By Patty Hanley, RN and Charity Neal, RN
Parents agree that feeding and sleep schedules are important to help keep their children healthy. The same goes for childhood immunizations. Vaccinating children on time is the best way to protect them against 14 serious and potentially deadly diseases before their second birthday.
The recommended immunization schedule is designed to offer protection early in life, when babies are vulnerable and before it’s likely they will be exposed to diseases. Public health and medical experts base their vaccine recommendations on many factors. They study information about diseases and vaccines very carefully to decide which vaccines kids should get and when they should get them for best protection.
Although the number of vaccines a child needs in the first two years may seem like a lot, doctors know a great deal about the human immune system, and they know that a healthy baby’s immune system can handle getting all vaccines when they are recommended. There is no known benefit to delaying vaccination. In fact, it puts babies at risk of getting sick because they are left vulnerable to catch serious diseases during the time they are not protected by vaccines.
When parents choose not to vaccinate or to follow a delayed schedule, children are left unprotected against diseases that still circulate in this country, like measles and whooping cough.
• In 2010, more than 27,000 cases of whooping cough were reported nationally with 27 deaths – 25 of which were infants.
• In 2011, 222 people were reported to have measles in the United States—that’s more than any year since 1996.
Staying on track with the immunization schedule ensures that children have the best protection against diseases like these by age two.
Make sure your kids are vaccinated on time. Getting children all the vaccines they need by age two is one of the best things parents can do to help keep their children safe and healthy. If you have questions about the childhood immunization schedule, talk with your child’s doctor or nurse. For more information about vaccines, go to www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents.
Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association offers drop in immunizations on Thursdays from 9-4:30 at 940 Central Park Drive Suite 101 in Steamboat Springs and from 2:00-4:30 at 745 Russell Street in Craig. For more information call 970-879-1632 or 970-824-8233.
Patty Hanley, RN is the Immunization Program Coordinator and Charity Neal, RN is the Director of Public Health for the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association.