August 4, 2022 by Muriel Sommers
Understanding the Vital Importance of Routine Childhood Vaccinations
A lag in routine vaccinations for children — which are required for attendance at most schools, camps and daycare centers — during the pandemic has been concerning and may result in vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned. Christine C. Marrero, D.O., family medicine physician at Baptist Health Primary Care, provides the following insights for parents to keep in mind regarding their children’s routine vacations.
Dr. Christine C. Marrero:
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” as the old saying goes. This year, millions of children in the U.S. will be returning back to school in August. Due to the close proximity of being in contact with other children, your little one is more susceptible to infectious diseases. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, there has been an increased awareness to hand-washing and reducing contact that could aid in viral transmission. However, there are other safe and effective ways to aid in this.
In the past, children and often adults were susceptible to viruses and bacteria that could have long lasting consequences. Thanks to the advances in science and vaccination, not only are these diseases preventable but they are also safe.
Take for instance, measles. I have often encountered MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine hesitancy from many concerned parents. The main concern regarding the MMR vaccine that plagues many physicians is the rumor that the MMR vaccine causes autism. This comes from a 1998 article that was published in the Lancet medical journal that was later discredited. Despite the several subsequent studies corroborating that the MMR vaccine does not cause autism, this myth persists. MMR vaccines have been found to be highly effective and safe.
However, opting to not receive the MMR vaccine can result in many complications for your little one. Infection with measles brings an increased risk of hospitalization, pneumonia, and death. According to the CDC, 1 child out of every 1,000 who gets measles will develop encephalitis, which is a swelling of the brain that could lead to convulsions, deafness, or intellectual disability.
There is also potential for a long-term complication such as Subacute Sclerosis Panencephalitis (SSPE). While rare, it typically develops 7 to10 years after infection with measles, and it is a fatal disease of the nervous system. Keeping up-to-date with CDC recommended vaccinations can help prevent this and keep those around you safe as well.
As always, any questions and concerns should be discussed with your child’s pediatrician or family physician. Parents are always welcomed and encouraged to discuss risks vs. benefits of vaccination with their medical provider. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the CDC are also excellent references for the proactive parent wishing to empower themselves through education and research.