August is National Immunization month and what better time to make sure your baby, child, tween, teen, or even adult family members are immunized?
pertussis (whooping cough) outbreaks across the country, and now outbreaks of measles in several states, the importance of vaccinating is paramount.
Vaccines have been proven to prevent disease, but in order for them to be effective the majority of the population must be protected. By vaccinating upwards of 90 percent of the population, the entire "herd" community is protected. When vaccine rates dip below this threshold, a disease such as measles or whooping cough can cause illness, not just isolated to one person but spread to those who have not been immunized or those who have lapsed immunizations and whose immunity has weakened.
This scenario seems to be part of the case for pertussis, as the adult population had not been vaccinated against pertussis for many years. It's now evident and recommended that adults, as well as children, receive a booster dose of pertussis in the form of a TdaP vaccine. That means ALL adults.
As summer comes to an end, I know that winter illnesses and busy pediatric offices are just around the corner. Every day, parents ask me, why does my child get a cold, a cough, or a fever and vomiting? That's because we don't yet have vaccines for the common cold or for norovirus, enterovirus or adenovirus. Those vaccines may be available one day. However, we do have vaccines for rotavirus (winter-time vomiting and diarrhea), measles, chickenpox, and influenza.
The great news is that the flu vaccine for 2013-2014 is now quadrivalent, which means that there are four strains of flu in the vaccine (two for flu A and two for flu B). This should provide even greater protection.
So, as you're getting the kids ready for school and immunized, think ahead about flu vaccine, too. Doses are already arriving in our office and we'll be vaccinating all during the fall in hopes of keeping more illness at bay this winter. The best protection against disease continues to be vaccines. Spread the word, not the disease!
(Dr. Sue Hubbard is an award-winning pediatrician, medical editor and media host. "The Kid's Doctor" TV feature can be seen on more than 90 stations across the U.S. Submit questions at http://www.kidsdr.com.)