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It is important for children to be fully immunized. Diseases that can be prevented with vaccines can be very serious – even deadly – especially for infants and young children. For example, children younger than two years old are at the highest risk for serious pneumococcal disease like pneumonia, blood infection (sepsis), and meningitis. Before the pneumococcal vaccine was used routinely, an estimated 17,000 cases of severe types of pneumococcal infection, like meningitis, occurred each year.
Immunizations have helped to greatly improve the health of children in the United States. Most parents today have never seen first-hand the devastating consequences that vaccine-preventable diseases have on a family or community. Although most of these diseases are not common in the United States, they persist around the world. It is important that we continue to protect our children with vaccines because outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases can and do occasionally occur in this country.
One example of the seriousness of vaccine-preventable diseases is the increase in whooping cough (pertussis) cases or outbreaks reported in 2012. More than 48,000 cases of pertussis were reported across the United States during 2012, including 20 deaths. The majority of deaths occurred among infants younger than 3 months of age. This was the most reported cases since 1955. In 2012, 55 cases of measles were provisionally reported in the United States. These caused four different measles outbreaks in U.S. communities. Measles is brought into the United States by unvaccinated U.S. residents and foreign visitors who get infected when they are in other countries. Measles is still common in many parts of the world, including Europe, Asia, the Pacific, and Africa. Measles spreads easily, and it can be serious, causing hospitalization and even death. Young children are at highest risk for serious complications from measles.
Vaccinating your baby according to the recommended immunization schedule gives him the best protection against 14 serious childhood illnesses – like measles and whooping cough – before he is 2 years old. The recommended schedule is designed to protect infants and children early in life, when they are most vulnerable and before they are exposed to potentially life-threatening diseases.
The recommended immunization schedule for babies includes vaccination protection against all of the following diseases:
Even though the United States experiences outbreaks of some vaccine-preventable diseases, the spread of disease usually slows or stops because of immunization. If we stopped vaccinating, even the few cases we have in this country could very quickly become tens or hundreds of thousands of cases.
Fortunately, most parents choose to vaccinate their children and immunization rates in this country are at or near record high levels. In fact, fewer than 1 percent of children do not receive any vaccines. However, some children have not received all of their vaccines and therefore are not fully immunized. It's important that children receive all doses of the vaccines according to the recommended immunization schedule. Not receiving all doses of a vaccine leaves a child vulnerable to catching serious diseases.
That's why it's important to make sure that your child is up to date on his immunizations. Call your pediatrician to find out if your child is due for any vaccinations. Or, you can use this online tool to enter your child's current record and quickly see if any doses have been skipped or missed. It is important to your child's health to stay up to date on immunizations.
Most health insurance plans cover the cost of vaccinations, but you should check with your insurance provider before going to the doctor. If you don't have health insurance, or if your insurance does not cover vaccinations, your child is eligible for vaccines through the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program.
The VFC Program helps families of eligible children who might not otherwise have access to recommended childhood vaccines. This federal program provides vaccines for eligible children at no cost for the vaccine itself, although an administration fee may apply. These fees help providers cover the costs of giving the vaccines, including storing the vaccines and paying staff members to give vaccines to patients.
Children younger than 19 years of age are eligible for VFC vaccines if they are:
A child that meets one or more of the above eligibility requirements is eligible to receive VFC vaccine. VFC vaccines cannot be denied to an eligible child if the family can’t afford to pay the administration fee.
Last syndicated: February 25, 2014
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