In a special article for the Los Angeles Times, Dr. Steve Dudley reminds parents that, since their kids don t live in a vacuum, there should be no delay in getting them immunized. For those who avoid vaccinating their children out of fear of Big Pharma conspiracy theories or because they still think that vaccines cause autism, Dr. Dudley counters that these are excuses devoid of any scientific merit; vaccines are safe and effective at preventing debilitating diseases, and our ability to eradicate smallpox through their widespread use is just one instance of their extraordinary benefits to public health. People have long forgotten that their grandparents would take 1,000 mile detours around Chicago when polio outbreaks plagued the city in the 1930s, but Dr. Dudley wants to remind parents of such cases so that they re not inclined to be nonchalant about immunization. He refers hesitant parents to their older relatives when he points out that seniors ...lost children and other loved ones to the diseases you are so nonchalant about. These are the ones who line up for their annual flu shots and ask when they are due for any other immunizations they may need. Yes, they have a healthy respect for these diseases. I wish you could catch some of their fear.
Also reporting on the importance of vaccines in her latest USA Today article, Liz Szabo reminds us that children aren t the only demographic we should be targeting for inoculations. Teenagers largely slip under the vaccine radar, so that, while about 90 percent of babies and toddlers receive the recommended shots, teen vaccination rates fall far short of this. Since adolescents see their physicians less frequently compared to any other age group, and because fewer vaccines are mandated for high school or college students, their dismal vaccination rates are actually not so surprising.
That, however, does not mean that they re immune to getting sick. For instance, teenagers have the highest risk for meningococcal meningitis, yet only half of adolescents today are vaccinated against it according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which now recommends that teens get meningitis booster shots at 16 to protect against waning immunity. In addition, parents should be aware that adolescents need to be vaccinated for whooping cough and human papilloma virus, as well as their annual flu shot.