Many diseases today are completely avoidable with vaccination. Minnesota law requires all students who are enrolled in grades kindergarten through 12 to show they have received immunizations or provide an exemption.
In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with the American Academy of Pediatrics has developed an immunization schedule for parents to help them understand what vaccinations are required at specific ages from birth through 18 years of age.
Prior to the start of this school year, parents should schedule an annual physical for their children, ensure they are up-to-date on their immunization schedule, record the immunizations or exemptions on the form provided by the school district or the Minnesota Department of Health, and send it to the school district.
Why do we need to receive vaccines?
Disease outbreaks like Measles are regularly in the news as there are populations living in the U.S. that have not been properly vaccinated against this disease and have contracted the disease. To understand the benefits of the measles vaccination, it’s important first to understand what measles is and its risks.
Measles is a viral illness. It spreads rapidly to non-immunized people. It incubates in the infected person for about 10 days before symptoms appear. The first symptoms are high fever, fatigue, cough and conjunctivitis (pink eye). These symptoms last about two to three days, followed by a rash that develops on the face, spreading to the trunk and arms. The infection usually resolved in about two to three days after the rash appears.
This disease is completely avoidable with vaccination, which prevents the complications that develop from this disease. About one in 1,000 people who are infected with Measles will have the virus spread into the brain and spinal cord. This may lead to brain damage, seizures and even death. The next most common complication is bacterial pneumonia. This can be extremely serious as well. It can also cause complications in women who are pregnant.
It’s okay to ask questions about vaccines
Today, parents are generally very well-informed, and regularly ask their family health provider questions regarding vaccines and side effects. In the last several years, parents have become much more comfortable with the idea that the complications of the disease are far greater than the side effects of the vaccines themselves. Side effects to the measles vaccine include muscle soreness, a rash around the injection site and some mild flu-like symptoms. In general, these side effects are easily managed and often treatable with ibuprofen or Tylenol.
However, the complications of the diseases that immunizations prevent are far, far greater than the side effects of the vaccine. The complications from contracting the disease can be devastating, life-changing and often last the person’s lifetime.
Why is it important to follow immunization schedules?
The immunization schedules recommended by the CDC are designed to be given when children are most vulnerable to the complications of the infection. Deviations and delay from the schedule only leave children unprotected when they are most vulnerable to the dangers of these diseases.
Patients are encouraged to come in, sit down and discuss their concerns directly with their doctor or any of our Ridgeview health providers.