Not vaccinating puts others at risk

By Amy Reineke

As a parent, you want to do what’s best for your child. You know the importance of car seats and baby gates, but did you know one of the best ways to protect your child is to make sure he has his vaccinations?
Here’s some alarming news: The number of young children not fully vaccinated for preventable diseases has steadily increased over the last decade. More parents are claiming nonmedical exemptions from routine vaccinations, leaving their child, the child’s classmates and other children in the community vulnerable to diseases.
You have to be of a certain age to remember what it was like when childhood diseases kept parents in constant fear that a trip to a public pool could end with a crippling polio infection. Measles was so common, you were expected to contract it at some point.
The decision not to vaccinate impacts more than just a single child. Vaccines are key to what is called “herd immunity.” When 80-90 percent of a population is vaccinated, the chain of infection is disrupted. If the level of vaccination in the community declines, disease can gain a new foothold.
The disease spreads, and unvaccinated children and adults, including those too young to be vaccinated and some people who are vaccinated, can be infected.
Immunizations can save your child’s life. Because of advances in medical science, a child can be protected against more diseases than ever before.
Some diseases that once injured or killed thousands have been eliminated completely and others are close to being gone – primarily due to safe, effective vaccines.
Vaccine is safe and effective. The most comprehensive studies and reviews have not found a link between vaccines and autism. The American Academy of Pediatrics, Institute of Medicine, National Institute of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other federal agencies agree that vaccines are not responsible for the number of children now recognized to have autism.
Immunization protects future generations. If we vaccinate now, parents in the future may be able to trust that diseases like polio and measles won’t infect, cripple or kill children.
Amy Reineke is a health educator with Douglas County Public Health. Public Health’s mission is to prevent, promote and protect the health and environment of residents.

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