John Monroe, MD, is a family practice physician on staff at Banner Estrella Medical Center. He can be reached at (623) 889-3477.
Question: There are so many different immunizations today. Are they all necessary and when should we start to vaccinate our baby?
Answer: Immunization is really the epitome of preventive medicine. The country, if not the world, wants to get to a place where we are proactive in preventing diseases from occurring rather than treating them after the child gets sick.
At one time, diseases such as polio, diphtheria and smallpox caused devastating problems for hundreds of thousands of people around the world. Because of good immunization programs they have all but been eradicated. Many young people today have never heard of some of the diseases that plagued previous generations.
A recent press release from the Arizona Department of Health Services addressed a measles outbreak in Southern Arizona affecting eleven people. Of those eleven, six children and five adults, all were previously unvaccinated underlining the necessity of getting the recommended immunizations.
It is never too late for adults to receive a measles vaccination if they have never had one. Because immunizations are recommended by physicians and required before a youngster can start school, we are seeing fewer and fewer cases of measles and other childhood diseases that once were prevalent. In my practice I have never seen a case of measles. That speaks volumes of the effectiveness of immunizations.
In this country immunizations start when a baby is born. They get the Hepatitis B vaccine at birth. That is followed by a series of vaccinations starting when the infant is two months old.
Are all vaccines safe? There is always a chance of side effects with any type of medication. We, as physicians, have to be careful to inform our patients that there have been rare cases of side effects occurring but the benefits outweigh the risks every time. Don’t play Russian Roulette with your child’s health. Make sure they have the proper vaccinations.
Of course, before following any medical advice, talk to your doctor first.