Children in the U.S. have been getting the measles vaccine for 50 years. But Europe and other countries have low vaccination rates, and children who have traveled overseas are bringing the disease back to the U.S. Now as National Infant Immunization Week kicks off, pediatricians want parents to make sure their children don't miss their check ups.
2011 was the worst year in the U.S. for the measles in 15 years. And most children who got sick with the highly contagious disease, were not vaccinated. Their parents got exemptions, claiming philosophical, religions or medical reasons. Now doctors are reminding parents again just how dangerous it can be when you don't vaccinate your child.
"It is super important for children and infants to be vaccinated because with vaccines we have one of the most powerful prevention tools to help protect against serious infections and life threatening infections. So keeping kids vaccinated on time and up to date is critically important to that effort," said Dr. Lisa Glasser, a board certified general pediatrician in Henderson, Nevada.
Pediatricians say the vaccine program is a victim of it's own success, because of required vaccinations, people rarely see the diseases and think they are gone, but they are not. And if vaccine rates don't stay up, more of these diseases will start coming back.
As a medical reporter, I have seen children who've had both arms and both legs amputated as infants because they got some sort of meningitis or bacterial infection that they weren't vaccinated against. They needed the life changing surgery to save their lives.
"We are vaccinating for infections that are potentially life threatening. Some of them are familiar like whopping cough and other ones are unfamiliar to people. For example, invasive pneumococcal disease or IPD, that's meningitis, pneumonia, blood infections, caused by a bacteria called strep pneumo (Streptococcus pneumoniae) and these infections can kill a child," stressed Dr. Glasser.
But there are vaccines against all of these IPD illnesses http://prevnar13.com/
Children need to follow the well baby vaccine schedule and get all the boosters. And doctors say there is no scientific evidence that vaccines are related to autism in any way.
"It's unfortunate that over the years there's been a lot of misinformation and it's caused parents to be scared to vaccinate their children," Dr. Glasser explained.
For the complete CDC schedule of infant and childhood vaccinations go to http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/