The Importance of Childhood Immunizations

Monday, July 30, 2012

Disease Prevention--Protect Those Around You

Disease prevention is the key to public health. It is always better to prevent a disease than to treat it. Vaccines prevent disease in the people who receive them and protect those who come into contact with unvaccinated individuals. Vaccines help prevent infectious diseases and save lives. Vaccines are responsible for the control of many infectious diseases that were once common in this country, including polio, measles, diphtheria, whooping cough, rubella (German measles), mumps, and tetanus.

Parents are constantly concerned about the health and safety of their children and take many steps to protect them. These steps range from child-proof door latches to child safety seats. In the same way, vaccines work to protect infants, children, and adults from illnesses and death caused by infectious diseases. While the U.S. currently has record, or near record, low cases of vaccine-preventable diseases, the viruses and bacteria that cause them still exist. Even diseases that have been eliminated in this country, such as polio, are only a plane ride away. Polio, and other infectious diseases, can be passed on to people who are not protected by vaccines.

Vaccine-preventable diseases have a costly impact, resulting in doctor's visits, hospitalizations, and premature deaths. Sick children can also cause parents to lose time from work.

Why are Childhood Vaccines So Important?

• It's true that newborn babies are immune to many diseases because they have antibodies they got from their mothers. However, the duration of this immunity may last only a month to about a year. Further, young children do not have maternal immunity against some vaccine-preventable diseases, such as whooping cough.

• If a child is not vaccinated and is exposed to a disease, the child's body may not be strong enough to fight it. Before vaccines, many children died from diseases that vaccines now prevent, but these same germs still exist. Babies are now protected by vaccines, however, so we do not see these diseases as often.

• Immunizing individual children also helps to protect the health of our community, especially those people who are not immunized. People who are not immunized include those who are too young to be vaccinated (e.g., children less than a year old cannot receive the measles vaccine but can be infected by the measles virus), those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons (e.g., children with leukemia), and those who cannot make an adequate response to vaccination. Immunization also slows down or stops disease outbreaks.

Why Immunize? For Parents

Why immunize our children? Sometimes we are confused by the messages in the media. First we are assured that, thanks to vaccines, some diseases are almost gone from the U.S. But we are also warned to immunize our children.

It's true that some diseases are becoming very rare in the U.S. Of course, they are becoming rare largely because we have been vaccinating against them. Keep immunizing until disease is eliminated.

Unless we can eliminate the disease, it is important to keep immunizing. Even if there are only a few cases of disease today, if we take away the protection given by vaccination more and more people will be infected and will spread diseases to others. Soon we will undo the progress we have made over the years.

We vaccinate to protect our future.

We don't vaccinate just to protect our children. We also vaccinate to protect our grandchildren and their grandchildren. Our children don't have to get smallpox shots anymore because the disease no longer exists. If we keep vaccinating now, parents in the future may be able to trust that diseases like polio and meningitis won't infect, cripple, or kill children. Vaccinations are one of the best ways to put an end to the serious effects of certain diseases.

Source: (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Reprinted with permission


Monday, July 23, 2012


Many parents have no idea that teens are abusing these products. But 1 in 25 eighth graders abused over-the-counter (OTC) cough and cold remedies in the past year. (1)
Like prescription drugs, OTC’ s are often found at home. In many areas, teens can buy them at stores, quite easily.

But that doesn’t mean they’re safe to use without proper supervision. Teens underestimate the dangers of abusing OTC drugs. Many contain Dextromethorphan (DXM), a cough suppressant, which can cause delusions, loss of consciousness, and even death when taken in excessive amounts. And taking these drugs with alcohol can make the effects even more dangerous.

Parents can help stop abuse of these products with three steps:

1. Safeguard your prescription AND OTC drugs, especially those containing DXM. Monitor quantities and control access. Ask friends and family to do the same.

2. Properly conceal and dispose of old or unused meds in the trash.

3. Talk to your kids about the dangers. Set clear rules for teens about all drug and alcohol use, including never taking medicine without permission and always following proper dosages. And be a good ROLE MODEL when it comes to these issues.

Watch for warning signs your teen is using, such as empty bottles or packages and behavior changes, such as mood swings, or changes in appetite or sleep habits.

***Slang Terms Teens are using to describe cough and cold remedies:

DXM                            SKITTLES

ROBO                          TRIPLE C

SYRUP                         RED DEVILS



You can help keep your teen safe and drug-free. To learn more about OTC drug abuse and what you can do to stop it, visit: or call 1-800-788-2800


(1)2007 Monitoring the Future Study, U. of Michigan, Nat’l Instit. On Drug Abuse

Office of Nat’l Drug Control Policy

Little Things Mean a Lot

Friday, July 13, 2012

His name was Mr. Lowry. He had red hair, cut in the typical flat-top style of the 1960s. The severe haircut could not hide his kind nature or his twinkling blue eyes. Nevertheless, I was a little afraid of him. I was a second grader and he was the principal of Ligonier Elementary School. Even our teachers, who seemed fearless to me, were deferential to him. He was a Very Important Person.

