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Immunizations essential to preventing illness

Most parents and caretakers of school-age children agree that classrooms and kids can sometimes combine to create breeding grounds for disease.

Dr. Jeff Wilson, medical director of Pediatrics and Immunizations, 72nd Medical Group, said because there are still preventable diseases that are common in our environment, it is important that all children be immunized. Especially since August is National Immunization Month.

“These diseases can cause serious illness or even death, but with vaccines we are protecting our children from these illnesses and any potential complications from preventable diseases,” Wilson said.

He said today’s vaccines are safe, although there is “…nothing in life that is risk-free or absolutely safe and this holds true for vaccines.”

“There is a small chance of adverse reactions to vaccines, but these are so small that one author stated the most dangerous part of getting a vaccine is driving to the doctor’s office,” Wilson said.

He said there have been numerous studies done that have proven the safety of vaccines and task groups are established to investigate and monitor any potential side effects.

“Time and again reliable scientific studies have shown the safety of vaccines and have disproven any correlation with high profile syndromes or concerns,” Wilson said.

While there is a small risk associated with vaccines, he said the benefits greatly outweigh the risks, making them very safe.

Parents and caretakers can help ease the sting of shots by being prepared with any questions or concerns they might have about immunizations.

“Don’t tease your child about getting a shot at the doctor’s office,” Wilson said. “Have your child sit on the examination table, talk with the child, smile and try to relax yourself.

He said children are very keen on parents’ emotions and will mimic a parent’s emotional state.

“During the actual vaccinations firmly hold your child in a hug, or per the nurse’s instructions,” Wilson said. “Finally, afterwards, smile, laugh and praise your child for being brave during the process.”

He said another method that has been studied at a children’s hospital in Ohio was found to decrease vaccine anxiety and pain. It is called “blowing away shot pain.”

“The method is to have the child take a deep breath before vaccination and blow, blow and blow as long as they can until the shot is over,” Wilson said.

And, don’t forget that young adults may also need shots for HPV or meningococcal vaccinations if their recommended childhood vaccines were not completed.