Jacque Malley and Janice Poirot: Vaccinations important

To the editor:

You want to do what is best for your children.

You know about the importance of car seats, baby gates and other ways to keep them safe. But, did you know that one of the best ways to protect your children is to make sure they have all of their vaccinations?

Immunizations can save your child’s life. Because of advances in medicine, your child can be protected against more diseases than ever before. Some diseases that once injured or killed thousands of children, have been eliminated completely and others are close to extinction– primarily due to safe and effective vaccines. Polio was once America’s most-feared disease, causing death and paralysis across the country, but today, thanks to vaccination, there are no reports of polio in the U.S.

Vaccination is very safe and effective. Vaccines are only given to children after a long and careful review by scientists, doctors, and healthcare professionals. Vaccines will involve some discomfort and may cause pain, redness, or tenderness at the site of injection but this is minimal compared to the pain, discomfort, and trauma of the diseases these vaccines prevent.

Immunization protects others you care about. Children in the U.S. still get vaccine-preventable diseases.

In fact, we have seen resurgences of measles and whooping cough (pertussis) over the past few years. Unfortunately, some babies are too young to be completely vaccinated and some people may not be able to receive vaccinations due to severe allergies or weakened immune systems from conditions like leukemia.

To help keep them safe, it’s important that you and your children who are able to get vaccinated are fully immunized. This not only protects your family, but also helps prevent the spread of these diseases to your friends and loved ones.

Immunizations can save your family time and money. A child with a vaccine-preventable disease can be denied attendance at schools or daycare facilities. Some vaccine-preventable diseases can result in prolonged disabilities and can take a financial toll because of lost time at work, medical bills or long-term disability care.

In contrast, getting vaccinated against these diseases is a good investment and usually covered by insurance. The Vaccines for Children program is a federally funded program that provides vaccines at no cost to children from low-income families.

Immunization protects future generations. Vaccines have reduced and, in some cases, eliminated diseases that killed or severely disabled people just a few generations ago.

For example, your children don’t have to get smallpox shots any more because the disease no longer exists. If we continue vaccinating now, and vaccinating completely, parents may be able to trust that some diseases of today will no longer be around to harm their children in the future.

For information about the importance of infant immunization, call the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association at 824-8233 or 879-1632, or ask your child’s health care professional.

Jacque Malley and Janice Poirot

Public health nurses, Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association

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