By Dr. Grace Chen O'Neil, Tripler Army Medical Center Emergency DepartmentApril 29, 2019
HONOLULU (April 29, 2019) - National Infant Immunization Week is an annual observance to emphasize the importance of protecting infants from diseases preventable by vaccinations.
Vaccines have significantly decreased infant death and disability from preventable disease in the U.S. and can protect children from 14 different diseases before the age of two.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that routine childhood vaccines in children born in 2018 will prevent and 419 million illnesses, 26.8 hospitalizations, and 936,000 early deaths.
Unfortunately, people in the U.S. continue to get diseases that can be prevented by vaccines. Forty-two thousand adults and 300 children in the U.S. die each year from such illnesses. Those communities with pockets of unvaccinated populations are at more risk for outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases. One study showed a substantial proportion of the U.S. measles cases that have occurred recently were intentionally unvaccinated. Vaccine refusal was associated with an increased risk of pertussis and measles among people who refuse vaccines and among fully vaccinated individuals.
Since the start of vaccines, annual measles cases in the U.S. were less than 100 to a couple hundred; but in 2014, 667 people were sickened with measles. From 1970-2000, less than 8000 cases of whooping cough occurred each year in the U.S., but since 2019, 15,000-50,000 cases of whooping cough have occurred yearly.
In 1998, a British surgeon and researcher published a paper linking the administration of the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine with autism (based on only 12 patients). The paper was retracted in 2010, and many articles followed refuting his research. Unfortunately, though his research was discredited, some families stopped vaccinating their children.
Vaccines are very safe and effective. Although nothing is 100 percent safe and effective, vaccines are tested for safety and efficacy before approval by the Federal Drug Administration. Vaccines are also tested in clinical trials, and then every batch is tested to make sure the vaccine works and is sterile (does not have other germs).
The U.S. has one of the most advanced systems for tracking vaccine safety including the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System, the Vaccine Safety Datalink, the Post-licensure Rapid Immunization Safety Monitoring System, and the Clinical Immunization Safety Assessment Project.
The incidence of vaccine-preventable diseases has declined due to the success of immunizations. Immunization has eliminated smallpox from the world. Polio has been eradicated from the U.S. For most diseases that can be prevented with a vaccine; there has been more than a 95 percent reduction in occurrence with vaccination.
Vaccines are highly effective and can keep your family healthy. Please vaccinate your children and yourself!
For more information about infant vaccinations at Tripler, contact your child's primary care provider.