Vaccines protect kids against unseen dangers

Car seat? Check.

Baby gate? Check.

Toxic products out of reach? Check.

Parents take many steps to protect children from dangers they can see. With immunizations, they can also protect children against dangers that go unseen.

“Because of vaccines, children survive many more diseases than they used to,” said Safina Koreishi, MD and medical director for Columbia Pacific CCO. “But because parents have hardly ever seen them, they may think these diseases are gone, but they are not.”

When enough of a population is unvaccinated, as happened in the measles outbreak in Washington and Oregon in 2019, it is a reminder of the important advantage that vaccines give our kids.

Babies come into the world with many of their mother’s immunities. They fight off thousands of germs every day. But they still need protection against serious viruses and bacteria, often carried by other kids.

“One thing we see is that unvaccinated school-age kids and teens carry diseases to newborns at home. One of the most dangerous of these diseases is pertussis (or whooping cough)” said Dr. Koreishi. “Pertussis is preventable if all children are up-to-date on their shots. Parents and caregivers of newborns should also get vaccinated with a TdaP vaccine to protect new babies.”

By age 2, a child can be immunized against 14 diseases. Vaccines make children immune to a disease without having to suffer it, or risk being harmed from it.

“Vaccines are a safe and highly effective way to protect your child,” she said. “Be sure to get complete series of vaccines for full immunization.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control, infants and toddlers are scheduled for immunizations (vaccines) about every two to three months up to age 2.

Because vaccines are such a great prevention tool, most health plans (including the Oregon Health Plan and CPCCO) do not require a copay for immunizations. The vaccines can be timed with well-baby visits, when doctors also check to see children are on track in their development.

A century ago, there was only one vaccine: smallpox, which has been eliminated from the world by a successful vaccination effort. Now children can get protection from polio, whooping cough, chicken pox, measles, flu and more.

As parents are checking their child safety list, they should be sure to include immunizations.

“This is the best protection your child can have,” said Dr. Koreishi. “Talk to your doctor about your immunization schedule and stay on track.



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