November 13, 2016. The day my entire life changed. I gave birth to sweetest little human being. He was 7lbs and 11 ounces. He definitely made his grand entrance into the world. Shortly after getting settled in our room, doctor’s began coming and going, wheeling him in and out, bringing him back each time sound asleep. He was constantly being measured, poked, and prodded, having all kinds of test ran that they do for newborns. I’m still getting the bills for all those tests too! However, before we left the hospital, I was asked if I wanted him to be vaccinated for Hepatitis B. I did not know exactly what that was and did not know if it was beneficial for my newborn. Upon taking the time out to think about it, and research it on the internet, I decided that I would go for any vaccinations we were offered because I wanted the healthiest baby possible. He has now grown into a drooly, happy-feet, cheesy, 5 month, ball of cuteness. Every couple of months, we go to the Pediatrician and we sit there while he gets his routine vaccinations.
This week is World Immunization Week (April 24-28). In recent years, there have been a number of websites and people on social media that discredit vaccines and their effectiveness. Therefore, when new parents and parents-to-be come across this information, their perception is warped by few and far between videos that show adverse effects of certain vaccinations. The World Health Organization is partnering with countries across the globe to educate and inform people about the importance of vaccinations from infancy and beyond, and inform parents on how to find credible information.
When immunization rates are high, the wider community is protected including infants who are too young to receive their vaccines, older adults at risk for serious diseases, and people who take medication that lowers their immune systems.
- Immunization prevents illness, disability, and death from vaccine-preventable diseases including cervical cancer, diphtheria, hepatitis B, measles, mumps, pertussis (whooping cough), pneumonia, polio, rotavirus diarrhea, rubella, and tetanus.
- Immunization currently averts an estimated 2 to 3 million deaths every year. An additional 1.5 million deaths could be avoided, however, if global vaccination coverage improves.
- An estimated 19.4 million infants worldwide are still missing out on basic vaccines.
Unfortunately, due to unbalanced and misleading information, fear is struck in the hearts of parents everywhere.
PAUSE: Remember that season of American Horror Story: Hotel when a lady refused to vaccinate her son and he caught the measles and almost died? Then, a vampire took it upon themselves to “cure” him, so he went to school and turned all of the other kids into vampires, along with giving them the measles? That’s a true horror story. Of course, in real life, a child will not turn into a vampire and go to school to “spread” it, but it is a scary reality that we face when children are not vaccinated and still attend school with other children.
To filter the information that parents and parents-to-be receive about vaccinations, WHO has developed a Vaccine Safety Net, a global network of vaccine safety websites targeted to inform all parents, caregivers, and healthcare professionals about vaccines with accurate and trustworthy information. This network is also gaining a following on social media, in order to produce accurate information on our social media feeds, and creating a way to prevent misleading accounts from producing inaccurate content.
Here are 12 vaccines your child needs
- Hepatitis B – Protects against an incurable, liver-infecting virus.
- DTap – Protects against diphtheria which is a germ that can form a gray or black film in the throat. It also protects against tetanus and pertussis (whooping cough)
- MMR – Protects against measles, mumps, and rubella.
- Chickenpox – This is a highly contagious rash caused by the varicella virus. It is more dangerous for adults who did not have immunity from the vaccine or did not have it during their childhood. It can also cause shingles (Yikes!).
- Hib – Haemophilus influenza type b is a bacterium that causes meningitis.
- Polio – Because of this vaccine, there are no more cases of polio in the United States. Polio can cause paralysis or death.
- Pneumococcal conjugate (PCV) – This vaccine, known as PCV13, protects against 13 types of Streptococcus pneumoniae, which are bacteria that can cause meningitis, pneumonia, ear infections, blood, infections, or worse.
- Influenza (flu)
- Rotavirus (RV) – Protects against a virus that is the most common cause of severe diarrhea and vomiting in children. About 55,000 children in the U.S. alone were hospitalized each year due to rotavirus before the vaccine was licensed in 2006.
- Hepatitis A – This is a viral infection that affects the liver, and can cause symptoms such as fever, tiredness, jaundice, and loss of appetite. Hepatitis A can be caught by children sharing food or drinks, or putting contaminated food or objects in their mouths.
- Meningococcal conjugate (MCV4) – This vaccine protects against meningococcal bacteria which can infect the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord. (This vaccine is for children 11 and up).
- Human papillomavirus (HPV) – This vaccine is given to girls ages 9-26. It protects against two sexually transmitted types of HPV that causes cervical cancer.
So, you may ask, should I get my newborn vaccinates? The answer is “YES!” If we stop vaccination, diseases will return. Infectious diseases that have been otherwise eradicated, will quickly reappear.