Childhood immunization: The best way to protect your little one
By Katie Minor
On top of the regular parenting responsibilities, the COVID-19 pandemic has made the past two years seem even more challenging for families.
One troubling example of the pandemic’s effect on families with young children has been a significant drop in routine childhood vaccinations.
This is probably a result of two years’ worth of public health recommendations to stay at home. This is also a factor for why many people have neglected their own routine medical and dental checkups, especially during the early months of the pandemic.
This year, April 24-30 is National Infant Immunization Week. This observation is part of the World Health Organization’s World Immunization Week: an initiative to promote immunization, advance equity and universal access to vaccination and enable cooperation on cross-border immunization.
Parents, this is a great opportunity to think about how your child’s routine medical needs might have been disrupted within the past few years and to make sure you are up to date on every immunization your child needs.
We have now reached the point where COVID-19 vaccines are available to everyone 5 and older, but there are so many more immunizations that are important for your child.
For all you new parents out there: You can protect your baby from 14 serious childhood diseases — such as whooping cough and measles — simply by making sure they have all their recommended vaccinations by age 2.
It can be hard to keep track of so many immunizations, especially on top of other daily parenting responsibilities. But it’s important to stay on track. The CDC provides a helpful immunization schedule for children and adolescents.
Of course, it is also important to often communicate with your child’s pediatrician, your No. 1 source of information for your child’s health needs.
National Infant Immunization Week is also an opportunity to emphasize just how important childhood immunization is. The COVID-19 pandemic has unfortunately led to skepticism about vaccines and their effectiveness, but vaccines have shown to be one of the most successful and cost-effective public health tools to prevent death and illnesses.
In fact, among children born during 1994-2018, vaccination will prevent an estimated 419 million illnesses, 26.8 million hospitalizations, and 936,000 deaths over their lifetimes.
Immunization is a community effort — something that will only work if we are all in it together. As part of your community, Monongalia County Health Department can help. You can make an appointment for immunizations through MCHD Clinical Services by calling 304-598-5119.
And don’t forget to consult MCHD WIC for other types of health services for children. MCHD WIC provides nutrition and breastfeeding counseling and food packages to pregnant and postpartum people and children up to the age of 5 who qualify financially.
Yes, you’ve probably heard the message countless times, but it cannot be understated: vaccines are safe and very effective. We all want to see today’s children safe and protected, so protect your children today by making sure they are vaccinated.