Time to get immunized

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 2, 2004

Summer’s almost over and school is just around the corner for area school children.

And going back to school means checking immunizations. Students are required to have their immunization schedule up to date.

Dr. Iad Hammad, an area pediatrician, noted in a recent interview that the incidence of deadly, childhood preventable diseases has spiraled downward in recent decades. A case in point, he said, is polio which was widespread and one of the most dreaded diseases of childhood.

Email newsletter signup

Since the development of polio vaccine in the 1950s, the number of deaths and cases of paralysis have significantly dropped worldwide and the disease has essentially been eradicated in the continental United States, but immunization continues because

of the large flow of travelers between the United States and countries where the disease still exists.

Hammad told of a study in Japan where immunization was terminated due to the defeat of the disease. Two years ago, he said, the administration of polio vaccine was resumed because the population was beginning to show signs of a loss of immunity with the recurrence of some cases.

“Another success story,” Hammad said, “was the fight against Haemophilus Influenzae type b (Hib), a serious disease caused by a bacteria, that usually strikes children under 5 years old.”

Before Hib vaccine, Hammad said, Hib disease was the leading cause of bacterial meningitis among children under 5 years old in the United States, with about 20,000 children contracting the disease, with nearly 1,000 deaths.

Other vaccines discussed by Hammad that parents and children should be aware of include Hepatitis B Vaccine; Measles, Mumps & Rubella Vaccines; Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine;

Diptheria, Tetanus

& Pertussis Vaccine; and Chickenpox Vaccine.

Area physicians and the Dallas County Health Department have up-to-date information on all these and other vaccines which are administered to persons living in the United States from infancy on into adulthood.

Hammad had two messages for parents. For the first time, flu vaccine is recommended for everyone, 6 months and older, and that parents need to be aware of reliable sources of information about side effects of various vaccines that are causing some not to vaccinate their children.

Hammad recommends three Web sites for accurate information on the subject:

– American Academy of Pediatrics, with vaccine recommendations and immunization information: www.aap.org

– Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with vaccine information statements and vaccines for children program (VFC): www.cdc.gov

– American Medical Association, with immunization information: www.ama-assn.org

For further information, contact Dr. Hammad’s office at (334) 872-9410.