A Healthy Start: The Importance of Vaccinating Infants on Time
The month of August has been designated as National Immunization Awareness Month. As a partnering organization, the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) is helping to promote the importance of immunization in keeping our communities healthy.
Most parents know that feeding and sleep schedules are important to help keep their children healthy. The same goes for childhood immunizations. Vaccinating children on time is the best way to protect them against 14 preventable diseases before their second birthday. Every dose of vaccine is important to protect against infectious diseases like the flu, measles, and whooping cough (pertussis) that can be life-threatening for newborns and young babies. You can provide the best protection by following the recommended immunization schedule – giving your baby every vaccine they need, when they need it – and by making sure those who will be around your baby are vaccinated as well.
“The recommended immunization schedule is designed to offer protection early in life,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, Assistant Surgeon General and Director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “when babies are vulnerable and before it’s likely they will be exposed to diseases.”
Public health and medical experts base their vaccine recommendations on many factors. They study information about diseases and vaccines very carefully to decide which vaccines kids should get and when they should get them for best protection.
Although the number of vaccines a child needs in the first two years may seem high, doctors know a great deal about the human immune system, and they know that a healthy baby’s immune system can handle getting all vaccines when they are recommended. Dr. Schuchat cautions against parents delaying vaccination. “There is no known benefit to delaying vaccination. In fact, it puts babies at risk of getting sick because they are left vulnerable to catch serious diseases during the time they are not protected by vaccines.” Unvaccinated children are unprotected against diseases that still circulate in the US, including measles and whooping cough. Staying on track with the recommended immunization schedule ensures that children have the best protection against preventable diseases by the time they turn two.
“I make sure my kids are vaccinated on time,” said Dr. Yabo Beysolow, medical officer, NCIRD and mother of three. “Getting children all the vaccines they need by age two is one of the best things parents can do to help keep their children safe and healthy.”
Talk to your healthcare provider with any questions about the childhood immunization schedule. For more information about childhood vaccines, visit www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents.
Learn more about vaccines across the lifespan at the upcoming NFID Clinical Vaccinology Course scheduled for November 15-17, 2013 in Cambridge, MA. Dr. Laura E. Riley, medical director of labor and delivery at Massachusetts General Hospital will be discussing the importance of maternal immunizations in protecting both mothers and their babies.
To join the conversation, follow us on Twitter (@nfidvaccines) using the hashtag #NIAM13, like us on Facebook, and join the NFID Linkedin Group. Join NFID at the 2nd Annual Flu Season Awareness Night on Monday, September 16, 2013 at the Washington Nationals Baseball Game in Washington, DC. Discounted tickets are available at: www.nationals.com/flu.