PAMF Health Blog

Be Well, Be Well Informed

Why Childhood Immunizations Are Necessary

Posted on Jun 19, 2013

skd230465sdcSmall pox, polio, diphtheria, tetanus, measles, mumps and rubella all are potential life-threatening diseases that have been almost eliminated from our society during our lifetimes. The reason? The routine childhood immunization program has been widely accepted in the United States, as well as most of the modern world.

We often hear about the supposed side effects of immunizations, but we rarely hear about children getting the very diseases that the vaccines protect against. That’s because the immunization program has worked so well in preventing diseases that could have killed millions and caused untold suffering. In fact, we’ve been so successful immunizing children and preventing diseases that some might wonder whether vaccines are still needed.

In this blog post, Terry Hollenbeck, M.D., a physician at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, explains why immunizations are still necessary:

  • Newborn babies are immune to many diseases because they have antibody protection from their mothers. This immunity is mostly gone by the end of their first year of life, leaving unvaccinated babies susceptible to many vaccine-preventable illnesses.
  • Although our country has virtually eliminated these diseases, many Third World countries with poor immunization programs are still plagued by vaccine-preventable illnesses. These diseases are only a plane ride away. An infected traveler could bring such an illness back to the states, where it could spread rapidly if people were not adequately immunized.
  • In the United States, pertussis (whooping cough) is making a comeback, and tetanus is still infecting some people.
  • Widespread immunization is necessary because it helps to keep a disease from spreading within a population. This helps protect those few who, whether by choice or necessity, are not immunized.

Immunizations are safe. Many well-controlled scientific studies have concluded that there is no scientific or statistical relationship between immunizations and autism. Vaccines have the potential to end deadly disease. Just consider, smallpox once killed as many as 2 million people a year. Today, thanks to the most successful immunization program ever, the disease does not exist in society.

A California new state law mandating booster shots for middle and high school students is increasing the number of immunizations.

Until vaccine-preventable illnesses are eliminated worldwide, I strongly recommend that as many of our children as possible be routinely immunized. It’s the best way to protect your child from potentially life-threatening diseases.

Terry Hollenbeck, M.D., contributed this blog post and is an urgent care physician at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation Santa Cruz in Scotts Valley.

Terry Hollenbeck, M.D.

Terry Hollenbeck, M.D.