As of June 24, the United States recorded 33 new Measles cases in one week. With a total of 1,077 cases documented so far this year, experts are now calling this the worst Measles outbreak since 1992. Concerns about the growing risk of Measles across the nation has resurfaced dialogue surrounding a decision every parent must face: Should I vaccinate my baby?
Health experts say the current Measles outbreak is spreading among adolescents whose parents chose not to immunize their children by issuing the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine during early developmental years. The recent trend of parents passing on the MMR vaccine is the result of concerns by some parents that the vaccine may cause Autism; however, no formal studies have ever confirmed a link between the two. Today, with the resurgence of a disease the U.S. declared eliminated in 2000 resurfacing with deadly consequences, parents of newborns and couples who are pregnant should educate themselves about the benefits of immunizations so they can talk to their doctors and make informed decisions regarding the best health protections for their babies.
Health Benefits of Childhood Immunizations
Prevention is always more effective than reactive treatments, which is why immunizations remain the most powerful defense against known, contagious diseases. Children can be vaccinated against fourteen known serious childhood diseases within the first two years of their lives. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these diseases include:
- Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Influenza (flu)
- Pertussis (Whooping cough)
- Pneumococcal disease
- Rubella (German measles)
- Tetanus (lockjaw)
- Varicella (chickenpox)
Certainly, every parent wants to protect their child and keep him or her safe for the entirety of the child’s life. From a communicable disease perspective, vaccinations are the best way to safeguard your child’s health. Here are four reasons why:
The 14 Diseases Listed Above Are Still a Threat
Yes, Polio still exists, even if it feels like no one has talked about the realities of the disease since the 1940s. While vaccines have limited the number of cases of the conditions listed above, strains still exist—including in other countries—and are still a threat unless a child receives appropriate vaccinations. As we see today with the current, Measles outbreak, it is only through consistent, mass immunization that we can keep these diseases contained.
Vaccines are Safe and Proven Effective
Despite the myths that may be circulating among some social circles or the social stratosphere regarding adverse risks of cognitive disabilities associated with vaccines, such rumors have never been validated. Currently, The United States has the safest vaccine supply in its history, which means it has never been safer to immunize your child.
Your Doctor Can Advise You of Any Known Risks
When it comes to making any decisions regarding the health and wellness of your child, your doctor will always be your best, more trusted health advocate. There may be some instances in which your doctor may not recommend vaccinating your child—such as cases of allergies, a weakened immune system, or recent medical treatments. Always consult and collaborate with your doctor to decide what course of treatment is best for your baby.
Vaccinations Mean Fewer Sick Days
Not every disease or communicable illness poses a risk of death, however, every illness does pose a risk of sick time and missed days of school that could be detrimental to your child’s development and education. Plus, unvaccinated children can pose health risks and contagion threats to other children to which they are exposed, which could result in a further spread of disease.
Talk to Your Doctor
Before making any decisions about your family’s immunization strategy, talk to your doctor about immunization benefits and risks and what’s best for your baby. By understanding the facts about immunizations, and knowing you have a health care expert committed to your family’s long-term wellbeing, you can make informed decisions that will give you comfort and confidence throughout your child’s development