Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Opinion

April 23, 2012

Immunize your child

THE ISSUE:Infant immunizations.

OUR VIEW:Vaccinations early in life can protect against exposure to a potentially life-threatening disease when a child is most vulnerable.

Pertussis is a communicable disease Americans just don’t worry about today. Health professionals begin immunizing infants against pertussis, diphtheria and tetanus with the DPaT vaccine just two months after birth.

But pertussis, better known as whooping cough, made a comeback in October 2010. Health officials across the state reported infections of the disease at a 24-year high.

The rise in reported whooping cough cases might’ve been due in part to better diagnostic tests, health professionals said. But they also pointed to the number of children who might not have been vaccinated against the disease, as well as the number of teens who fail to get booster shots that keep their immunity from waning.

It’s National Infant Immunization Week. And though it has highlighted the importance of protecting children from preventable diseases for 18 years, Indiana still ranks among the bottom half of states in infant inoculations.

The Howard County Health Department makes it easy for families to get vaccinations. It hosts weekly children’s immunization clinics, and free or low-cost vaccinations are available to all resident families without immunization coverage or health insurance.

County health officials administered 12,000 vaccinations to children the year of the whooping cough outbreak. Despite dozens of immunization clinics and warnings from school officials of possible expulsion for not providing proof of immunization, as many as 1,000 students still hadn’t received inoculations before October of that year – more than two months into the fall semester.

For the health of your children and the safety of this community, immunize them before they are exposed to a potentially life-threatening disease.

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