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Immunizations: Know the Facts
Information provided by the Centers for Disease Control
If you are a new parent or about to become a parent, one of the most important things you need to do is familiarize yourself with the immunizations your child will need. Keeping your child up to date on her immunizations is very important, not only for her health but for the health of everyone around her. Immunization gives you the power to protect your baby from 14 serious childhood diseases. As a parent, it is your job to sift through rumors and falsehoods and learn the facts.
Serious Disease Still Exists
Reducing and eliminating the diseases that vaccines prevent is one of the top achievements in the history of public health. But, because of this success, most young parents have never seen the devastating effects that diseases like polio, measles or whooping cough (pertussis) can have on a family or community. It's easy to think of these as diseases that only existed in the past. But the truth is they still exist. Children in the United States can – and do – still get some of these diseases. In fact, when vaccination rates drop in a community, it's not uncommon to have an outbreak.
For example, preliminary data for 2012 show that more than 41,000 cases of whooping cough were reported in the United States. During this time, 18 deaths have been reported – the majority of these deaths were in children younger than 3 months of age.
In addition, parents need to know that serious diseases that are no longer present in the US can still exist in other countries. All it takes is a plane ride for an infected person to bring that disease to your community.
US Vaccines are Safe and Effective
The United States currently has the safest, most effective vaccine supply in its history. Before a vaccine is approved and given to children, it is tested extensively. As new information and science become available, vaccine recommendations are updated.
Although there may be some discomfort or tenderness at the injection site, this is minor compared to the serious complications that can result from the diseases these vaccines prevent. Serious side effects from vaccines are very rare.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) sets the U.S. childhood immunization schedule based on recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) – a group of medical and public health experts. This schedule also is approved by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). The recommended childhood immunization schedule is designed to protect infants and children early in life, when they are most vulnerable.
Vaccines Protect Everyone
Getting your child vaccinated helps protect others in your community – like your neighbor who has cancer and cannot get certain vaccines, or your best friend's newborn baby who is too young to be fully vaccinated. When everyone in a community who can get vaccinated does get vaccinated, it helps to prevent the spread of disease and can slow or stop an outbreak. Choosing to protect your child with vaccines is also a choice to help protect your family, friends, and neighbors, too.
For more reasons to vaccinate, talk with your child's doctor, call 800-CDC-INFO, or visit www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/.
If you are thinking about having a baby, mark your calendar for Baby Steps!