A Parent’s Guide to Childhood Immunization

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childhood immunization

Child immunizations are among many controversies lately, as parents got wind of some alarming comments made during the presidential debates regarding various immunizations and new CDC recommendations. The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine alone has started hot debates all over the country as parents who got their children vaccinated against the virus are now concerned that the vaccination was not safe.

In fact, Rep. Michele Bachmann made a comment that the HPV virus could cause mental retardation, which according to the American Academy of Pediatrics has no scientific validity. Others, like Texas Governor Rick Perry, are also on the defense because he made sure that all of the sixth-grade girls in Texas got the HPV vaccination.

HPV is not the only vaccination under scrutiny, as many parents are questioning the validity of many baby immunizations and some are opting out. In fact, one out of every five children entering school in California have not had the recommended childhood vaccines, which has many healthcare professionals concerned.

What exactly is a vaccine?

According to professor of pediatrics at Washington University, Michele E. Estabrook, MD, a vaccination “is part of a bacteria or virus that can be safely given to a person either as a shot or a liquid. It doesn’t make the person sick, but it does cause the immune system to make protective antibodies against the bacteria or virus.”

Why should children get vaccinations?

The healthcare community states that vaccinations keep children from getting various harmful illnesses that can not only be caught, but also spread. A vaccination against certain disease can prevent serious illness and even death. Estabrook states that vaccinations help prevent illness, which is quite cost-effective in the long run. Sick children cannot go to school, which costs the parents money for doctors’ visits or finding other caregivers and it saves money on medicine, hospitalization, and other various medical expenses.

The benefits are greater than the risks.

Yes, there may be some side effects from a vaccination, but the benefits are far greater than the risks. The rare, serious side effects do not pose as much danger as dealing with an epidemic of some sort of serious illness or disease. Estabrook assures that the side effects of the vaccination are far less dangerous than the illness it is preventing.

Measles is a great example of how vaccinations benefit the population. Some people bring the measles disease back into the United States and those that are not vaccinated can acquire the disease and spread it to others who are not vaccinated. This disease kills about three out of 1,000 people in the United States, which could be prevented if everyone was vaccinated.

HPV is another virus that can become deadly, especially when it comes to cervical cancer. It is estimated that 12,000 women battle cervical cancer each year and it is thought the HPV is the culprit. HPV is the most commonly sexually transmitted disease in America, so preventing HPV by vaccination is a huge benefit for the population. What has many parents alarmed is whether or not the vaccination is really safe because they are not sure if they can trust the CDC. For more information on vaccinations, please visit the CDC website.

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