Erica Red Corn, MD, Pediatrician at Olathe Health Pediatrics – Olathe Medical Park, discusses the importance of childhood immunizations.
WHAT ROLE DOES AN IMMUNIZATION PLAY IN THE SAFETY AND WELL-BEING OF A CHILD?
Following the routine schedule for childhood immunizations provides your child with protection from a wide array of illnesses and related complications of those illnesses, including death. Vaccines are a vital part of protecting your child and keeping them healthy.
WHAT ARE SOME COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT IMMUNIZATION?
It is important to educate yourself on issues pertaining to your child’s health and remain their advocate. There is a large amount of misinformation available in print and on the internet regarding immunizations. Some common misconceptions about childhood immunizations include:
- “Immunizations cause autism.” The origin of this false claim was from a 1998 article published in the Journal Lancet. The author of this article subsequently admitted that he falsified the data and he had his medical license taken away. Many subsequent studies have shown no link between autism and childhood immunizations and that article has since been retracted.
- “If all other children are immunized, my child doesn’t need to be.” Leaving your child unprotected against a vaccine preventable illness is not a risk worth taking. A single exposure to such an illness could lead to an otherwise preventable cause of infertility (due to lack of immunity and exposure to Mumps); a brain infection, such as meningitis or encephalitis, deafness, or death (due to lack of immunity and exposure to Hib, Strep Pneumonia, Measles or others); lifelong liver disease, liver failure and/or liver cancer (due to lack of immunity and exposure to Hepatitis B); or cervical cancer (due to lack of immunity and exposure to HPV).
- “Immunizations contain toxic chemicals.” Many of the things that have been listed as being toxic are not found at all in vaccines or are also found in other common foods or environmental exposures. One example is aluminum, which is present in some vaccines. In the first six months of life, infants will receive twice as much aluminum from breast milk as they will from vaccines and almost ten times as much if they are formula fed.
- “Immunizations are too expensive.” Preventive services, such as immunizations, are covered by insurance and if you don’t have health insurance the Johnson County or Miami County Health Department are great resources for standard immunizations at little or no cost.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO FOLLOW THE ROUTINE SCHEDULE?
Following the routine immunization schedule gives your child the most protection with the fewest shots and provides this protection at a time when they are at highest risk for many of the illnesses covered, following a delayed schedule delays providing them immunity. The recommended schedule has also been extensively studied to ensure the greatest response to vaccines. Some vaccines work better when given in combination with other vaccines, ensuring that your child has the best possible chance of protection against illness.
The most important job of any parent is loving and caring for your child and preparing them for a long, healthy life. Your partner in this task is your child’s healthcare provider and they are a tremendous reference for immunization-related questions or concerns.
To learn more about Dr. Red Corn, or to make an appointment with her, click here.