How To Prepare For World Immunization Week

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By Monica Mendoza

doctorAround the globe, doctors and healthcare professionals continuously battle deadly diseases that negatively impact the lives of millions of people, and one tool that they effectively use toward that goal is vaccines. Immunization is perhaps the single most important healthcare decision a person can make that can save his or her life from vaccine-preventable diseases such as cervical cancer, hepatitis B, pneumonia, polio, tetanus, rubella, mumps, measles, and whooping cough.

While the act of immunization may seem simple enough, there is still a need to drive awareness and education on it. According to statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO), the level of global immunization coverage has seemingly reached a plateau at 86 percent, with no significant increase in the past year. It is estimated that as much as 19.5 million infants are still left out on basic prescribed vaccines.

The good news is that the annual celebration of World Immunization Week by the WHO is a great opportunity for all stakeholders and the general public to do their part, no matter how small, in increasing awareness and spreading information about the importance of vaccines in saving lives. There are many ways that you can do your share in preparing for World Immunization Week:

  • Promote it with a custom wristband in your local schools and communities. A custom wristband reminding people of World Immunization Week is a simple but effective way to encourage more and more individuals to get vaccinated against some of the most common healthcare conditions. It can also be a great fundraising activity for your local charity or organization. Other ways that you can promote World Immunization Week is through posters, flyers, and events in your own community or locality.
  • Spreading the news on social media is another way to help without even costing you anything. Your social media network alone is a great place to start to discuss the importance of immunization, especially for infants and children. Be sure to check out official articles, announcements, and thought pieces from reputable sources such as the WHO and share them responsibly on the Internet so that the spread of fake news can be prevented. There are numerous misconceptions or misinformation about vaccines and immunization, and they need to be countered with facts and data from official scientific reports and studies.
  • Check with local legislators on how you can help support any laws, bills, or resolutions related to healthcare and immunization. There are many proposed healthcare measures in terms of government legislation that need the active voice of citizens. Lend some time in attending hearings and sessions where you can learn more about issues and how you can contribute positively in effecting legislation for the good of the general public.
  • Visit your doctor and see how you or your family members can benefit from vaccination from dreaded diseases. There are different vaccines prescribed for various life stages, and it’s a good idea not to miss out on the opportunity to get yourself protected from diseases. As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. That is why healthcare experts and governments are adamant in promoting immunization because deaths from certain diseases can absolutely be avoided if only for the simple act of vaccination.

As science and technology steadily progress further in the field of medicine, more and more vaccines are being effectively developed against a bigger number of diseases and health conditions. Vaccines are perhaps one of the most important medical innovations in modern history, and by all indications, it will definitely continue to play a vital part in global healthcare in many more decades to come.

Typical Immunization Schedule For The Babies First Year

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babyDuring your baby’s first year, the pediatrician’s office can begin to feel like a second home. It seems that even if your baby is perfectly healthy all the time, you still have to be there quite often for well visits. During these check-ups, parents are often told their babies will be receiving shots. Typically, pediatricians hand the parents some literature on the vaccines scheduled to be given at the beginning of the visit and send a nurse in at the end to administer them. This does not allow much time to go over the paperwork and obtain a good understanding of the shots or the diseases they’re meant to prevent. It also does not allow much room to mentally prepare for the baby’s inoculations and the cries that will surely follow.

In order to feel better prepared and to ensure you are on track with your baby’s shots, here is a typical immunization schedule for your baby’s first year.

* Birth – The first immunization is generally given at the time of birth, and this first shot contains the first dose of the hepatitis B vaccine. Hepatitis is a serious illness that affects the liver and can be fatal if contracted. This vaccine contains thimerosal, also known as mercury. Your baby will eventually need another dose at one or two months of age.

* Two Months – This well visit usually contains a high number of vaccines being administered. Sometimes, doctors will combine more than one vaccine into one shot in order to reduce the number of injections. At this age, you can expect your child to receive the second dose of the hepatitis B vaccine. Additionally, the first dose of the rotavirus vaccine will be administered. Rotavirus is an illness that most people refer to as a stomach flu that causes of severe diarrhea. While not usually fatal, rotavirus is more dangerous to infants and the elderly. Next, the first dose of the Hib to prevent haemophilus influenzae, a disease that typically affects children under the age of five that can cause meningitis, pneumonia and infections of the blood, bones and joints, is given. This injection contains trace amounts of formaldehyde. An initial dose of DTaP for Diphtheria and Tetanus is also administered. Diphtheria is an upper respiratory infection that can be deadly, while tetanus is a bacterial disease that affects the nervous system. This vaccine contains aluminum hydroxide and thimerosal. IPV is given for Polio, a disease that can cause paralysis and even death. This vaccine also contains trace amounts of formaldehyde. Finally, an initial dose of PCV13 for pneumococcal will be given. Pneumococcal is known as the number one preventable cause of death in infants and children under five, according to the World Health Network. This disease can cause pneumonia, infection of the blood (bacteremia/sepsis), middle-ear infection (otitis media) and bacterial meningitis.

* Four Months – At four months, your baby will receive the second doses for all the first dose shots she was given at two months. These include rotavirus, diphtheria and tetanus toxoids and acellular pertussis (DTaP), haemophilus influenza type B (Hib), pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13) and polio.

* Six Months – Yet a third round of immunizations is given when your baby is six months old. Your child’s doctor will probably also suggest an annual flu shot. If you opt for her to receive the flu vaccine, it is often split into two shots because it is the first time the child is receiving it. You can usually request this shot in the thimerosal-free version, which has much less mercury in it than the regular vaccine. So again, your child will be receiving Hepatitis B, Rotavirus, DTaP, Hib, PCV13 and IPV.

* One Year – When your baby turns a year old, she will be due for the MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella), Var (Varicella or chickenpox), PCV and Hib vaccines. Measles, mumps and rubella were once quite common childhood illnesses, and all three can lead to serious and potentially fatal complications. Chickenpox, also known as varicella, was also very common until fairly recently. While most recovered fully, this disease could occasionally lead to severe skin infections, scars, pneumonia, brain damage or death. The varicella vaccine contains aluminum.

Now that you have a brief overview of what vaccines you can expect to be given to your baby during her first year, you can prepare by doing further research into the vaccine, its ingredients and the disease it protects against. You can also write down any questions you have for your doctor before heading into the appointment. Don’t ever feel bad about asking questions or obtaining second opinions when you visit a medical professional; after all, your child’s health and wellbeing are at stake. Ultimately, your child’s well-being is in your hands, and obtaining objective information on your child’s health is one of the best things you can do as a parent.

Submitted by Kaitlyn Johnson of Newborn Care