Prather Pediatric and Allergy Center - Ask Doctor Brent

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Title: Immunization Week - September 21 - 29, 1991

Category: Child Care


September 21st kicks off Immunization Week in the United

States. The American Academy of Pediatrics, along with several other national organizations and Congress are trying hard to get the word out that we need to better immunize our children. One of the immunizations which is receiving a lot of attention is the measles immunization. Why is this so important? The reason is measles has been rising particularly over the past three years in our country. In fact, there were 27,000 cases of measles in the United States this last year including several deaths. We have found that the single immunization at 15 months does not adequately immunize the general population and so now we are encouraging all children to receive a second booster prior to starting school.

This is ideally given just before starting kindergarten or first grade but can be given at any age from 4 to 21. In fact, colleges are also requiring that anyone starting college show proof of having received a second measles immunization. The measles immunization is given as part of the measles, mumps and rubella which is more cost effective and also protects against mumps and German measles.

The other immunizations which are vital to give to all children are the DPT and Oral Polio vaccine as well as the HiB vaccine. These are given at 2, 4 and 6 months of age and 15 or 18 months. At 15 months, the first MMR is also given. Why are these vaccines important? The reason is obvious: we still have the threat of diphtheria, whooping cough and tetanus in our country as well as polio. These vaccines have proven safe and have been proven to protect life and prevent disease effectively.

The HiB vaccine, which was introduced a few years ago, is especially effective since it is made from the cell wall of the Haemophilus influenza B bacteria and has minimal or no side effects. Among all these vaccines it is possibly the most important since we still see meningitis and other HiB life threatening infections so commonly in our society. If all infants in our society were immunized, we could literally wipe out 99% of these dreaded diseases in our country. How wonderful it would be if we never had another case of childhood meningitis in the world.

Health Units throughout Louisiana give all of these vaccines on schedule and charge $5 per vaccine. Most pedia-tricians and family doctors also provide these vaccines to any patient requesting them. The cost is higher because the cost to the doctor is quite a bit higher than through the Health Unit. If any of your children or friends' children are behind on any of these vaccines, please be reminded this week, September 21 through September 29, to get caught up. Let's be a step ahead of these diseases rather than having to fight to treat them later. If you have any questions regarding these vaccines you can call 1-800-525-6789 or talk with your pediatrician or family doctor.