August is National Immunization Awareness Month. As we begin to prepare for what will surely be a much different school year, it is essential that children and adolescents have optimal health and are protected against any additional threats to their health, such as vaccine preventable illnesses. Well child and infant exams are incredibly important for monitoring growth, development, addressing learning and social concerns, and assuring that immunizations are up to date.
Some vaccine preventable illnesses remain common in the United States, such as chickenpox and whooping cough. We have experienced 10,000 to 50,000 cases of whooping cough annually since 2010 in the United States alone. Because of routine vaccinations, other illnesses such as measles are less common, however the 2019 Measles Outbreaks are keen reminders of how quickly these illnesses can spread. A vaccine preventable illness outbreak in the midst of trying to navigate COVID-19 could be catastrophic. Talk with your child’s pediatrician or health care provider about the innovative ways clinics are continuing to provide well child and adolescent exams and immunization updates during the pandemic.
As a pediatrician, my number one concern is the health and well-being of infants, children, and adolescents. Routine immunization for all ages is a safe, effective tool to keep kids and the broader communities where they live, play, and learn healthy. Designed to work with our amazing immune system, vaccines provide immunity to serious, and potentially life-threatening diseases, and they are a way for parents to take control of their child’s health and help ensure a healthy future. Children and adults who are immunocompromised due to medical conditions or treatments for cancer are at risk for developing serious illness from vaccine preventable diseases, but healthy children and adults are too. Having children and adults current on immunizations is the best way to defend against this risk. Vaccines can reduce the need for medical interventions and are a powerful tool to minimize threats to everyone’s health from unpredictable diseases.
Immunizations are one of the greatest public health accomplishments and are the most studied medications we give. As you are preparing your family for this upcoming school year, please check with your health care provider to assure that you and your children are up to date with recommended vaccinations.
Thank you to the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics for the information contained in this article. Information provided by Amy N. Kimball, DO FAAP, Pediatrician, Health Trust Physician’s Clinic, Madison County Health Care System, Past President, Iowa Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, (515) 462-2950, www.madisonhealth.com