August is National Immunization Awareness month, and there is no better time than the back-to-school season to remind families to immunize their children against childhood diseases that are now easily preventable. In fact, people of all ages can protect their health with a flu vaccine and others recommended by your health care provider. Many adults remain unvaccinated because they are unaware or misinformed about the need for vaccines beyond childhood. Immunization is our best defense against serious, sometimes deadly diseases.
As a father, I believe that it’s not just common sense and good parenting, it’s for the good of our communities. Thousands of adults and children in the United States die each year from diseases that they could have been immunized against. As parents and as citizens, we have an obligation to create what epidemiologists call “herd immunity” that protects not only children too young to be vaccinated and others who are vulnerable, but shields our society at large from diseases that have been largely eliminated over the last century. I remember all too well as a child wondering who would be stricken next with polio. Yet, because vaccination rates are currently not as high as they could and should be, we are now seeing a resurgence in some diseases.
In a way, we are victims of our own success. Because there are so many people who have not experienced these diseases, they have forgotten how much harm they can cause to the unvaccinated. It troubles me greatly that some parents believe the unfounded anti-vaccination views of a few celebrities, instead of listening to their own doctor and to scientific evidence.
So this month, honor the medical pioneers who have made the world a safer place, forget about the debunked theory that there is a link between vaccines and conditions such as autism, and immunize your loved ones. You’ll be glad you did.
GET THE FACTS:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/
Immunization Action Coalition — http://www.immunize.org/
The Immunization Partnership — http://www.immunizeusa.org/
U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services — http://www.hhs.gov/nvpo/
Vaccines.Gov — http://www.vaccines.gov/