By Stacy Kess
The Delaware General Health District is encouraging parents to get their children vaccinated and hopes to raise awareness of the importance during National Infant Immunization Week April 26 through May 3.
“Outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases in unvaccinated and under-vaccinated groups are a real cause for concern,” DGHD director of nursing Joyce Richmond said. “Vaccine-preventable diseases may return if high immunization rates are not maintained. Not vaccinating and having a child get a serious disease is not a risk worth taking.”
Just ahead of National Infant Immunization week, the Ohio Department of Health announced that in addition to more than 275 mumps cases, the state has been notified of several suspected measles cases in Knox County. (See related story on Page 1.)
Richmond said diseases considered rare or no longer considered native to the U.S. can be brought into the country by those who travel abroad to areas where the diseases are prevalent. Measles can be transmitted by unvaccinated people who are infected overseas.
Over the past decade, Ohio has maintained an vaccination rate of 90 percent or above of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR); nationally, the average has also remained high, though there are pockets of unvaccinated or undervaccinated populations.
Other childhood vaccinations include varicella (chicken pox); tetanus, diptheria and pertussis (TDaP); rotavirus; hepatitis A; hepatitis B; pneumoccal; meningococcal; and polio, along with yearly influenza vaccination.
DGHD said myths and misinformation are the reason some parents do not immunize their children, including that vaccine-preventable diseases are not in existence anymore. MMR has been at the center of the anti-vaccination debate since it was erroneously linked to autism by British medical journal The Lancet in 1998. (The article was retracted and the lead researched has since lost his credentials to practice medicine.)
DGHD said parents should talk to their child’s doctor to ensure their infant is up-to-date on immunizations, or parents can call the Health District clinic at 740-203-2040 for more information.
Stacy Kess can be reached at 740-363-1161, ext. 312, or on Twitter @StacyMKess.