Since 1994, National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW) has presented the important public health message that it is our duty to protect infants from vaccine-preventable diseases. This year, NIIW will be observed April 21-28. It’s a time to celebrate the achievements of America’s many immunization programs and the partnerships that help protect and promote healthy communities.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are 14 diseases that are vaccine-preventable: mumps, measles, rubella (MMR), pertussis (whooping cough), chickenpox, tetanus, poliomyelitis (polio), diphtheria, hepatitis B, Haemophilus Influenzae Type B infection or Hib, (a bacterial illness that can lead to a potentially deadly brain infection in young children), H influenza, meningococcal, pneumococcal disease, and rotavirus.
In recent years, some parents have voiced concerns about infants receiving too many vaccines and that it is their belief that infant immune systems are not adequately developed and therefore unable to handle vaccines safely. Others worry that immunizations will give their child the disease it’s intended to prevent.
Children’s immune systems create antibodies against germs, whether the child has been exposed naturally or through a vaccine. Also, it is impossible to get the disease from any vaccine made with dead bacteria or viruses.
Only a few out of the 14 vaccines are capable of passing the disease to the child, such as chickenpox or measles-mumps-rubella (MMR). Although, if a child were to develop one of these diseases, it’’s almost always a much less severe case than if the child were to contract the disease naturally. Only children with weak immune systems are at risk for these vaccines to cause serious problems.
Another common concern about vaccines is whether or not they cause autism. Despite much controversy, researchers have not found a connection between autism and childhood vaccines.
According to the CDC, the risks of developing health issues from the natural contamination of a disease outweigh the risks of getting a vaccine, so it is vital to our children’s health to fully inform parents of the importance of vaccinating their children against preventable diseases.