As a parent, you want the best for your kids when it comes to their safety. The best car seats, strollers, cribs — anything that can help protect them. And the same is true when it comes to protecting their health. That’s why vaccinating your child is important as well — and it could help save their life.
“Vaccinations are important, even before the COVID-19 pandemic, and unfortunately more so now because there’s been a significant drop in the numbers of outpatient clinic visits across the country, including in Fresno,” says Dr. John Moua, interim chief of pediatrics at UCSF Fresno and medical director for the Pediatric Specialty Care Center at Community Regional Medical Center.
Everyone 16 years of age and older is now eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccination. Officials with the American Academy of Pediatrics say it’s “potentially achievable” that a COVID-19 vaccine will be available for at least some age groups of children and adolescents before the 2021-22 school year begins.
#1 – Getting the vaccine protects kids from disease
The purpose of being vaccinated is to prevent a disease rather than treat it after it occurs. Potentially deadly diseases that used to be considered common in the U.S., like polio, measles, mumps and rubella, can now be prevented by vaccination.
So how does it work?
A weakened form of the virus is injected into the body.
The body makes antibodies to fight the virus.
If the actual disease virus ever attacks the body, the antibodies return and destroy it.
All vaccines are carefully reviewed and tested by scientists and healthcare professionals before being given to children. Serious side effects following vaccination are very rare. The benefits of vaccination are much greater than the possible side effects for almost all children.
#2 – Getting the vaccine can save you time and money
Some vaccine-preventable diseases can result in intensive treatment or prolonged disabilities that can take a financial toll on families. The best way to prevent this is to make sure your child is up to date with their immunizations.
Dr. Moua says since the shelter in place mandate was ordered in March of 2020, many parents have been hesitant to take their children to see their doctors and have missed their vaccinations. “What we’ve seen is that there’s been a decrease in vaccination rates of 20 to 40 percent, so it’s extremely important that we continue to get that rate back up.”
#3 – Getting the vaccine can help protect others
Vaccines have reduced and in some cases eliminated many diseases — like polio or smallpox — that killed or severely disabled people just a few generations ago.
The vaccines to keep in mind for younger children include:
Pertussis (whooping cough)
If you aren’t sure what vaccinations your child has had, contact your pediatrician.
Dr. Moua says if children do not keep up with their vaccinations, there could be an outbreak of another infectious disease, like measles. He advises all parents speak directly to their pediatricians if they have concerns and reassures that many doctor’s offices have safe COVID-19 protocols in place for well child visits.