National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW) is a week that happens each year that highlights the importance of vaccinating children two years and younger. This year NIIW is April 25 – May 2, 2020. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the goal of this week is to educate people on how effective immunization is against vaccine-preventable diseases (VPDs) and highlight the achievements and developments in immunization programs. In keeping with that spirit, we are spreading the word about the benefits of infant immunizations.
Infant Immunizations Save Lives
Infants have not had time to develop a strong immune system. That makes them vulnerable to infections that can have extremely negative effects on someone so small. Infant immunizations are an important part of building immunity that will protect your child for years to come (sometimes for life).
According to the CDC, routine immunizations among children born between 1994 and 2018 will prevent an estimated 419 million illnesses 936,000 early deaths over the course of their lifetimes. Diseases that were once fatal or disabling to many children are now preventable and rare because of immunizations. The elimination of polio in the US is one of the best examples of how successful vaccine programs can be.
Immunization Protects Others Around You
Immunizations don’t just protect individuals, they protect entire communities through a process known as “herd immunity” or “community immunity.” Herd immunity occurs when as many people as possible are immunized against a particular disease, creating fewer places for it to land and cause an infection outbreak.
That protects the people in that population who are unable to be vaccinated due to age or health issues. Young babies, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems all benefit from widespread immunization even if they can’t receive the vaccine themselves.
In places where previously there are outbreaks of previously eliminated diseases, not enough people who are able to be vaccinated have been vaccinated. While otherwise healthy people may get sick and recover from VPDs, the most vulnerable people in our communities suffer the most from the loss of herd immunity.
Vaccines are Safe and Effective
The vaccines given to children and adults have been thoroughly tested to ensure safety and effectiveness. According to the CDC, the current vaccine supply in the US is the safest in history. While it is possible for someone to have a negative reaction to routine vaccination, it is a very rare occurrence. Theories about vaccines causing autism or negatively affecting large numbers of children have been repeatedly proven to be myths that have no supporting scientific evidence. Vaccination is one of the safest, most reliable, and most effective things you can do to keep your child safe.
Immunizations Save Time, Expense & Heartache
Getting your child vaccinated can save their life, which is the biggest reason infant immunizations are important. But there are other things that are saved by vaccinating your children. Even if an infection would not have been fatal, you are saving your child from the pain and suffering associated with VCDs. You’re also saving yourself the heartache of seeing your child become ill. Lastly, you save time and money because you will not need to visit the doctor or hospital for treatment of a serious illness that was vaccine-preventable.
Vaccines Can Wipe Out Devastating Diseases
Because of vaccines, many diseases that have devastating effects have been greatly reduced or even eliminated. Illnesses that were fatal or left people disabled just a short time ago are no longer as much of a threat. For instance, smallpox was eradicated around the world because of the development of a vaccine. Other illnesses like polio and rubella are not seen in the US now because of immunization.
However, these diseases will only remain a part of the past as long as we vaccinate completely and continue to vaccinate. Measles and mumps were largely eliminated from the United States for decades, but there have been more cases popping up in recent years in pockets of the population who that have chosen not to vaccinate.
At HealthPark Pediatrics, our providers have full confidence in the safety and efficacy of vaccines. We urge our patients to follow the immunization guidelines recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the CDC for children from birth to 18 years old. If you have questions about infant immunizations and our immunization services, call our Raleigh, NC office at (919) 896-7076 to make an appointment.