It’s National Infant Immunization Week – A Chance To Protect Your Child From Potentially Deadly, But Preventable Diseases
Marlinton, WV – This week is National Infant Immunization Week. The Pocahontas County Health dept, like many across the nation has scheduled clinics this week to get your children the protection they need against deadly but preventable diseases.
Dr. Larry Pickering, a senior advisor to the Center for Disease Control [CDC] for immunization and respiratory diseases, explains why this week is important.
“The purpose is to observe and promote the benefits of immunization to improve the health of children” says Dr. Pickering. “Of course, we immunize throughout the year, but this is a special week that we have to review our progress and look forward to the next year.”
He says in recent years, there’s been a resurgence of some diseases such as Pertussis, better known as Whooping Cough, partly due to a drop in immunizations.
“Last year in 2010, there were 22,000 cases reported, and probably more than that, of Whooping Cough in the United States, and they occurred in many states” says Dr. Pickering. “Unfortunately of those 22,000, twenty-six people died, and oftentimes it’s the very young children, less than one year of age, who accounted for 22 of those deaths.”
He says Pertussis was one of the diseases that had been on the decline, but the current resurgence demonstrates the need for vigilance.
“Like many diseases that are out there if we get a little bit lax in immunization of people these diseases will occur” he says. “People have not been fully immunized against Pertussis, and particularly infants who may have been too young for the immunizations that they’ve received to have kicked in fully; were exposed to people with Pertussis, and then developed the disease.”
Dr. Pickering says he believes there’s a lot of misinformation about immunizations and why parents might choose to not immunize their child.
“We commonly hear about Autism, and the purported association with Autism and vaccines, but there have been many, many studies that have shown that there’s no association between Autism and vaccines” he says. “Being a Pediatrician, I care a great deal about children who have Autism and we need to get and we need to get to the root of the cause of this condition. Other parents have other reasons, and I think the major thing that we as health care professionals need to do is to clarify what hesitancy these parents have, and then deal specifically with them with appropriate education.”
And of course, most states have laws that require children receive all their immunizations prior to attending public schools. Dr. Pickering says most health insurance plans cover the cost of vaccinations. For those who don’t that coverage, the federal program Vaccines For Children [VFC] may also help pay for them. He says for most vaccines, there is no age limit to catch up if you’ve missed one.
“Almost all of the other vaccines, there’s really no term limits to receiving these vaccines” he says. “There are catch up schedules, and they’re fairly complicated but health care professionals are familiar with them, so if someone has missed a specific vaccine, like Measles, then there are catch up schedules where those individuals should receive them.”
And he says it’s not just infants who may need a booster shot.
“Only recently within the last several years there is a new Pertussis vaccine that has been licensed and recommended for adolescents and adults” says Dr. Pickering. “As we get older sometimes the childhood vaccines that we get need to be boosted a little bit. The good thing about that vaccine is that it’s included into the normal Diptheria-Tetanus vaccine that all adults should get every 10 years.”
The Pocahontas County Health department will hold immunization clinics this week, Tuesday, April 26th through Thursday, April 28th. Times for the clinics are 9am to noon, and 1pm to 4pm. Please call 304-799-4154 for more information.