As we close out the month of August, which absolutely flew by, I always get excited to see all the adorable back to school posts all my mom friends put on their social media, and all the beautiful children preparing to head back to in person classes, after undergoing a year of virtual learning thanks to Covid-19. What a year and a half this has been…. I then realized that it is also the end of National Immunization Awareness Month, and making sure I take time to do my research on all the required immunizations my child has to have before returning to school in the fall is extremely important to me. Ensuring the health and safety of my sweet Lourdes, is and will always be my first priority. And like most parents, I want to make sure I am always making the best decisions for my family.
Now more than ever, it is so important that our children are up to date on their immunizations to help prevent the spread of deadly diseases like whooping cough, flu and measles, especially for those of us with children under 12 years old. Primary care and pediatric offices have made it easier now for parents to bring their children to their well visits and get up to date on all their vaccinations. New procedures are also in place to ensure patients can safely visit, including checking in from the car, limiting how many people can accompany a child, and requiring face masks. The last thing we would want is an avoidable outbreak such as whooping cough or measles, when the healthcare system is already overwhelmed and stressed by the COVID19 pandemic.
Immunizations and Vaccines for Adolescents and Children
Currently, no COVID-19 vaccine has been authorized for use in people younger than 12, but clinical trials are underway for children and younger adolescents. With regard to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are two vaccines available: Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, which is now FDA approved : This vaccine can be used for people over 12 years of age. Moderna COVID-19 vaccine: This vaccine can be used for people over 18 years. The same critical processes to test the safety of these vaccines and clinical trials have been used for vaccines for flu, polio, measles, mumps, pertussis and more.
Children Can Get Sick and Infect Others From COVID-19
COVID 19 can be life threatening, even in children. Typically babies and toddlers with underlying conditions and illnesses such as asthma, diabetes or obesity will be more likely to have severe illness from COVID19. Majority of healthy infants and children have mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. A recent study showed 185 children under the age of 18 have died from COVID-19, according to CDC data from December 2020.
Being vaccinated will help these numbers go down and help build stronger community immunity. Data from the COVID-19 vaccines suggests that vaccination prevents people from carrying COVID-19 without symptoms — something that has been seen often in children. While all vaccines are a personal choice, now more than ever it is important to know as much as you can about all immunizations your children can take to prevent any additional harmful illnesses.
Spread Happiness, and Not COVID-19
There are a few things we can all do to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and other harmful diseases like the flu, whooping cough, or even the common cold this fall/winter season that is vastly approaching. Continue to wear a mask when outside of your home and in crowded areas. It is not recommended to put a cloth face covering on your baby, or any child under the age of 2. Continue to maintain 6 feet of distance from people outside of your immediate household members. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer if you’re not around a sink. One of my mom tips for staying prepared, is keeping antibacterial surface wipes and hand wipes in the car and around every area people in my home frequent to continue to keep our spaces clean, and germ free.
The Effects of Diseases Without Vaccines on Our Public Health
Before vaccines, statistics in the United States showed that every year, Polio would paralyze 10,000 children. Pertussis (whooping cough) would kill 8,000 infants. Measles would infect about 4 million children, killing about 500. Rubella (German measles) would cause birth defects and intellectual disabilities in as many as 20,000 newborns. Diphtheria would be one of the most common causes of death in school-aged children. A bacterium called Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) would cause meningitis in 15,000 children, leaving many with permanent brain damage. We thankfully do not worry about these life-threatening diseases anymore because of vaccine protection. We want to eradicate all the other diseases that I have mentioned above as well by continuing to do our part. Sending your children to school without all the required immunizations could be harmful to not only them, but the children around them. So being educated on the effects of not keeping up with your child’s immunization schedule is so important.
The Importance of Following CDC Recommended Schedule
Following the recommended immunization schedule protects infants and children by providing immunity early in life, when they are most at risk for getting seriously ill from these diseases if they are exposed. Infants and young children who do not follow the recommended immunization schedules and instead spread out shots, or leave out shots; are at risk of developing diseases during the time that the shots are delayed. This subsequently results in more frequent visits to the doctor’s office. The schedule is recommended by the CDC and is also approved by every major medical organization in the country, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians. The CDC-recommended schedule is the only schedule that has been carefully tested, studied and reviewed by medical experts prior to being recommended for children. So be sure to make those doctors appointments and get your children up to date, with all the recommended immunizations they need to thrive this school year.
Having Questions Is Totally Normal, and Makes You a Great Parent!
Doctors and medical health professionals agree that vaccines are safe and effective, as shown throughout history. Make sure you are getting answers from credible sources. Don’t even take my word for it, speak to a medical professional that cares about the health and well being of your family. Talk to your child’s primary care physician and explore resources like IVaccinate.org. I Vaccinate provides Michigan parents with information and tools based on real medical science and research to help them protect their children and families. Resources include a parent-focused, Michigan-specific website (IVaccinate.org), social media communities (@IVaccinateMI on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram), and more.
Remember it’s never too late to do the right thing for your family. Whatever you decide, always remember there are resources available to help guide you along your journey. Trust me I understand the feeling of uncertainty and hesitation. It’s natural for us all. Just be sure you’re taking the steps to educate yourself about the best options for you and your family. I am sure glad that I did. iVaccinate has been an amazing resource for me, and it can be for you as well! Be sure to visit IVaccinate.org for more answers to your questions!