National Infant Immunization Week
Posted on April 19, 2018 by CHS
To promote the use of vaccines and universal access to vaccination services, National Infant Immunization Week will be celebrated from April 21 to April 28. If your child is not up to date with their vaccinations, or is in need of a flu shot, check out the Recommended Immunization Schedule for Children and Adolescents Ages 18 Years or Younger or talk to your child’s pediatrician. During the winter, there was an especially bad flu season due to a strain called H3N2 virus, and while the season may have peaked in February, scientists believe that a second wave is coming this spring. To learn more about this past flu season and flu prevention, see our blog on Why We Are Having Such a Bad Flu Season and What You Can Do About It.
According to Kathleen Berchelmann, M.D., Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics (FAAP), “an average of 5% to 20% of the U.S. population gets the flu and more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from complications.” Among this range, children are at the highest risk of catching the flu because of weaker immune systems than non-elderly adults. Shots are not recommended for people who have had an allergic reaction to the flu shot in the past, have a severe allergy to eggs, or are currently sick with a fever. Despite providing immunity to contagious diseases, many parents still have concerns about vaccines due to myths and false reports. Below are some of the common myths, as cited in parenting.com.
“Myth 1: Getting so many vaccines will overwhelm my child’s immune system.”
Looking at the recommended immunization schedule from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) listed in the beginning of this blog, it is understandable for parents to be troubled by how many shots their infants have to get at one time. Adding everything up, the CDC recommends that “your child can receive up to 23 shots by the time they are two years old and as many as six shots at a single doctor visit.” According to Dr. Paul Offit, M.D., Chief of Infectious Diseases and Director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, “children have an enormous capacity to respond safely to challenges to the immune system from vaccines … a baby’s body is bombarded with immunologic challenges – from bacteria in food to the dust they breathe. Compared to what they typically encounter and manage during the day, vaccines are literally a drop in the ocean.” Therefore, it is safe to give your child multiple vaccines or vaccine combinations at a single visit.
“Myth 2: As long as other children are getting vaccinated, mine don’t need to be.”
Herd immunity is the concept of people believing they are protected against diseases and viruses by default when the majority of people in the community are vaccinated. At first glance, it is understandable to believe that if other kids are vaccinated, then they will not get your child sick. However, there is no guarantee that every child will be vaccinated. Some parents may choose not to immunize their child due to personal or religious reasons, while some children may have a weak immune system that does not allow for vaccination shots. Relying on herd immunity to take the place of vaccinations may place your child at a higher risk for contracting diseases like the measles, among others.
Myth 3: “Vaccines cause autism and other disorders.”
Another prevalent myth is that vaccines cause autism or other disorders. This myth arose from a now-debunked research study created by Andrew Wakefield in 1998. Wakefield’s research only involved a sample size of 12 children from his son’s 10th birthday party. After an investigation by General Medical Council, it was found that Wakefield paid the children at his son’s birthday party to donate their blood for his research. Not only that, Wakefield also manipulated his data; some of the kids Wakefield suggested were diagnosed with autism actually weren’t, and he also suggested that some children who were “previously normal” actually had preexisting developmental issues before getting their shots. Despite the research being discredited, concerned parents may still believe vaccines cause autism and may avoid vaccines all together. To read more about Wakefield’s false research, click here.
You can learn more vaccine-related myths that were debunked by reading the article: 10 Vaccine Myths-Busted.
Vaccines were created to keep children healthy and safe from all kind of diseases. For a vaccine to be released to public, it needs to be carefully tested and approved to make sure they are safe for you and your child. Take this opportunity to learn more about the importance of immunizations by reading the additional sources below or by talking with your doctor. By immunizing your child, you are not only protecting your child but also the community around you.