“Drops in immunization rates could undo the nation’s great progress toward eliminating preventable diseases that are coming back to sicken, disable and kill children,” says the president of the American Medical Association in April 2019.
“It’s sad, but many diseases that we thought were gone – thanks to immunizations – are coming back,” says McLeod Pediatrician Dr. Jude Thomas. “And the vaccine not only keeps the person receiving it from becoming ill but also protects family, neighbors and classmates from being exposed to a disease.”
WHO DECIDES WHEN TO IMMUNIZE
A group called the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice (ACIP) reviews the data on new and existing vaccines. ACIP — which includes doctors, scientists, vaccine experts and public health officials – meets several times a year to:
Their final recommendations include what ages children should receive the vaccines, how much and how many doses. They also determine precautions and who should avoid particular vaccines.
The schedules are then reviewed and approved by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Here’s a quick overview of the recommended immunization schedule for youth from birth to age 6:
• CHICKEN POX triggers a fever and itchy blisters. Children need 2 chickenpox shots — one at 12-15 months and another between 4-6 years.
• DIPHTHERIA creates a thick covering in the nose and throat that makes it difficult to swallow and breathe, leading to heart failure, paralysis and, possibly, death. Five doses of the so-called DTaP vaccine (short for Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis) is recommended at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15-18 months and 4-6 years. DTaP also projects again TETANUS– a painful and possibly fatal muscle stiffness – and PERTUSSIS, also known as Whooping Cough, characterized by uncontrollable, violent coughing.
• FLU evolves and comes in a varying form almost every year. Symptoms affected people differently and can include fever, aches, cough, fatigue, vomiting and diarrhea. It’s recommended that, starting at 6 months of ag, children receive annual doses of flu vaccines.
• MEASLES can be spread by just being in a room with a person with measles – even up to 2 hours after they leave the room. Unvaccinated people who travel to this county can bring it with them. Two doses of the MMR vaccine is recommended – one between 12-15 months and a second 4-6 years. MMR is another multiple disease vaccine, standing for Measles, Mumps and Rubella. MUMPS causes a swollen face and cheeks, resulting in fever, muscle aches and fatigue. There is no treatment. With RUBELLA comes coughing and sneezing. Its greatest danger is to pregnant women and may cause a miscarriage or birth defects.
• POLIO can be a crippling and potentially infectious disease. Children were kept from swimming and summers were fraught with parents’ anxiety before the polio vaccine was developed. Children should receive doses at 2 months, 4 months, 6-18 months and 4-6 years.
Other important immunizations protect against Hepatitis A & B, pneumonia, and rotavirus, which can cause diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain.
ACTION YOU CAN TAKE
Talk to your pediatrician or family physician about the immunizations recommended for your child. As a guide, this link takes you to a chart for vaccines.
Find a Pediatrician near you.
Sources include: McLeod Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Association, US Department of Health & Human Services