Pediatric HealthSource: Understanding the Importance of Childhood Vaccines

Routine immunizations guard against potentially life-threatening diseases such as polio, measles, mumps and diphtheria.

Dane Snyder, M.D.
Routine vaccinations are an important part of a child's health care, according to medical experts.

Q: Why is it so important to make sure my child is vaccinated?

A: As a parent, from the moment your children are born, you concern yourself with making sure they are healthy and protected as they grow. You baby-proof your home, place them in car seats when on the go and take countless other precautions.

Dangerous diseases, such as polio, measles, mumps and diphtheria, resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths in the past. Thanks to vaccines that were developed over years and with careful review by scientists, doctors and other health care professionals, the occurrence of and death rate from these diseases have greatly decreased. These important advances in science have created safe and effective tools that keep us healthy and protected in all stages of life—from babies to adults. When families are vaccinated, they protect themselves and others, too.

Once 80 percent to 90 percent of the population is vaccinated against a given disease, herd immunity, also known as community immunity, can be reached and outbreaks of that disease will no longer occur. This is something you have probably heard a lot about since the COVID-19 outbreak. By protecting your child through vaccination, you and your child are also protecting the community. When the risk of outbreaks in the community is lower, we can all continue attending school, going to work and having fun with each other.

Always consult your child’s pediatrician concerning your child’s health. Families can schedule an annual well visit to stay up to date on childhood immunizations and keep themselves and their loved ones safe. It is still important to stay current on preventive care, even during a pandemic, to keep children healthy.

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Dane Snyder, M.D., is section chief of Primary Care at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

Dane Snyder, M.D., of Nationwide Children’s Hospital

Be Prepared

Here are some tips parents can use to make vaccines less stressful for everyone:

  • Babies – Bring anything your baby finds comforting (a blanket, a favorite toy). If you can, breastfeed to calm them. Swaddle them if that usually relaxes them.
  • Young children – Be honest: Prepare them for “a little pinch.” Remain upbeat and use distractions so they watch you and not the shot giver. Give hugs after the shot.
  • Older children – Teach them to take deep breaths and “blow out” the sting of a shot. Tell stories and plan a fun activity for afterward.

This story is from the Fall 2021 issue of Columbus Parent.