Immunization Awareness and Children

by Mary Rains

Mille Lacs Health System

National Immunization Awareness Month is a reminder we all need vaccines throughout our lives. And because back-to-school season is here, it’s the perfect time to make sure your children are up to date on their vaccines.

To celebrate the importance of immunizations for people of all ages – and to make sure children are protected with all the vaccines they need as they go back to school – Mille Lacs Health System is joining with partners nationwide in recognizing August as National Immunization Awareness Month.

Getting children all of the vaccines recommended by CDC’s immunization schedule is one of the most important things parents can do to protect their children from serious diseases. If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to check with your child’s medical provider to find out what vaccines your child needs. “There is an increase in childhood diseases in unvaccinated children, especially measles, which had been eradicated in the US. When children are not vaccinated, they and their friends are at risk of getting that disease,” said Dr. Cathy Donovan, Family Practice Physician at Mille Lacs Health System.

Vaccines protect children, preteens and teens from 16 serious and potentially life-threatening diseases. When children are not vaccinated, they are at increased risk for diseases and can also spread diseases to others in their classrooms and community – including babies who are too young to be fully vaccinated and people with weakened immune systems due to cancer or other health conditions. A recommended immunization 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.

Always think about others if you are on the fence about vaccinating your children. For instance, rubella, which can be vaccinated against with the MMR vaccine, is spread by coughing and sneezing. It is especially dangerous for a pregnant woman and her developing baby. If an unvaccinated pregnant woman gets infected with rubella, she can have a miscarriage or her baby could die just after birth. Also, she can pass the disease to her developing baby who can develop serious birth defects.

Preteens and teens need four vaccines to be protected against serious diseases like the flu and cancers caused by HPV. Schedule an appointment to make sure your children get all the vaccines they need before they go back to school.