If you type “baby safety” into the search bar of Amazon.com, thousands of items appear – baby gates, outlet plugs, cabinet locks and SO much more. As parents, we spend time researching “the best of the best” for our children. We keep our baby’s car seat rear-facing in the car, and put him to sleep on his (or her) back, because our pediatrician told us it was the safest. But, as far as safety goes, one of the best ways to protect our babies is to make sure they are up to date on ALL of their vaccinations. How much time has the average parent devoted to researching that topic?
This week we celebrate the 20th anniversary of National Infant Immunization week. So, to highlight the importance of protecting infants from vaccine-preventable diseases and supporting healthy communities, I thought we’d go back to the basics. Here are five important reasons to vaccinate your infant, from a mom’s perspective:
1. Immunizations can save your child’s life.
Many diseases that once were extremely dangerous (or fatal) to thousands of children have been eliminated completely in our country, and others are close to extinction– primarily due to medical advancements, and safe and effective vaccines. As parents, we will go to the ends of the earth to protect our children from harm. Vaccinations are an easy step to giving them the best future possible.
2. Vaccinations are safe and effective.
Each and every vaccine listed as “recommended” by the CDC undergoes rigorous testing and careful review by scientists, doctors, and healthcare professionals. Vaccines undergo far more scrutiny than other pharmaceutical products, and the safety and effectiveness of vaccines are continuously monitored even after the vaccine hits the market. The worst side effects the overwhelming majority of individuals will experience are a little soreness at the injection site, fever or fatigue. And in return, you and your family will be protected from diseases that once used to cause death or disability in thousands of children each year.
3. Immunizing your children protects others around you.
Recently in the United States, vaccine-preventable diseases like measles and pertussis (whooping cough) have been making a comeback. Unfortunately, many people in our country (roughly half a million) are too young or too sick to be immunized, and they have no other choice but to rely on the rest of us for protection. Choosing to vaccinate not only protects your family, but also helps prevent the spread of these diseases to those who cannot protect themselves. See my post on the Tdap and flu vaccines, and how my family members were vaccinated in order to protect my young (and vulnerable) daughter from getting sick in the NICU.
4. Immunizations can save your family time and money.
Vaccine-preventable diseases can result in hospital stays, doctor’s visits, expensive medications, and in more serious cases – disabilities and death. Add in the financial toll of medical bills, lost wages, and time off of work caring for a sick child, it can add up quickly. In comparison, getting vaccinated against these diseases takes no time at all, and is typically covered by insurance. There are even options that provide financial assistance for immunizations to low-income families. Would you rather spend an hour in a doctor’s office every couple of months to vaccinate your infant, or risk spending weeks with them in the hospital fighting a vaccine-preventable disease? The choice seems pretty simple to me.
5. Immunization protects future generations.
If we teach our children the importance and value of immunizations, when they become parents, they will most likely follow suit, protecting their children and those for generations to come. It’s strange for me to think about my future grandchildren (because my daughter is not even a year old) but it is comforting to know that they too will be protected against vaccine-preventable diseases. Vaccines helped to successfully eradicate smallpox off the face of the earth, and we are on the brink of eradicating polio. Thanks to vaccination, diseases that were once commonplace are no longer inevitable for our kids or grandkids. That’s pretty remarkable.
So, when you consider what safety means when it comes to your infant, remember that vaccines are paramount in protecting them from disease, and starting them off on the healthiest foot possible.
Check out our website for more information about vaccines and vaccine-preventable diseases, download immunization schedules and access trusted resources regarding immunizations.