Importance of Childhood Immunizations

HOUSTON (July 25, 2011) – It’s back-to-school time. While kids are still reveling in summer and parents are thinking about buying school supplies, one thing that might slip from parents’ minds are back-to-school immunizations.

While vaccinations may not be fun, they provide good protection against diseases that could have detrimental effects.

Dr. Delbert Dennis Myers, pediatrician at Gulfgate Health Center, part of the Harris County Hospital District, reports one example of vaccination success. It is the protection against the bacteria Haemophilus Influenzae Type B, commonly known as HIB.

“I’m old enough that I have seen HIB disease firsthand before the vaccine was around," Myers says.

During his residency and earlier years of practice, he remembers working with very sick children, often struggling to survive from HIB infections.

Prior to the availability of HIB vaccine, in the United States about 20,000 children under 5 years of age got severe HIB disease each year. Nearly 1,000 people died annually. 

Dr. Myers has not seen HIB disease for years thanks to the HIB vaccine.

This is but one example of why Dr. Myers is a strong advocate for immunizations.

“Being a pediatrician, I’m biased toward immunizations,” says Dr. Myers. “Vaccines have been around for more than 50 years. They are safe, 90 to 99 percent effective, and there are few side effects.”

He stresses the importance for a child to get all the vaccines required in a series. When children miss a vaccine in a series, they don’t get the maximum amount of protection needed.

While Myers doesn’t have many hesitant parents, he knows fears exist.

“Parents are concerned for their child and should ask questions to allay their fears,” Dr. Myers says. “Some parents say they’ve never heard of the diseases their child is being immunized against. I tell them, that’s because of the success of vaccines. The germs are still out there, but vaccines keep the kids and adults from getting the diseases.’”

“Some kids are freaked out by needles,” says Myers. “I’d rather a child be scared of a needle and dealing with that than to spend time with a child in the ICU from a serious illness that could have been prevented.”

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