at each visit varies. Talk to your doctor about questions you may have about the vaccination schedule; they are often willing to work with you to accommodate your child.

If your child misses a dose of a vaccine, you do not need to start the process over. Take care of any missed vaccinations at your child’s next visit.

Want more information about vaccinating your children or to make an appointment? The team at Capital Women’s Care can help. Reach out via phone or our website!

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The providers of Capital Women's Care seek the highest quality medical and ethical standard in an environment that nurtures the spirit of caring for every woman.

 

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