Jacque Malley and Janice Poirot: Vaccinate children

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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? Here are five reasons to vaccinate your child during National Infant Immunization Week this week.

■ 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 because of 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 given to children only after a long and careful review by scientists, doctors and health care 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) during the past few years. Unfortunately, some babies are too young to be completely vaccinated and some people may not be able to receive vaccinations because of 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 day care 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 anymore 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 infant immunization, call the VNA at 970-879-1632 or ask your child’s health care professional.

Jacque Malley, RN

Janice Poirot, RN

Public health nurses, Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association

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