By: Stanford T. Shulman, M.D., Guest Blogger
Are your children up-to-date on their vaccinations? Vaccines are the single most effective method to prevent life-threatening diseases such as measles, meningitis, whooping cough, and polio.
In the United States, many parents think their families are immune to these devastating diseases. The fact is, because of vaccines, we rarely encounter these highly contagious diseases.
That does not mean the war is won; preventing the spread of contagious diseases like measles or whooping cough is a continuous battle that begins again with each newborn baby.
To be most effective:
- Every child should receive the vaccines according to the schedule recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
- You should navigate the simple CDC website, which allows you to make a schedule for your child. Select your child’s birth date for a complete list of recommended immunizations. Personalize it by adding your child's name, then print it for your records. Review the personalized schedule with your child's doctor. There are even interactive tools for adolescents and younger children (birth to 6 years) you can use to determine the vaccines your child needs, and it’s especially useful for quickly seeing missed or skipped vaccines according to the Recommended Immunization Schedule.
- Your family should follow school vaccination requirements. Preschools, schools, and public health policies in the U.S. generally require children to be immunized as a precondition to enrolling in school, for the student’s own protection and that of other students.
There has been lot of misinformation, particularly on the Internet, about the link between children's vaccinations and autism. There is no scientific proof that vaccinations cause autism. In fact, with the exception of clean drinking water, no other public health strategy—not even antibiotics—has had such a tremendous effect on reducing disease and improving health.
Vaccine-preventable diseases can be easily spread in the places where children gather—in classrooms, on soccer fields, and playgrounds. These diseases attack children without warning, but with severe consequences.
The American Academy of Pediatrics also has a number of online tools to help you make the best decision for your child’s health. Its website was assessed by the World Health Organization (WHO) and is included in the WHO's list of vaccine safety websites.
Stanford T. Shulman, MD, has been the head of the Division of Infectious Diseases (and Chief of Infection Control) at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, since 1979 and is the Virginia H. Rogers Professor of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Shulman received his B.S. from University of Cincinnati and his medical degree from the University of Chicago Medical School.___________________________________________________________________________ Photo Credit: Simon Bostock via Flick'r.