Letter to the Editor

Immunization Week

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Dear Editor,

National Infant Immuniza-tion Week is being observed April 21-28.

Vaccines were developed to protect individuals from dangerous and sometimes deadly diseases. Common childhood diseases, experienced by our senior generation, no longer exist in the US or are now in the decline. While we may have few or no cases of some of these diseases circulating in our country it does occur in the rest of the world, so "it is just a plane ride away." Vaccines can protect individuals from Diphtheria, Tetanus, Whoop-ing cough, Hepatitis A and B, Meningitis, Pneumococcal infection, Influenza, Polio, Rota Virus, Human Papillomavirus, Measles, Mumps, Rubella and Chicken Pox.

Many misconceptions still exist about vaccine safety and parents are sometimes confused in sorting out conflicting information. Occasionally "so called" scientific information found on TV, the Internet and in books and magazines contradict information provided by health care professionals. For instance, concerns that have been brought to the forefront regarding vaccine safety, and the conclusions reached by carefully performed studies, clearly disprove the notion that autism is caused by the MMR vaccine or Thimerosal, an ethyl mercury-containing preservative. A wealth of evidence now confirms that vaccines do not cause allergic or autoimmune diseases.

Because few people have the scientific background in microbiology, immunology and epidemiology and lack the statistics to separate good scientific studies from poor ones, both parents and physicians benefit from the expert guidance of specialists in these disciplines.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (www.cdc.gov/nip), The Am-erican Academy of Pediatrics and the Infectious Disease Society of America www.im-munizationinfo.org) have a committee of experts comprised of scientists, clinicians and other caregivers who determine whether scientific studies are carefully performed and published in reputable journals. They are a great source of information to parents and healthcare providers through their websites.

Because vaccines are given to people who are not sick, they are held to the highest standards of safety. All vaccines have possible side effects, most being mild. Unfortunately, choosing to avoid vaccines is not a risk-free choice. It's actually much riskier to not get the vaccine and take your chances with the disease. Discontinuing immunizations would lead to a devastating increase of preventable hospitalizations and deaths.

I strongly urge you to get your children immunized, both for their protection and for the protection of others.


Margie Swanda, RN, Director

Red Willow County Health Department

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