Dr. Anna Lundeen, of the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association's Community Health Center, performs a checkup. Parents agree that feeding and sleep schedules are important to help keep their children healthy. The same goes for childhood immunizations.

Courtesy photo

Dr. Anna Lundeen, of the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association's Community Health Center, performs a checkup. Parents agree that feeding and sleep schedules are important to help keep their children healthy. The same goes for childhood immunizations.

Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association: Vaccinating on time important for keeping kids safe, healthy

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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.

Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association

This monthly column about health issues publishes on Mondays in the Steamboat Today. Read more columns here.

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 serious diseases during the time they are not protected by vaccines.

When parents choose not to vaccinate or not to follow a delayed schedule, children are left unprotected against diseases that still circulate in this country, such as 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 2.

Make sure your kids are vaccinated on time. Getting children all the vaccines they need by age 2 is one of the best thing 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, visit www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents.

The Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association offers drop-in immunizations from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Thursdays at 940 Central Park Drive, Suite 101. For more information, call 970-879-1632.

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.

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