Vaccinations help protect all children
The Kansas City Star
As parents, we strive to provide a happy and healthy life for our children. Today we are able to do even more for our kids by protecting infants and children from 14 serious diseases through vaccination.
Although the United States has the safest, most effective vaccine supply in its history,some parents choose not to vaccinate their children. The impact of this choice goes well beyond their own child, creating a societal health problem for those they are exposed to at daycare, school, church, neighborhood parks, etc.
What few parents realize is that deciding not to vaccinate their child will affect others around them. In areas where vaccination rates are declining, this choice will increase the risk of vaccine-preventable illnesses to all children, including those who are vaccinated. The choice not to vaccinate will raise the risk of illness for the entire local population of children. Unfortunately, these diseases can result in significant sickness and even death.
The State of Missouri has comparatively low statewide immunization rates – just 67.9 percent according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control. One of the more vaccine-preventable diseases on the incline is whooping cough, also known as pertussis, a violent cough with a sometimes-fatal outcome. With more parents not vaccinating their children, the U.S. is on track to have the most reported whooping cough cases since 1959 – a staggering reality for a preventable disease that for years was not even heard of because of the effectiveness of vaccines.
For every 1,000 children born in Missouri, six to eight of those infants will not make it to their first birthday. April 20 through 27 is National Infant Immunization Week. Ensure your children and theirfriends are up to date on their vaccinations. To be effective, immunization is a shared responsibility and families, healthcare providers, schools and public health officials must collaborate to protect the entire community.
Our children depend on their parents and doctors to keep them healthy and safe. Let’s not let them down.
Sandra McKay is a pediatrician and treasurer and secretary of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Missouri Chapter.