The Most Wonderful Time of the Year: Back-to-School Vaccinations
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, there is no time like the present to get your child vaccinated, with this particular month being of added importance for this is, of course, August – the last month of summer vacation.
Yes, the last, heartbreaking month for those marathon video game sessions and other such activities children desperately cling to in order to avoid the great outdoors at virtually all costs. Physical fitness aside though, one could almost make the argument that keeping the kids indoors this summer has actually become the comparatively healthy option. Measles and whooping cough cases have reached their highest levels in years, the growing numbers due in large part to unvaccinated individuals. So far this year, cases of whooping cough in San Diego county alone are approaching 1,000, a worrisome increase compared to the 431 cases in all of 2013.
As if the vengeful resurgence of these preventable diseases weren’t troubling enough however, the increase of parents exempting their children from vaccinations has (ironically, in their case) made 2014 the most important year in recent memory to ensure that all children are up-to-date on their vaccinations before the start of the school year. Less immunity does not result in less autism, less allergies, leukemia, diabetes or whatever else the anti-vaccine movement is claiming, but leads only to one thing: greater susceptibility.
According to Jeff Necuzzi, director of immunization services at the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (a state with one of the highest vaccination rates in the country), ‘The compulsory immunizations for school entry is the worldwide model for reducing vaccine-preventable disease in communities, and it works […] Vaccines work to protect individuals from disease, but their real strength lies in their ability to protect society as a whole.’ This concept is known as “herd immunity,” which becomes threatened when parents start failing to do their part in immunizing their children according to their doctor’s, and state’s, recommended timetable.
For most states, the lack of required immunizations, roughly the same across the country (polio, chickenpox, measles, and the all-important pertussis vaccine and booster, etc.), can greatly inhibit a child’s chance to start school on time. While many of these mandatory requirements are meant to ensure immunity for young children, the risk of disease does not end with childhood. For students entering college for the first time, doctors highly recommend receiving the meningitis vaccine – especially for those living in dormitories.
Another newly present weapom against infection is the vastly underused HPV vaccine. According to a recent article in The Atlantic, “Cancer Vaccine Exists, Goes Unused,” “Every 20 minutes a person in the U.S. is diagnosed with a human-papilloma virus-associated cancer. Most of those cancers could be prevented with an HPV vaccine.” Unfortunately, only 47 percent of children between 11-12 have received it – a number that could be substantially improved if everyone receiving their pertussis booster also received their first HPV dose.
Vaccines, in concurrence with the recommendations of the medical community, are the safest and most effective way to prevent crippling, even deadly, disease; some of which, after having been eliminated, have returned to pose a very real danger to anyone willing to forego this overwhelmingly secure option. With the end of summer arrives even more risk. It’s time for back-to-school vaccinations. Time, once again, to face reality.
For more information regarding your child’s immunization records, we welcome you to read our blog post on the subject: No Time Like the Present: How and Where to Locate Immunization Records
For more information on your state’s immunization requirements, please visit the National Network for Immunization Information.