Failure to immunize puts children at risk for preventable diseases

Post Date:04/18/2019 2:26 PM

Childhood immunization rates, including those for infants, in Galveston County are in line with those reported statewide, but education on immunization importance and safety continues to be a priority for the Galveston County Health District (GCHD).

GCHD is participating in National Infant Immunization Week, observed April 27-May 4, to help raise awareness about the benefits of immunizations to improve the health of children 2 years old and younger.

GCHD’s Immunization Services division works to protect the health and well-being of the community by providing children, and adults, protection against vaccine-preventable diseases.

“We don’t deal with many of these diseases on a daily basis so it’s easy to think they are no longer a threat,” said Eileen Dawley, RN, GCHD chief nursing officer. “This year alone, we’ve seen one Galveston County and 15 state reports of measles. This is a disease many thought was no longer an issue and now we’re seeing more and more cases not only in Texas, but across the United States.”

Measles is one of many vaccine-preventable diseases.

In Galveston County, the most common reported childhood vaccine-preventable illness since 2013 is varicella, better known as chickenpox. Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is the second most common during the same period.

Vaccinating children on time is the best way to protect them against 14 serious and potentially deadly diseases before their second birthday.

“Each year across the country, thousands of children get seriously sick and some pass away from illnesses they didn’t have to get,” Dawley said.

GCHD recommends parents speak with their medical provider about the vaccines appropriate for their children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended immunization schedule and other important information is available at www.ImmunizeTexas.com.

The recommended immunization schedule is designed to protect babies early in life, when they are vulnerable and before it is likely that they will be exposed to the diseases. Since 2010, there have been between 10,000 and 50,000 cases of pertussis each year in the United States, according to the CDC.

Pertussis can cause serious and sometimes deadly complications in babies and young children, especially those who have not received all recommended pertussis vaccines. About half of babies younger than 1 year old who get pertussis need care in the hospital. The younger the baby, the more likely they will need treatment in the hospital. Of those babies who are treated in the hospital for pertussis, about one in four get pneumonia – a lung infection – and three out of five will have apnea, when breathing slows or stops.

“People have a lot of reasons why they may not want to have their children immunized. Unfortunately, some parents make the decision not to immunize based on information that was proven to be false years ago,” Dawley said. “Science has repeatedly discounted a link between vaccines and autism.”

Parents are encouraged to register their child in ImmTrac, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) program that stores children’s confidential immunization information for medical provider access.

To learn more about ImmTrac, please visit www.dshs.texas.gov/immunize/immtrac. 

GCHD reported cases of common vaccine-preventable diseases in children

 

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019*

Haemophilus Influenzae

0

7

5

8

1*

Hepatitis, type B (acute)

3

4

4

1

0*

Influenza associated Pedi death

0

0

0

0

1*

Measles

0

0

0

0

1*

Mumps

0

0

1

0

0*

Pertussis (Whooping Cough)

16

9

5

15

1*

Strep. Infection, invasive pneumo. (Streptococcus pneumoniae)

23

28

16

31

13*

Varicella (Chicken Pox)

13

21

22

18

8*

TOTAL

55

69

53

73

24*

 

*Count as of March 31, 2019

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