By: Marian Michaels, MD, MPH, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC’s Division of Infectious Diseases
Summer is going by quickly! While it is hard to believe, it is time to start thinking about getting your children ready for the school year and is the perfect time to get your child’s vaccines updated. Getting vaccinated is one of the easiest and best ways to protect your child from many viruses and bacteria that cause illness and can even be fatal.
Before the vaccine against Haemophilus influenza type B was introduced, more than 20,000 children a year were hospitalized with bacteria in their blood stream or meningitis due to this infection. Now, we almost never see it. In fact, most causes of serious meningitis have been prevented by the vaccines we give to our infants and children.
Some diseases are still with us though, such as whooping cough. While the numbers of children with whooping cough are thousands less than before we had vaccines, it is still seen too frequently. This is partially because too many people are refusing vaccines with the mistaken belief that they are protecting their children, when in fact, they are putting them in harm’s way when they refuse to vaccinate. In addition, they keep the bacteria circulating, so even families that do vaccinate their children are at risk for disease.
While no vaccine works 100 percent of the time, we know that there is no protection if you do not get vaccinated. Vaccines remain the safest and best way to protect your child’s health by preventing disease in the first place.
Finally, don’t forget that schools have the right to send a child home if they are not vaccinated or do not have an excuse. Call your healthcare provider today to see if your child needs to have his or her vaccines updated. In addition, the Allegheny County Health Department provides vaccines as well on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Wednesday from 1 to 8 p.m.
If you have questions about vaccines, please check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and simply type in the vaccine you want to learn more about.
We in the Division of Infection Diseases at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC will always keep you updated about vaccines as well throughout the year.
Have a wonderful summer and stay healthy!