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Immunizations: Is your child up-to-date?
You can easily protect your children from serious infectious diseases. You might even save their lives. Simply make sure they are immunized and that their immunizations are kept up-to-date.
Tawnya Kreilkamp, MD
“Some childhood diseases that were once common and life-threatening are no longer,” said Tawnya Kreilkamp, MD, a family medicine physician at New Ulm Medical Center (NUMC). “That’s thanks to the vaccinations we have today.”
Indeed, vaccines have been so successful over the past 30 years that some parents have forgotten the dangers of not having their children immunized, Dr. Kreilkamp said.
That’s one reason pertussis, or whooping cough, a disease that affects the lungs, is making a comeback. The Minnesota Department of Health reported 1,758 cases of pertussis in the first six months of this year.
“We are seeing some infants suffer greatly from this," Dr. Kreilkamp said. "There have even been some deaths.” The Minnesota Department of Health now recommends that all adolescents and adults receive at least 1 dose of Tdap, which contains the pertussis booster (as opposed to the usual Td), regardless of when they had their last tetanus (Td) booster. “If we all receive this booster, we will be protecting the young children who are not fully vaccinated,” Dr. Kreilkamp said.
Myths about immunizations continue
Sometimes, myths about immunizations keep some parents from getting their children vaccinated. “One myth is that immunizations cause autism,” Dr. Kreilkamp said. “But we now have enough evidence to say that this is most certainly not true.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all children ages 6 months to 18 years get a flu vaccine each year, especially those who have certain risk factors. The risk factors include heart disease, diabetes and asthma.
Another myth that some parents mistakenly believe is that the flu shot causes the flu, Dr. Kreilkamp said. The flu shot − as opposed to the nasal spray − is a killed virus and cannot cause flu symptoms, she said.
“A child may experience symptoms following a flu shot," she noted. "But it was probably from being exposed to a cold virus in the community prior to receiving the shot. And, it is purely coincidence."
When children are not immunized, it affects not only their health but also the health of the entire community. Immunizations stop or slow the spread of infectious diseases. Dr. Kreilkamp explained that they do this by reducing the number of people who could host them.
New vaccines recommended
It is important to talk to your primary care provider about immunizations and learn the facts before opting out of any immunizations for healthy children.
In some instances, if your child has an underlying illness or is taking certain medications, a vaccination may be postponed. Talk to your primary care provider or your child’s pediatrician about any concerns you might have. Other parents or friends may not have accurate information, Dr. Kreilkamp said.
Some newer vaccines are available, too. And Dr. Kreilkamp noted that parents should consider them. For example, there now are new vaccine recommendations that better protect children from pneumonia and meningitis.
Also, the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is recommended for teens. It protects them from the most commonly sexually transmitted virus in the United States and can prevent cervical cancer. The CDC now recommends both boys and girls be given the HPV vaccine at age 11.
Also, children who may have skipped some immunizations should be given catch-up vaccinations. Older children also may need booster shots.
“I’m a huge proponent of vaccinations,” Dr. Kreilkamp said. “If I see a child suffering from an illness that could have been prevented by vaccination, it breaks my heart.”
To schedule an appointment for immunizations at the New Ulm Medical Center, call 507-217-5011 or log on to MyChart
Go to the CDC’s website for currently recommended schedule of vaccines for children.
Source: Tawnya Kreilkamp, MD
Reviewed by: Tawnya Kreilkamp, MD
First Published: 09/08/2012
Last Reviewed: 09/08/2012