We all need to focus on
staying safe and as healthy as possible during this pandemic — if for no other
reason, to avoid adding stress to our already overburdened healthcare system.
And while we must avoid the emergency room if we can, vaccines are as important
as ever. This is especially true for our children.
One of the best ways we can
protect our children is through ensuring they’re vaccinated on time, every
time. Every dose of every vaccine is essential to prevent 14 serious and
potentially deadly diseases before the age of 2.
Today’s childhood vaccines protect against serious
diseases, including polio, whooping cough (pertussis), measles, mumps and
Listed below are just a few examples of these diseases and how their vaccines
have changed the course of history.
- The polio
virus spreads from person to person and can infect their spinal cord, causing
paralysis. Before the polio vaccine was invented by Dr. Jonas Salk in the
1950s, schools were often shut down during outbreaks, because polio is
extremely contagious and life-threatening. According to Salk.edu, “In the two
years before the vaccine was widely available (1955), the average number of
polio cases in the U.S. was more than 45,000. By 1962, that number had dropped
to 910.” Polio has now been eliminated from most of the world.
- Mumps is best known for
puffy cheeks and a swollen jaw. However, before there was a vaccine, it was one
of the most common causes of deafness, meningitis and viral encephalitis
(swelling of the brain) in the United States. Thanks to global efforts like the
Measles and Rubella Initiative, measles deaths have dropped by 84
percent since 2000. However, measles made a comeback in 2018 and 2019 because
many families stopped vaccinating their children against this contagious and
dangerous disease. You have the power to protect your child against mumps,
measles and rubella and with a safe and effective vaccine known as MMR.
- The Centers for
Disease Control (CDC) shares that: “In the 20th century, pertussis (also
known as whooping cough) was one of the most common childhood diseases and
a major cause of U.S. childhood mortality. Before the availability of pertussis
vaccine in the 1940s, public health experts reported more than 200,000 cases of
pertussis annually. Since widespread use of the vaccine began, incidence has
decreased more than 75 percent compared with the pre-vaccine era.” Like COVID-19, the bacteria that cause
pertussis are spread in the air through droplets caused by a sick person
sneezing or coughing. Immunization against pertussis is available for children
and pregnant women through the DTaP and Tdap vaccines.
While there isn’t currently
a vaccine against COVID-19, the good news is that vaccines can protect our
children from 14 other serious and potentially deadly diseases. But they only
work if they’re administered on time, every time.
If you’re not sure if your
child is current on their vaccines, you can access their immunization record
for free at https://izrecord.nv.gov. Or you
can call your pediatrician or local
health clinic and ask. This is also a good time for them to tell you what
additional safety measures they’re taking to ensure you and your family are
protected when you visit.
If you don’t have insurance
or if your insurance does not cover vaccines for your child, the Vaccines for
Children (VFC) Program may be able to help. This program helps families of
eligible children who might not otherwise have access to vaccines. To find out
if your child qualifies, visit the VFC website (www.vfcnevada.org/), or ask your healthcare provider.
To celebrate the public health achievements of
vaccines and the importance of immunizations throughout our lives, Immunize
Nevada is joining with partners nationwide in
recognizing April 25 – May 2 as National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW).
Because every child should have a shot at a healthy life — in Nevada, the U.S.
If you have questions about vaccines and
vaccine-preventable diseases, please visit www.immunizenevada.org or follow us on social media.