From the World Health Organization (WHO) website: To underscore the importance of immunization in saving lives and to encourage families to vaccinate their children against deadly diseases, WHO is uniting countries across the globe for a week of vaccination campaigns, public education and information sharing under the umbrella of World Immunization Week.
Kirstin from SquintMom.com has published a couple good posts recently on why immunizing our children is important. Since I'm a nuclear scientist and not a research scientist or a doctor, I've relied heavily on reading credible articles from reputable individuals to make informed decisions about whether or not to immunize Tully. Kirstin's site is really focused on evidence-based parenting, and she made my decisions to vaccinate, especially against diseases like chickenpox and measles, even easier. You can read her full posts on immunizing against these two specific diseases using the links below:
I took Tully in for his one year check-up recently, and he received the Hib, PCV, and MMR vaccines. Dr. Ross stated his preference to wait to give the varicella (chickenpox) vaccine until 15 months. We discussed that Tully was already getting three other shots that day and that if he did have a reaction, it might be difficult to determine which vaccine had caused it. Tully had received Hib and PCV before, so if a reaction was to occur, it would likely be due to MMR for that particular appointment. Waiting to administer varicella until 15 months is still within the common age range it's given (12-15 mos), and it would be easier to identify the cause of any reaction, should one occur. I appreciated Dr. Ross' insight, as I had not given much thought to the number or "new" types of vaccines Tully would be receiving at the same time. I had only read about the efficacy and safety of such vaccines individually.
Below is a list of common vaccines given in the U.S. for the first six years of a child's life. I know I felt a little overwhelmed with the number of vaccines and multiple names and acronyms for each, so hopefully this list is helpful for new or expecting moms.
Vaccine Name (Acronym/Other Name) Brand Name(s)
Diptheria, tetanus, pertussis (DTaP) Daptacel or Infanrix or Tripedia
Haemophilius influenzae type b (Hib) ActHIB or PedvaxHIB or ProHIBiT
Hepatitis A (HAV) Havrix
Hepatitis B (HBV) Engerix-B or Recombivax HB
Influenza (flu shot) Fluzone
Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR)
Meningococcal (MCV4) Menactra or Menveo
Pneumococcal (PCV) Prevnar
Polio (IPV) IPOL or Orimune
Rotavirus (RV) Rotarix or Rotateq
Varicella (VZV or chickenpox) Varivax
I would note that there are several "all-in-one" or combination shots that include two or more of the above. This reduces the number of shots needed per visit and provides the same protection as each individual vaccine.
DTaP/IPV (4-in-1) Kinrix
DTaP/IPV/Hib (5-in-1) Pentacel
DTaP/IPV/Hep B (PDTapHBV) Pediarix
MMR/Varicella (MMRV) ProQuad
I also came across a chart on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, which provides a great graphical representation of when each vaccine is given for the first six years of a child's life. Click the image below to enlarge.
I encourage all moms and dads to do your own research (or find someone like Kirstin to do it for you!) to make informed health decisions for your child. Look for articles published in well-known journals, follow-up on their references, and if you're using online sources, look into whether or not that site has a specific agenda or funding from a particular group. Try not to get caught up in media hype, celebrity campaigns, or peer pressure from parenting groups. Also remember that if you decide not to vaccinate, your decision can affect not only your family but the health of others too. Children who are not immunized can transmit diseases, if there is an outbreak in the community. Non-immunized children can pass along the disease to infants who are too young to be immunized or to those with specific medical conditions (e.g. HIV or leukemia) and already weak immune systems. I think Kirstin said it best at the end of her post on the chickenpox vaccine.
Science Bottom Line:* The varicella (chickenpox) vaccine is less risky than chickenpox infection, making it an essential childhood vaccination. Despite the relative newness of the vaccine, there’s evidence of at least 10 years of protection (studies ongoing). The CDC continues to monitor immunity of vaccinated individuals, and will recommend booster shots for vaccinated individuals if they are determined necessary.
For me, this applies to all of the recommended vaccines in the U.S. The benefits of the vaccines to my child, my family, and our society outweigh the risks of the vaccines themselves. Bloggers are encouraged to post this week to raise awareness on how immunizing saves lives. Feel free to post links below.