Those who look to handle back-to-school prep piecemeal, and well in advance, may already have printed the supplies list and started shopping for sneakers. Something that may have escaped the early planning stage, however: checking that to see that your child’s immunizations are up to date.
All that takes is a phone call or email to your child’s pediatrician.
“I can’t stress enough how important it is for adults to keep current with their family’s immunizations,” said Dr. Mathew Bartels, a practicing pediatrician and Univera Healthcare chief medical officer for health care improvement.
Immunizations, often called vaccinations, are mostly given as shots. Today’s childhood immunizations protect against serious and potentially life-threatening diseases such as polio, measles and pertussis, also known as whooping cough.
“This isn’t just some abstract concept intended to prompt an academic discussion: Immunizations protect against real diseases that pose real threats in our community,” Bartels said in a news release. “This past spring, we saw school districts right here in our area send home notices about the prevalence of whooping cough, a disease that’s potentially fatal to infants and the elderly.”
Univera in 2014 issued a fact sheet on vaccination rates in upstate New York that showed the incidence of whooping cough in the region to be substantially higher than the national average – 26.6 cases per 100,000 people compared to 15.4 cases per 100,000 nationally. The report also detailed how a person infected with whooping cough can spread the disease to up to 15 people, and unvaccinated children are eight times more likely to become infected than children who receive the five recommended vaccine doses.
“When children aren’t current on their immunizations, they’re not only at increased risk for catching diseases, but also for spreading them to others in the classroom and the community,” Bartels said.
According to vaccines.gov, immunizations are safe and effective. In addition, they can:
• Save your child’s life.
• Safeguard others you care about.
• Help reduce out-of-pocket medical costs.
• Protect future generations.
“Talk to your child’s doctor if you have any questions or concerns about immunizations,” Bartels advised. “It’s also important for adults to be vaccinated, so reach out to your primary care physician as well.”
Find out more about the recommended immunization schedule for children, teens and adults at univerahealthcare.com/stayhealthy. View Univera Healthcare’s report on vaccination rates in upstate New York at univerahealthcare.com/factsheets.