December 17, 2017

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Immunizations are Important for Everyone

Immunizations are Important for EveryoneSmall Pox, Polio, Whooping Cough, Tuberculosis, and Measles are all diseases that once plagued our ancestors with severe illness, lifelong disability and even death.  Do you have a family member that was affected by one of these illnesses long ago?  Do you choose to vaccinate yourself and your children from diseases such as these?

Immunizations prevent infectious diseases

Immunizations prevent infectious diseases that years ago, before vaccines were even developed, were a common cause of illness and even death.  What we are faced with today is that a majority of our population hasn’t experienced those types of dire situations or has forgotten what it was like years ago before immunizations. People are starting to choose not to vaccinate or to delay vaccination and are not following the recommended schedule.

Vaccines help prevent illness and loss of work, but most importantly prevent injury or even death due to disease.  Immunizations are not just about the individual but are also about how they affect the population in general and the risk to the population.  If the immunization rate stays above 90%, meaning 90% of the population is getting vaccinated, you may be able to “get by” without getting necessary vaccines.  The reason for this is that there are enough other people living in the community that are immunized so the disease doesn’t spread; this is called “herd immunity”. When that rate drops below 80%, then you start seeing epidemics because there just aren’t enough people out there that have been vaccinated to help keep the virus from spreading.

Right now there are some illnesses for which only 85% of the U.S. population is getting the necessary vaccines. We are seeing a shift in the mindset of people towards going against recommended immunizations for a variety of reasons.  This has happened in other countries such as Japan and England where they have dealt with outbreaks of Pertussis (whooping cough) because the immunization rate dropped below 80% of the population.  They experienced epidemics of disease and their children suffered.

Immunizations as recommended

David Detert, MD

David Detert, MD, Family Medicine, ACMC-Litchfield

Immunizations should be done on time, as recommended, because our goal is to get infants, children, teens and adults immunized from disease as early as possible.  Once you start missing doses because you are trying to spread out the vaccine schedule, doses get missed. When you get out of the age group where the vaccine is recommended, you tend to forget about it and end up un-immunized or partially immunized.  If you make a choice to opt out of getting immunizations all-together, you are taking a chance on your health or your child’s health.

You might hear people say “it’s OK we just don’t have outbreaks like that anymore”.  What you have to remember is that our frame of reference now is during a time where we have had the benefit of being an immunized population; compare that to years ago, before vaccines were developed, and it’s a different story.

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  1. […] have some memory of disease outbreaks such as measles or whooping cough, writes Dr. David Detert in a recent entry at the Discover ACMC blog. “What we are faced with today is that a majority of our population […]