Media Release: Raising awareness about the importance of infant immunizations

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April 21-28, 2012

Raising awareness about the importance of infant immunizations

04-21-2012 (Dayton, OH) -

According to a new report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most parents are vaccinating their kids, with less than one percent of children not receiving any vaccines by age 19-35 months.  From the second you have your baby, worries and stress surrounding their well-being and safety begin to set in.  Fortunately, one way to start children out on the track for a healthy future is making sure they are getting vaccinated and staying up to date on their immunizations.   

During the week of April 21-28, 2012Dayton Children’s wants to inform parents of the importance of protecting infants and children from vaccine-preventable diseases.  This week, Dayton Children’s also would like to highlight the achievements of immunization programs in promoting a healthier community.

“While at first the vaccination process may seem daunting, initially developing a plan with your doctor will make it much more manageable,” says Sherman Alter, MD, director of infectious disease.  “To best protect infants or toddlers from a number of infectious diseases, parents and families should talk to their child’s doctor about the recommended vaccines.”

To ensure your child receives the most effective and current vaccinations, the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) annually update their immunization schedules. There were several important changes and recommendations made in the 2012 immunization schedule for infants and young children that are worth noting.

 Dr. Alter’s eight key points to keep in mind:

1.Every person aged 6 months and older should receive the influenza vaccine annually. This includes individuals in close contact with children under 5 years of age (such as parents, grandparents or caregivers).

2.Children at 12-23 months should be vaccinated with hepatitis A virus vaccine.

3. All infants should receive oral rotavirus vaccine to protect against diarrhea caused by this virus.

4. Children should receive two doses of varicella (chickenpox) vaccine – the first between 12 to 15 months and a second between 4 to 6 years to protect from this contagious disease.

5. Adults who have or expect to have  close contact with an infant aged less than 12 months (parents, grandparents) should receive a single dose of Tdap (Tetanus toxoid, reduced diphtheria toxoid  and acellular pertussis) vaccine. This will prevent potential transmission of infection, particularly pertussis (whooping cough), from an infected adult to a young infant.

6. Infants and young children should receive the pneumococcal vaccine (PCV13) that affords protection against serious infections, such as pneumonia and meningitis.  A complete series consists of four immunizations through 18 months of age.  Children who might have received an older pneumococcal vaccine (PCV7) should complete the vaccine series with PCV13.  For children aged 14 through 59 months who completed the PCV7 series, a single additional dose of PCV13 is recommended. 

7.The meningitis vaccine (meningococcal conjugate vaccine, quadrivalent – MCV4) is recommended for children aged 9 to 23 months with certain disorders of the immune system and for children who are residents of or are travelling to countries where infection with the germ is more common.

8. While the minimum age for immunization with measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine is 12 months, MMR vaccine should be administered to infants aged 6 through 11 months who are travelling internationally. These children will need to receive an additional 2 doses of MMR vaccine at 12 months of age and older.

Vaccines protect both the child and the community, yet a significant number of parents decide not to vaccinate their children, placing them at risk of dangerous diseases and potentially exposing other unvaccinated children to those diseases.  Listed are a few of the most common frequently asked questions by parents.

Why should young children be vaccinated?

Infants and children need to be vaccinated because they are more likely to develop complications or die from vaccine-preventable diseases. Immunization is one of the most important things a parent can do to protect their children’s health. Today we can protect children from 14 serious diseases. Failure to vaccinate may mean putting children at risk for serious diseases.

Are vaccines safe?

Vaccines are very safe and effective. Like any other medicine, they can occasionally cause a sore arm or a slight fever. Serious reactions are very rare. The important thing to remember is getting the diseases is much more dangerous than getting the vaccine.

Do vaccines always work?

Vaccines work most of the time. Most infant immunizations give immunity to 90  to 99 percent of the children who get them. But occasionally a child will not respond to certain vaccines. A child who has not responded to vaccination has to depend on the immunity of others for protection. Children who haven’t been vaccinated could infect your child, but not one who has been successfully immunized.

14    diseases that can be prevented by safe vaccines include:

  • Diphtheria:  A very contagious  bacterial disease that can cause meningitis, an infection around the brain and spinal cord
  • Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib): This bacterium is very serious for children younger than age 5 and especially infants.
  • Hepatitis A and B: Hepatitis A and B are infections in the liver caused by a virus. Hepatitis A can last several months and may require hospitalization. Hepatitis B causes a flu-like illness. The virus stays in the liver of some people for the rest of their lives and can result in severe liver disease, including fatal cancer.
  •  Influenza–the flu: Most often an illness that last from several days to weeks. This can lead to hospitalization or even death among previously healthy children.
  • Measles, mumps and rubella (German measles): Measles is highly contagious and can lead to high fevers and a rash, which can last for up to a week. Mumps is known for painful swelling of the salivary glands under the jaw. Severe complications are rare, but mumps can lead to meningitis, permanent hearing loss or swelling of the testes, which can lead to sterility in men. Rubella is particularly dangerous to pregnant women who may experience a miscarriage or delivering a baby with serious heart defects, mental retardation and loss of hearing and eye sight. 
  • Pertussis (whooping cough): Starting with symptoms like the common cold, pertussis can progress to an illness that causes spells of violent coughing and choking. The majority (almost two thirds) of children younger than age 1 with pertussis are hospitalized.
  • Pneumococcal disease: This bacterium can invade the lungs and cause the most common type of bacterial pneumonia. It some cases, it can invade the bloodstream and the brain, which may result in hospitalization and even death.
  • Polio:  This virus causes sudden fever, sore throat, headache, muscle weakness and pain. In rare cases, polio can cause paralysis which affects breathing.
  • Rotavirus: The most common cause of severe diarrhea among children. Approximately 55,000 children are hospitalized each year in the United States from severe diarrhea and vomiting caused by rotavirus.
  • Tetanus (lockjaw): Tetanus is a bacterium found in the soil and may enter the body through a wound. An infection can cause serious painful spasms and stiffness of all the muscles in the body.
  • Varicella (chickenpox): Chickenpox is very contagious and spreads very easily. It is usually mild, but it can lead to severe skin infections, pneumonia and encephalitis.

“Children need immunizations to protect them from dangerous childhood diseases. These diseases have serious complications and can even kill children,” says Alter.  “Newborn babies have antibodies from their mothers and are immune to many diseases. However, this immunity does not last and quickly wears off in the first year of life. By immunizing children at the recommended times, their immune systems can get a chance to make protective antibodies that help fight against disease and illness.”

For more information, you can visit:

http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/events/niiw/overview.html

www.childrensdayton.org

www.cdc.gov

For more information, contact:
Grace Rodney
Marketing Communications Specialist
Phone: 937-641-3666
marketing@childrensdayton.org

 

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