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Articles written and contributed by CHOC Children's pediatric experts.

Childhood Vaccinations - What You Need to Know to Safegaurd Your Child

By Dr. Jasjit Singh
(reprinted from OC Family - May 2007)

Immunization has been called the most important public health intervention in history, after safe drinking water. It has saved millions of lives over the years and prevented hundreds of millions of cases of disease. Yet, when it comes to childhood vaccinations, parents have a lot of questions ? and with good reason. Here are some things parents need to know.

Some parents may consider delaying or refusing vaccinations because of conflicting information linking some vaccines to certain disorders such as autism. Yet, researchers from around the world have concluded that vaccines do not cause these chronic disorders. Because vaccines are given to healthy people, they undergo a rigorous approval process.

Parents frequently question the number of vaccines required ? more than most adults received when they were children. There are more safe and effective vaccines today than there were a generation ago, so we are able to protect our children from even more serious illnesses. Although kids now get more than 20 vaccines by their second birthday, this does not in any way ?overwhelm? their immune systems.

As important as vaccines are to the health and well-being of children, getting those shots can be a stressful experience. Here are a few helpful tips:

  • Never lie to a child about getting a shot.
  • Explain to older children what?s going to happen and that the shot keeps them healthy.
  • Tell your child that it?s OK to cry, but also suggest that your child try to be brave.
  • Distraction at the moment of the injection is helpful. Have your child count or sing a song with you.
  • Praise your child after the injection is over.
  • Plan something fun after the doctor?s visit. A trip to the park can make the next immunization experience less unpleasant.

The Department of Health and Human Services recommends the following for children 6 and under:

  • Hepatitis B vaccine (HepB)
  • Rotavirus vaccine (Rota)
  • Diphtheria and tetanus toxoids and acellular pertussis vaccine (DTaP)
  • Haemophilus influenzae tybe b vaccine (Hib)
  • Pneumococcal vaccine (PCV)
  • Inactivated Poliovirus vaccine (IPV)
  • Influenza vaccine (TIV))
  • Measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR)
  • Varicella vaccine
  • Hepatitis A vaccine (HepA)

The 2007 schedule does include the following changes:

  • Oral rotavirus vaccine for universal administration to all infants at 2, 4 and 6 months of age.
  • Universal administration of a second dose of varicella vaccine at 4 to 6 years of age.
  • The age range for universal annual administration of influenza vaccine has been expanded to children 6 months to 5 years of age and those in close contact with children, from birth to age 5.
  • Human papillomavirus vaccine (HPV) for girls 11 to 12 years of age, including catch-up immunization of girls 13 to 18 years of age. This vaccine prevents most cases of cervical cancer and genital warts.
  • Meningococcal and Tdap vaccines are also recommended for children, ages 11 and 12.

Immunization saves lives. It?s that simple.

While keeping up on the recommended changes can be challenging, it?s well worth it to safeguard children from serious illness.

Dr. Jasjit Singh is a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Children?s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC). For more information about CHOC or to find a CHOC physician, visit choc.org. For Letters: ocfamily.com and click on Feedback.

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