Getting children vaccinated against preventable, potentially deadly diseases like measles, mumps and whooping cough not only protects our family’s health, it protects public health.
“Vaccinating children doesn’t just protect the child getting that vaccine, it helps prevent the spread of serious and deadly illnesses in the community,” said Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Chief Medical Officer Dr. Vindell Washington. “There are people who have immune system-suppressing conditions that limit their ability to fight off diseases, and children who are too young to be vaccinated. But, if the people around them have been vaccinated against diseases, it develops what’s called ‘herd immunity,’ which lowers everyone’s risks of getting sick.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) holds National Infant Immunization Week as an annual observance to raise awareness of the importance and effectiveness of childhood vaccinations. This year, National Infant Immunization Week is April 27-May 4.
Dr. Washington wrote an op-ed for The Advocate in January, outlining how small but increasing numbers of children are not getting any or all of the recommended childhood vaccines, which is leading to outbreaks of diseases that have not been common for decades.
Currently, the United States has more cases of measles, a disease that is largely preventable through childhood immunizations, than have occurred in nearly 20 years. Measles outbreaks have been reported in multiple states since the beginning of 2019.
“Vaccines are safe, effective and have been given in this country for many years with great success in protecting children against diseases that, years ago, prevented many from growing into adulthood,” Washington said.
Washington encourages parents who have questions or concerns about vaccination to speak with their children’s doctors for medical guidance and more information.