Don’t Forget to Immunize Your Children

Don’t Forget to Immunize Your Children
Aug. 82022

In our concern to protect ourselves, our friends and relatives, and especially our children from the horrors of the pandemic, we have to remember that there are still plenty of other problems we have to pay attention to. As the Danbury area is emerging from the pandemic, we are gathering again, going out, and having a good time in groups. That means that people are more likely to spread other infections that were mostly silent during the time we were constantly wearing masks and isolating ourselves and our families. This was a great year for avoiding the flu, which we don't really worry about during the summer months in North America. But people are going to get colds and pneumonia and skin infections.

My concern is that people are also not being cautious about preventing the diseases that they may never have seen. Pediatricians know that constant vigilance is necessary to prevent the diseases that have killed millions in countries around the world but are actually preventable. I want to remind the readers of the Tribuna that only one infectious disease – smallpox – has been completely eradicated. For all the others we have to do the same thing we are trying to do with Covid-19 and that is immunize until we have herd immunity. Simply put herd immunity means that so many people have been immunized that the people who can't or won't be immunized are unlikely to be exposed.

Perhaps someone in your family has told you about measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox, or meningitis. Maybe someone's great grandfather had diphtheria or tetanus. Could a child in your family have had pertussis?  All of these diseases can be prevented by immunization. And there are others, too. Unfortunately, not all of these infections can be avoided by herd immunity. For the viral illnesses like measles and polio there is actually the possibility of wiping out the disease in the next few years if everyone around the world cooperates. For the bacterial diseases like pneumococcal pneumonia and HIB meningitis only a vaccine can give your child the chance to avoid the terrible outcomes I saw years ago when we had no vaccine.

School is out. People are thinking about summer fun and leaving the pandemic behind. I don't mean to ruin your good time by reminding you that it is important to think about all the obvious things we do to protect our children: seatbelts, sunscreen, bike helmets, watching our children when they swim and keeping them away from any body of water unless they are supervised. It is just as important to continue being a good parent by calling your children's pediatrician to schedule the vaccines that make so many dangerous diseases preventable.

Robert B. Golenbock, MD

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