In our community, immunizations play a critical role in keeping diseases from interfering with a healthy and productive lifestyle. When children and adults receive immunizations, they are not only protecting themselves from becoming ill, but everyone around them. It may seem of little significance, but by choosing to immunize (stopping the spread of serious diseases) we are caring for ourselves, our family, our friends, and community in general.
To that end, consider the polio epidemic which reached a peak in the 1940s and 1950s. According to the World Health Organization there is an estimated 10 to 20 million survivors worldwide living with varying degrees of paralysis. Today, individuals can protect themselves from polio by receiving its corresponding vaccination. Such vaccines have been administered for polio since 1950. Due to the widespread availability and administration of the polio vaccine over the years, the disease has become extremely rare. In the United States this is largely due to the fact that the vaccine is required for all infants.
Speaking of all preventable diseases that have respective vaccines, the list is quite extensive. For persons aged 0-18 the following schedule is recommended:
Adults, beginning at age 19, also have a recommended schedule for vaccinations. While the following list may be less exhaustive than the former, it is no less important.
You will notice that the most important immunizations include diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (DTaP), measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), Polio, Hepatitis B, Varicella (Chickenpox), and Hepatitis A. Not surprisingly, these vaccines are the standard for minimum immunization requirements for children to begin school in the United States.
Despite these recommendations, there is a growing opinion that vaccines are no longer important or even necessary. While it is true that some diseases are very rare in the US now, the infectious agents that cause those diseases are still around. To say it simply, by keeping up on immunizations, all of us play a role in keeping these diseases at bay.
It is important that you schedule an appointment with your health care provider should you have any questions about vaccinations and/or find yourself or your children in need of specific vaccines. By assuring that you and your family are up to date on immunizations, our community can continue to remain healthy and free from serious diseases.