Immunizations are vital to health
This week is national infant immunization week and as the medical director of the Department of Health in Hernando County, I'd like to highlight the critical role vaccination plays in protecting our children and communities. It's easy to think of vaccine-preventable diseases such as polio, measles, and mumps as diseases of the past, but the truth is they still exist. Children in the United States can and do still get some of these diseases.
In 2013 there was a higher than normal number of measles cases nationally, including 58 in New York City. It was the largest reported outbreak of measles in the U.S. since 1996. Locally we did not see any measles cases in 2013, but we did see three cases of pertussis (whooping cough) and five cases of chicken pox have been reported since Jan 1.
Vaccines are among the most successful and cost-effective public health tools available for preventing disease and death, and they are safe. Very serious health events are extremely rare and are far more likely to result from a vaccine-preventable disease than by a vaccine. The benefits of vaccination greatly outweigh the risk, and many more injuries and deaths would occur without vaccines. Through immunization, we can now protect infants and children from 14 vaccine-preventable diseases before age 2. Immunizations help protect entire communities by preventing and reducing the spread of infectious diseases.
Recommended vaccines are available at no cost to children 18 and younger through the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program. For information, visit cdc.gov, flhealth.gov or contact the Department of Health in Hernando County at (352) 540-6800, ext. 82052.
Fermin Leguen, M.D., Brooksville