“Vaccination is one of the best ways parents can protect their infants from 14 serious childhood diseases before age 2,” said Janet Eberhart, immunization coordinator for the 10-county Northwest Georgia Public Health district, in a press release. “Vaccinating your infant is the best way to protect them from serious illnesses like whooping cough and measles. We urge parents to speak with their pediatrician or healthcare provider and make sure their infant is up to date on their vaccinations.”
In an interview with The Daily Tribune News, Eberhart said about 95 percent of parents have their children vaccinated, as observed when auditing day care facilities within the 10-county region.
“I think it’s important for parents to educate themselves on the facts on vaccines. There are so many websites out there that have inaccurate or false information, and it’s scary to parents,” Eberhart said. “We want to protect our children ... but then when you hear all these negative things you’re hesitant about [vaccinations].
“... When vaccinating, not only are parents protecting their children, but they’re protecting their family and friends and people in the community that may have medical reasons that they can’t get vaccinated. We also have so many people traveling these days ..., and in the [United Kingdom] they’re having a major outbreak of measles and mumps. If people travel and they come back here and they don’t have their vaccinations and if younger children, especially, become exposed to some of these people who have been traveling, they’re at high risk of contracting [an illness] and you never know when you’re going to come into contact with someone who has been overseas.”
She added, “It’s important to remember that, yes, we don’t see these diseases as much because vaccines have done such a great job, but because more people have either been not vaccinating [their children] or have a delayed [vaccination] schedule, that diseases like Pertussis (whooping cough) and mumps, we’re starting to see more cases of them.”
According to a press release by NWGA Public Health, “In 2012, the United States saw an increase in the number of whooping cough cases reported with approximately 44,810 cases being reported, including 18 deaths. The majority of these deaths were among infants younger than 3 months of age. Similar to U.S. trends, Georgia saw an increase in whooping cough cases with approximately 321 cases being reported. However, Georgia had no pertussis-related deaths in 2012.”
Eberhart cited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website, www.cdc.gov, as a resource for information regarding when a child should receive a vaccination and side effects associated with such vaccinations. For example, according to the website, “Two doses given at least four weeks apart are recommended for children aged 6 months through 8 years of age who are getting a flu vaccine for the first time and for some other children in this age group. Two doses of HepA vaccine are needed for lasting protection. The first dose of HepA vaccine should be given between 12 months and 23 months of age. The second dose should be given 6 to 18 months later. HepA vaccination may be given to any child 12 months and older to protect against HepA. Children and adolescents, who did not receive the HepA vaccine and are at high risk, should be vaccinated against HepA.”
She said that while it is common for children to have a fever following a vaccine, the elevated temperature shouldn’t initially concern parents.
“Once it gets high, I’d say 102, 103 [degrees], they would need to contact their health care provider, but some fever is going to be common after some vaccinations because you are eliciting an immune response, just as if you were exposed to the virus or bacteria in normal life,” Eberhart said. “The point of vaccines is to illicit that response without all the side effects and suffering of the symptoms as if you did get exposed to the virus or bacteria.”
Eberhart said while there have been attempts to correlate vaccinations with autism, nothing has been proven regarding a relationship between the two at this point.
“There have been numerous studies to find a link between autism and vaccines and there has been no link found,” Eberhart said.
For an appointment with the Bartow County Health Department, call 770-383-1920. Walk-in appointments will be available from 8 to 10 a.m.