LAS VEGAS – Immunize Nevada is highlighting the importance of keeping up with infant immunizations during National Infant Immunization Week, April 25 – May 2. While the current focus is on staying safe and as healthy as possible during the pandemic — if for no other reason, to avoid adding stress to an already overburdened healthcare system. And while it’s important avoid the emergency room if possible, regular well checkups are still safe and as important as ever, and this is especially true for children.
One of the best ways to protect children is by ensuring that they’re vaccinated on time, every time. Every dose of each vaccine is essential in order to prevent 14 serious and potentially deadly diseases before children reach the age of 2.
Today’s childhood vaccines protect against serious diseases, including polio, whooping cough (pertussis), measles, mumps and rubella. Listed below are a few examples of these diseases and how their vaccines have changed the course of history.
- The polio virus spreads from person to person and can infect their spinal cord, causing paralysis. Before the polio vaccine was invented by Dr. Jonas Salk in the 1950s, schools were often shut down during outbreaks, because polio is extremely contagious and life-threatening. According to Salk.edu, “In the two years before the vaccine was widely available (1955), the average number of polio cases in the U.S. was more than 45,000. By 1962, that number had dropped to 910.” Polio has now been eliminated from most of the world.
- Mumps is best known for puffy cheeks and a swollen jaw. However, before there was a vaccine, it was one of the most common causes of deafness, meningitis and viral encephalitis (swelling of the brain) in the United States. Thanks to global efforts like the Measles and Rubella Initiative, measles deaths have dropped by 84 percent since 2000. However, measles made a comeback in 2018 and 2019 because many families stopped vaccinating their children against this contagious and dangerous disease. You have the power to protect your child against mumps, measles and rubella and with a safe and effective vaccine known as MMR.
- The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) shares that: “In the 20th century, pertussis (also known as whooping cough) was one of the most common childhood diseases and a major cause of U.S. childhood mortality. Before the availability of pertussis vaccine in the 1940s, public health experts reported more than 200,000 cases of pertussis annually. Since widespread use of the vaccine began, incidence has decreased more than 75 percent compared with the pre-vaccine era.” Like COVID-19, the bacteria that cause pertussis are spread in the air through droplets caused by a sick person sneezing or coughing. Immunization against pertussis is available for children and pregnant women through the DTaP and Tdap vaccines.
While there isn’t currently a vaccine against COVID-19, there are vaccines that can protect children from 14 other serious and potentially deadly diseases. But they only work if they’re administered on time, every time.
Those that are unsure about whether or not their child is up-to-date on their vaccines, immunization records can accessed for free at https://izrecord.nv.gov, or by calling their pediatrician or local health clinic.
Those without insurance or insurance that does not cover child vaccines, the Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program may be able to help. This program helps families of eligible children who might not otherwise have access to vaccines. Parents and caregivers looking to see if a child qualifies for the program can visit the VFC website (www.vfcnevada.org/), or ask their healthcare provider.
To celebrate the public health achievements of vaccines and the importance of immunizations throughout our lives, Immunize Nevada is joining with partners nationwide in recognizing April 25 through May 2 as National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW). Because every child should have a shot at a healthy life — in Nevada, the U.S. and worldwide.
Immunize Nevada is widely recognized as Nevada’s trusted resource for immunizations and community health for all ages by fostering education and statewide collaboration. Immunize Nevada’s vision is healthy communities across Nevada protected from vaccine-preventable disease. For more information, visit ImmunizeNevada.org.