I had been struggling with math. My teacher spent extra time working with me, and had assigned extra work for me to take home. My mother made sure I got it done. Today the teacher was going to pass back our most recent math test.

Suddenly Mr. Lowry entered the room, with a small smile on his face. My teacher smiled back at him. It was as though they shared a delightful secret. He joined my teacher at the front of the room and took one of the test papers from her. I realized his blue eyes were twinkling at…me!

“Mary, would you come to the front of the class, please?” The other students began to giggle. I was quiet and awkward, sometimes the subject of cruel jokes. Mr. Lowry shot the class a look that silenced them.

As I stepped to the front of the classroom, Mr. Lowry spoke. “Mary has been working really hard on her math problems. She’s been doing extra work and giving her best. I wanted to come here today, Mary, to give you your last test because your grade improved a LOT!”

He showed the class my test paper. At the top was a big red “A.”

Mr. Lowry and my teacher began to clap, and the other students joined them. And then, the principal of Ligonier Elementary School, a Very Important Person, leaned down and hugged me. He whispered, “I am so proud of you.”

I beamed all the way back to my seat. The rest of the day I was in a delighted haze.

I was seven years old when Mr. Lowry hugged me and told me he was proud of me. That was almost fifty years ago, and I can remember it like it happened yesterday. I’m sure he was a busy man. There always seemed to be a line of students and teachers waiting to see him. No doubt he had a ton of paperwork waiting and phone calls to return to other Very Important People. But Mr. Lowry took five minutes to encourage a child, and it has made a huge difference in my life to this very day.

July is national “Make a Difference to Children” Month. It’s a time to remember the adults who made a difference for us when we were young. It’s also a time to consider what we can do to make a difference for the children around us. Sometimes even little things can make a big impact. Here are some ideas:

• Commit to do one special thing with a child in July—make some kind of positive difference for that child.

• Support an organization that focuses on children—there are many to choose from.

• Communicate with your elected leaders to make children a priority in policy and budget issues they address.

I doubt that Mr. Lowry felt like a Very Important Person. But he was to my classmates and me. You are probably a Very Important Person to the children around you. This month—and every month—take some time to make a difference.

Contributed by Mary Armstrong-Smith, PCAIN Community Partners Director

4th of July Safety

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

With very hot weather and family events, the Fourth of July can be a fun time with great memories. But before your family celebrates, make sure everyone knows about fireworks safety.  Many counties in Indiana have banned the use of fireworks.  To see Fourth of July celebrations in central Indiana for 2012:

If not handled properly, fireworks can cause burn and eye injuries in kids and adults. The best way to protect your family is not to use any fireworks at home — period. Attend public fireworks displays, and leave the lighting to the professionals.

Lighting fireworks at home isn't even legal in many areas, so if you still want to use them, be sure to check with your local police department first. If they're legal where you live, keep these safety tips in mind:

Kids should never play with fireworks. Things like firecrackers, rockets, and sparklers are just too dangerous. If you give kids sparklers, make sure they keep them outside and away from the face, clothing, and hair. Sparklers can reach 1,800° Fahrenheit (982° Celsius) — hot enough to melt gold.

Buy only legal fireworks (legal fireworks have a label with the manufacturer's name and directions; illegal ones are unlabeled), and store them in a cool, dry place. Illegal fireworks usually go by the names M-80, M100, blockbuster, or quarter-pounder. These explosives were banned in 1966, but still account for many fireworks injuries.

Never try to make your own fireworks.

Always use fireworks outside and have a bucket of water and a hose nearby in case of accidents.

Steer clear of others — fireworks have been known to backfire or shoot off in the wrong direction. Never throw or point fireworks at someone, even in jest.

Don't hold fireworks in your hand or have any part of your body over them while lighting. Wear some sort of eye protection, and avoid carrying fireworks in your pocket — the friction could set them off.

Point fireworks away from homes, and keep away from brush and leaves and flammable substances. The National Fire Protection Association estimates that local fire departments respond to more 50,000 fires caused by fireworks each year.

Light one firework at a time (not in glass or metal containers), and never relight a dud.

Don't allow kids to pick up pieces of fireworks after an event. Some may still be ignited and can explode at any time.

Soak all fireworks in a bucket of water before throwing them in the trash can.

Think about your pet. Animals have sensitive ears and can be extremely frightened or stressed on the Fourth of July. Keep pets indoors to reduce the risk that they'll run loose or get injured.

If a child is injured by fireworks, immediately go to a doctor or hospital. If an eye injury occurs, don't allow your child to touch or rub it, as this may cause even more damage. Also, don't flush the eye out with water or attempt to put any ointment on it. Instead, cut out the bottom of a paper cup, place it around the eye, and immediately seek medical attention — your child's eyesight may depend on it. If it's a burn, remove clothing from the burned area and run cool, not cold, water over the burn (do not use ice). Call your doctor immediately.

Fireworks are meant to be enjoyed, but you'll enjoy them much more knowing your family is safe. Take extra precautions this Fourth of July and your holiday will be a blast!

Taken from: