Sources: U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention; National Institutes of Health
Childhood Disease Rates have been kept low with the advent of vaccination programs. Childhood disease is common in the early months and years of life. Some upper respiratory viral or bacterial infections—colds, bronchitis, or croup—are quite common. Also common are ear infections, sinusitis, impetigo (skin infection), and conjunctivitis (pinkeye). However, there are diseases which used to kill large numbers of children before they reached adulthood. Vaccines have been incredibly effective in preventing childhood diseases and improving child mortality rates.
Childhood diseases such as Diphtheria lead to breathing problems. Pertussis is another name for whooping cough, and it hinders breathing and eating. Tetanus is a serious bacterial infection that can be fatal if not prevented or treated. Vaccinating your child against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis can be done in a single dose (DTP Vaccine). Thanks to a vaccine, the United States is one of the only places in the world where polio is completely eradicated. One shot is all it takes to prevent this paralyzing condition. Getting a flu shot and a pneumonia vaccine are also recommended for infants six months or over. A certain strain of pneumonia can lead to blood infections and meningitis, which is covered in the vaccine. Similarly, the MMR vaccine protects against measles, mumps, and rubella, viral infections that cause serious symptoms. Measles and mumps often can lead to chronic conditions, such as deafness, brain damage, and reproductive problems. Rubella (also known as the German measles) and causes a high fever.
The childhood diseases of Pertussis and Measles have been seen more frequently than expected in the United States as parents “opt out” of vaccination programs because of misplaced fears regarding the safety of vaccines. More than 41,000 cases of pertussis were reported to CDC during 2012. 18 pertussis-related deaths during 2012 were been reported to CDC as of January 5, 2013. The majority of deaths continue to occur among infants younger than 3 months of age. The incidence rate of pertussis among infants exceeds that of all other age groups. The second highest rates of disease are observed among children 7 through 10 years old. Rates are also increased in adolescents 13 and 14 years of age.
The CDC reports several important milestones already have been reached in controlling vaccine-preventable diseases among infants and adults worldwide. Vaccines have drastically reduced infant death and disability caused by preventable diseases in the United States. In addition:
- Through immunization, we can now protect infants and children from 14 vaccine-preventable diseases before age two.
- In the 1950s, nearly every child developed measles, and unfortunately, some even died from this serious disease. Today, few physicians just out of medical school will ever see a case of measles during their careers.
- In March 2005, CDC announced that rubella is no longer a major health threat to expectant mothers and their unborn children, thanks to a safe and effective vaccine, high vaccine coverage.
- In September 2010, CDC announced that childhood immunization rates for vaccines routinely recommended for children remain at or near record highs.
- Yet, the CDC reports, “without diligent efforts to maintain immunization programs in the United States and to strengthen them worldwide, vaccine-preventable diseases will remain a threat to children. As illustrations, it’s only necessary to consider the 2010 California outbreak of whooping cough where over 8,000 cases were reported in the state and where there were 10 infant deaths, or measles, which takes the lives of more than 100,000 children globally each year.”
- Over the last two years, Pennsylvania has had one of the highest rates of pertussis outbreaks in the US.
For more information search for “childhood immunization” or “shots” on medlineplus.gov. Or visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov/vaccines for more about vaccination schedules.
The Lewis Law Firm has a long history of representing children, and their families in Philadelphia and New Jersey. If your child has been diagnosed with preventable childhood disease, contact the Lewis Law Firm for a FREE consultation and review of your case, today.