August is National Immunization Awareness Month

As any parent will tell you, it is no fun when your child gets sick. And while it is impossible to thwart all germs, thanks to years of medical progress we are able to prevent some of the worst childhood illnesses thanks to vaccinations.


Routine vaccination is an important part of children’s health care. During their first fifteen months of life, children are typically immunized against 14 diseases including: diphtheria, hepatitis A & B, Haemophilus influenza type B, influenza, measles, mumps, whooping cough, pneumococcal disease, polio, rotavirus, rubella, tetanus and chickenpox. Because immunizations are so common, there has been a dramatic decline in the prevalence of these diseases in the United States. Vaccines work by stimulating our natural immune system to create antibodies for these illnesses. While no medicine is perfect, vaccines produce immunity 90% - 100% of the time.


The benefits to vaccination go beyond the health of your child. When most children in a community are immunized against a disease, even if one child gets sick, the disease probably won’t spread. By continuing to vaccinate children even though these diseases are far less common than they were in the past we ensure that these illnesses won’t make a comeback in the future.


Vaccine safety is a natural concern for parents. While any medication can cause a reaction, severe reactions to immunizations are rare. Most children don’t have any side-effects and those who do most often experience minor reactions like a sore leg, a slight rash or a mild fever.


Dr. Jazmine Harris, a Pediatrician at the CompleteCare Health Network, understands parent’s fears about immunizations. “No parent wants to see their baby get stuck with a needle, but it would be even worse than to watch them suffer with the Measles or Whooping Cough.”


In recent years immunizations have been unfairly maligned. However, rigorous clinical trials and data based on more than 50 years of experience with vaccines show that unanticipated long-term problems are extremely unlikely. Even so, for parents who are still unsure, Dr. Harris urges them to ask questions and not make important decisions regarding your child’s health based on fear or rumor.


“There are no wrong questions when it comes to the health of your child,” said Dr. Harris. “If something is bothering you about vaccinations don’t be afraid to ask. It’s my job as a Pediatrician to ensure that you are well informed so you can make the best decisions about the health and safety of your children. I can give you resource material and direct you to reputable websites where you can learn more.”


The State of New Jersey requires all students, 30 years of age or less, to submit a valid immunization record (unless they submit a letter stating valid religious or medical reasons why they cannot be vaccinated.) If your child is preparing for school and you are unsure of their vaccination history or if you have any other questions, schedule an appointment with your child’s primary care provider or call CompleteCare at 856-451-4700.