The importance of immunizations

Why vaccinate, when to vaccinate, and how to stay on schedule

dad giving son a piggy back ride

When it comes to immunizations, it can be hard to separate fact from fiction. Certain diseases have become so rare because of widespread immunizations that many parents question whether their children need them.

But most diseases that vaccines prevent still exist, so getting immunizations is just as important now as it has ever been.

“Immunizations are one of the best ways to end the potentially serious effects of many diseases,” said Jennifer Schriever, M.D., a family medicine provider at Sanford Health in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. “But today many people dangerously underestimate or ignore their life-saving value.”

Prevent outbreaks

The truth is that immunizations save lives. Diseases that once hospitalized, permanently impaired or killed thousands of children are now preventable.

Each immunization is safe and effective because scientists, doctors and governmental institutions carefully review each one. Immunizations teach the immune system how to fight specific threats. The goal is to stop outbreaks before they even start.

Measles is a viral infection that can be very harmful to children, older adults and pregnant women. It’s spread through the air into the respiratory system, making it highly contagious, but it’s also preventable with an immunization. Despite this, areas of the United States have seen measles outbreaks in recent years.

Child and adolescent shots

It’s recommended that adolescents get three specific immunizations: HPV (human papillomavirus), MCV (meningitis) and Tdap, which protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough). These three immunizations provide protection from 14 potentially deadly diseases. Human papillomavirus causes 27,000 cancer cases in both males and females in the U.S. annually.

Adolescents age 11-19 account for one-third of the cases of whooping cough in the U.S. each year, and more than one in five of the country’s cases of meningococcal disease occur in people ages 11-24.

Primary care providers know when your children are due for immunizations. Learn what to expect at your child’s next appointment by checking the CDC’s recommended vaccine schedules.

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Posted In Children's, Health Information, Healthy Living, Immunizations

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