Story last updated at 4/25/2012 - 11:31 am
SITKA - The SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) is joining with other health organizations in the United States and around the world on April 21-28 to celebrate National Infant Immunization Week and the inaugural World Immunization Week.
During this week, hundreds of communities will celebrate the critical role vaccinations play in protecting our children, communities and public health. National Infant Immunization Week began in 1994, and this year the World Health Organization is launching the first global immunization observance, World Immunization Week.
Vaccines are among the most successful and cost-effective public health tools available for preventing disease and death. They not only help protect vaccinated individuals, but also help protect entire communities by preventing and reducing the spread of infectious diseases. Immunization is a shared responsibility. Families, health care professionals and public health officials must work together to help protect the entire community.
Here are five reasons you should make sure your children have all of their vaccinations:
Immunizations can save your child's life - Because of advances in medical science, your child can be protected from more diseases than ever before. Some diseases that once injured or killed thousands of children, such as polio, have been eliminated or are close to extinction, mainly due to safe and effective vaccines.
Vaccination is very safe and effective - Vaccines are only given to children after a long and careful review by scientists, doctors, and healthcare professionals. While some children may feel discomfort or mild pain when they are immunized, this is minimal compared to the pain, discomfort and trauma caused by the diseases the vaccines prevent. Serious side effects, such as allergic reactions, are very rare.
Immunization protects others you care about - Children in the U.S. still get vaccine-preventable diseases. In fact, there have been resurgences of measles and whooping cough (pertussis) in recent years. Some babies are too young to be immunized, or may not be able to receive immunizations due to allergies, weakened immune systems or other medical conditions. To help keep them safe, it is important that you and your children who are able to get vaccinated are fully immunized. This helps protect you and your family, and helps prevent the spread of diseases.
Immunizations can save your family time and money - Children with vaccine-preventable diseases can be denied attendance at schools or daycare facilities, and the diseases can take a toll on the family because of the lost time from work and medical bills. Getting vaccinated is good insurance against these diseases.
Immunization protects future generations - Vaccines have reduced and, in some cases, eliminated many diseases that killed or severely disabled people just a few generations ago. If we continue vaccinating now, and vaccinating completely, parents may be able to trust that some diseases of today will no longer be around to harm their children in the future.
The federally funded Vaccines For Children (VFC) program provides most vaccines at no cost to all children through 18 years of age. Children meeting other criteria, such as being Alaska Native/American Indian, uninsured, underinsured or Medicaid-eligible, may be eligible for all vaccines. To find out more about the VFC program, go to www.cdc.gov/vaccines/programs/vfc/, or ask your child's health care provider.
For more information about the importance of vaccinations, contact your child's health provider or Laurie Hood, RN, in Sitka at 966-8738, or visit www.cdc.gov/vaccines. Hood is available to help connect families with programs that provide free and low-cost vaccinations.