Immunizations are safe and important

Immunizations can protect us from many serious illnesses. But false information has discouraged many people from being immunized, and that puts everyone at risk. Get the facts. Learn why you and everyone in your family should receive all recommended vaccinations.

Protect your family with immunizations

One of the best ways to protect your children from serious disease is to make sure your family is up-to-date on immunizations. Vaccinations help keep children healthy so they can learn and grow.

To help us make sure our patients are up-to-date on their vaccinations, Children's Hospital staff looks at immunization records as part of each hospital stay and clinic visit. The state has a computer database called the Wisconsin Immunization Registry (WIR) where health care providers can enter all vaccines that are given. You can check your child's records on the WIR using their full name, Social Security number and birth date.

We will let you know if your child is missing vaccines. Some vaccines may be available at the hospital. Others need to be given at your clinic or through your local health department. Some clinics offer free or low-cost vaccinations.

A clinic where your family regularly gets medical care is called a medical home. Care providers at your medical home also can help make sure your child stays up-to-date with vaccines. Let us know if you need help finding a medical home. If you have a state insurance card, you also can call the 800-number on the back for help finding a medical home.

Vaccines are important

Vaccines are a huge success story. Diseases that still are widespread in other countries are less common in the U.S. because of immunization programs.

  • Polio is one example. Polio can result in paralysis and death. In the early 1950s, there were 15,000 cases of polio each year in the U.S. In 1955, the U.S. government gave permission to distribute a vaccine developed by Jonas Salk, MD. During the next 10 years, there was a large drop in polio cases. In 1994, the World Health Organization declared that polio was wiped out in the Americas.
  • The measles vaccine is another success story. Per the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, there are estimated to be 20 million cases of measles and 164,000 deaths each year. But the MMR vaccine has greatly reduced measles in the U.S. However, England and Germany still have very high rates of measles.
  • Since the introduction of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, the rate of serious pneumococcal infection in children younger than 5 has fallen from 80 per 100,000 children to fewer than 1 per 100,000 children.
  • Routine rotavirus vaccination, implemented in 2006, has decreased the rate of emergency room visits and hospitalization for dehydration by 70 percent.
  • Some diseases, such as influenza, still are common worldwide and can spread quickly. More than 150 children died from influenza in this country in 2012.
  • Vaccinations are important for adults, too. Everyone should receive the new tetanus/pertussis vaccine and also get a yearly flu vaccine to help protect themselves and those around them.

Vaccines are safe

Some parents are worried about immunizations. Vaccines are safe. Below are some common myths.

Myth: Vaccines can make you sick.
Fact: A low fever, soreness around the injection and aches are common. Those mild side effects show that our body is getting ready to fight the disease.

Myth: Vaccinations can cause autism.
Fact: No credible scientific study has ever linked autism to immunizations.

Myth: Vaccines can cause the disease they are supposed to prevent.
Fact: There are no vaccines that contain the exact live germ that can cause that disease. Most vaccines contain only a copy of part of the germ, which helps the body make antibodies that fight the disease.

Talk with your doctor or nurse if you have concerns.

Get the flu vaccine every year

Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and your family from the flu. An annual influenza vaccine, given in the fall, now is recommended for nearly everyone over the age of 6 months, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The flu is a virus that infects the respiratory system (nose, throat and lungs). Flu symptoms often come on quickly. They may include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache and tiredness.

It also can lead to pneumonia and even death. Pregnant women, young infants and anyone with ongoing medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and asthma have a greater risk of becoming seriously ill from the infection.

The flu spreads quickly in fall and winter because children are close to each other in school, share materials and may not wash their hands as often as they should. Vaccinations and good hand washing are proven ways to protect yourself and everyone around you from the flu.