Reader’s view: Vaccinations keep the young and old healthyApril 21-28 is National Infant Immunization Week, a time to thank parents who immunize their children and themselves. They choose to protect not only their own families against serious, life-threatening illnesses but also other children and adults in their communities.
By: Colleen Carlson, Duluth News Tribune
April 21-28 is National Infant Immunization Week, a time to thank parents who immunize their children and themselves. They choose to protect not only their own families against serious, life-threatening illnesses but also other children and adults in their communities.
Vaccines are one of our greatest public health achievements. Many diseases for which we vaccinate seem to be a distant memory. Unfortunately, these diseases do exist, and we know that when we stop immunizing they return.
For example, last spring in the Twin Cities, 23 people become ill with measles. The infections were traced back to one unvaccinated child who traveled to Africa and became ill after returning to Minnesota. Seven of the infected children were too young to have received the measles vaccine and nine were not vaccinated because of parental choice. Measles is an extremely contagious virus and can cause pneumonia, blindness or even death.
Pertussis, or whooping cough, has been in the news as cases have been increasing in Minnesota and across the nation over the past three years. Most deaths from pertussis occur in the first two months of life, before a baby is old enough to receive pertussis vaccine. Making sure all the adults in a baby’s life have had diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus vaccine will protect the youngest members of our community.
Some parents are hesitant about vaccines, and I would encourage them to talk with their health-care providers. We want everyone to have accurate and up-to-date information so the best decisions can be made for children. We all want children and their families to be safe and healthy.
The writer is a registered nurse and a certified pediatric nurse practitioner.