I recently took my daughter for her 9-month immunizations. I have to admit, as I looked around the waiting room filled with runny noses and coughs, I was a nervous mother. I desperately wanted to shield Stella from all the germs swirling around the room, especially given how vulnerable she was her first few months of life. My eyes darted from the little boy at the fish tank to the toddler fussing in her stroller – were they here for a well-visit…or to check out a mysterious rash?
With all the stories about measles in the news recently, I couldn’t help but wonder if the children around us had been vaccinated. Because my daughter will not get her MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine for 3 more months, she is still susceptible to becoming infected. Those who choose to forgo vaccinations are putting everyone around them at risk (namely, those who are too young, or too sick to be vaccinated). The mama bear in me was coming out again…
This week, we’re celebrating National Public Health Week, a nationwide effort to empower people of all ages to take control of their health, and in turn, improve the health of families. It also gives public health professionals the opportunity to engage in conversations with patients about planning for a healthy future.
One of the initiatives set forth during National Public Health Week is “Be Healthy from the Start.” Embracing healthy habits from the very beginning is vital to improving the health of our communities as a whole – and that absolutely includes immunization.
Babies who are immunized on schedule are protected against a host of vaccine-preventable diseases, many of which are currently making a comeback. Vaccinations – and education about vaccinations – are part of the foundation of public health.
Which is why – even through my nerves — I felt a sense of pride as I sat with my daughter at her doctor’s visit. It felt wonderful knowing I was contributing to my daughter’s health and well-being, and protecting her from possibly debilitating diseases later in life. The injections she was about to receive were not just another “9 month milestone” box to check, they were a big step toward a brighter, safer and healthier future.
The moral of the story? Being healthy from the start includes vaccinating from the start. It’s a simple commitment with a significant payoff – a healthy life for our kids.
Follow National Public Health Week happenings on Twitter: @NPHW