Vaccinations: The Ultimate Child Protection Plan
As parents, we are constantly concerned about keeping our kids safe and healthy. Car seats, cabinet locks, safety gates, and smoke alarms are all part of our gig as the parents of little ones. What’s missing from that list? Vaccinations!
Vaccines are one of medicine’s greatest achievements. They have drastically reduced infant death and disability caused by preventable disease in the United States and worldwide. Most of us have never seen the diseases that vaccines prevent. Yet it wasn’t that many years ago when a disease like polio was a scary reality for many parents. In fact, Northwest Iowa was hit hard in 1952.
According to a 1953 article from the Sioux City Journal, "Polio marched through Woodbury County last summer in its most ravaging and destructive epidemic of all times." The article also mentioned that the Sioux City Health Department reported 923 polio cases and 53 deaths in 1952. Half of those cases were in children under 12. Just a few years later in 1955, the polio vaccine became available. The good news is that there have been no cases of polio in the United States since 1979. Thank you polio vaccine (and Drs. Salk and Sabin)! However, there are still areas of the world where polio is present and that is why we still vaccinate our infants here. Due to our mobile society, a disease like polio is only a plane ride away!
Measles was another serious disease that nearly every child acquired in the 1950s. Unfortunately, some died from this serious disease. Today, most practicing physicians have never seen a case of measles, thanks to the vaccine. Yet we still see cases of measles pop up causing outbreaks, mainly in areas where vaccination rates are low.
Today, we have been blessed with advances in science that have led to the development of vaccines to protect against 14 diseases before age two! Vaccinating children according to the immunization schedule protects not only the child but also the entire community. Immunization is a shared responsibility between parents and healthcare professionals. High rates of vaccination protect everyone, including the most vulnerable in our communities.
August is National Immunization Awareness Month, an annual observance held to highlight the importance of vaccination for people of all ages. Vaccinations are readily available at many locations including doctor’s offices, pharmacies and public health agencies.
In Clay County, childhood vaccinations are available at Spencer Hospital-Clay County Public Health by calling 712-264-6685 and at Avera Medical Group-Spencer at 712-264-3500.