With it being National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW), it is a great time to make sure we are promoting, encouraging, educating and reminding parents to have their children immunized. If infants are not immunized the consequences can be severe and in some cases the preventable diseases can even be fatal. It’s easy for us to believe that these preventable diseases are a thing of the past but, as we have seen with the recent cases of measles and pertussis in our community, these diseases still exist.
CHAS offers immunizations through the Vaccines for Children’s program. The program is federally funded and provides vaccinations for children through the age of 18 at no cost.
Infant immunization protects from vaccine-preventable diseases throughout their life and offers protection against the 14 diseases below:
Hepatitis A – A virus that causes liver infection.
Hepatitis B – A virus that causes liver infection. In some cases, Hepatitis B remains in the liver for life and can lead to further complications including liver cancer.
Diphtheria– A potentially fatal condition in which the airways can become blocked, restricting breathing. Also associated with heart problems and paralysis of throat muscles needed for swallowing.
Hib Disease (Haemophilus Influenzae Type b) – A serious disease which can cause meningitis and pneumonia.
Pertussis (whooping cough) – A potentially fatal bacteria that is very contagious with symptoms including persistent violent coughing and choking which can last for weeks. It is particularly worrisome in infants and young children.
Pneumococcal Disease – A potentially fatal bacterial infection which can cause pneumonia.
Polio – A viral infection with possible symptoms of fever, pain, sore throat, head ache and in some cases paralysis and death.
Influenza (flu) – A bacteria that can cause respiratory complications and can result in hospitalization or death. Infants, young children, pregnant women, and the elderly are at higher risk of complications related to influenza.
Measles -A potentially fatal disease caused by a virus whose symptoms include cough, fever and rash. In severe cases, measles can cause brain damage, pneumonia, and seizures.
Mumps – A virus that causes headaches, fever, pain and swelling in the salivary glands.
Rotavirus – A virus that causes severe diarrhea and vomiting which usually lasts days. Complications can include severe dehydration and possible hospitalization.
Rubella (German Measles) – A virus with of fever, rash and swollen glands. A pregnant woman with rubella is at greater risk of miscarriage and her baby may have physical defects including loss of sight or hearing and heart problems.
Tetanus (Lockjaw) – A condition caused by bacteria, which affects the muscles, causing them to spasm. A person may experience headaches, increased blood pressure, elevated body temperature and muscle pain. The jaw muscles may spasm causing the jaw to ‘lock’.
Varicella (Chickenpox) – A highly contagious virus whose symptoms cause blister-like rash, sever itching, fever. Can cause severe complications that can lead to hospitalization.
So let’s do our part in making sure that parents and caregivers are educated on the importance of vaccinating and protecting their children against vaccine-preventable diseases.
-By Shereen Martin, Medical Support Supervisor