The Importance of Immunizations
All children should be immunized at regular health care visits, beginning at birth immunizations are very important in keeping our children healthy. The recommended childhood and adolescent schedule urges shots starting at birth and going through 24 months of age, with boosters and catch-up vaccines continuing through the teenage years and into old age. By immunizing, we safeguard our children against the potentially devastating effects of vaccine preventable diseases. No child should ever have to endure the effects of vaccine preventable diseases, simply because he or she was not vaccinated on time. Catastrophic effects of childhood diseases can lead to life-long illness or even death.
The United States has experienced outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases in the past several years - diseases that imperil our children's health and future. The primary cause for the 1989 - 1991 outbreak of measles and resurgence of other vaccine preventable diseases has not been the failure of the vaccines to protect, but rather the failure of the health care system to deliver the vaccines to the children at the recommended ages.
Parents must not wait until their children enter school to immunize them. They are more likely to have complications or die from vaccine preventable diseases than older children. Immunization is the most cost-effective preventive health measure.
While overall immunization levels in the US are up, levels in many parts of the country remain dangerously low. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 2010 National Immunization Survey only 70% of our nations children were fully immunized by age 35 months and levels in some areas of the country were as low as 57%. Twenty-eight states had coverage rates below the national average. Immunization coverage levels for the state of Pennsylvania was 75% in 2010.
Pa Health Department's Vaccine for Children Program (VFC) provides vaccinations to children who do not have health insurance. Or children who are insured but insurance does not cover immunizations (underinsured) are eligible to receive federally funded vaccines at public sites, including Federally Qualified Health Centers and Rural Health Clinics.
Ask your doctor or clinic if they are a VFC provider. If they are, you may go to them for the shots your child needs. To find a VFC-enrolled provider near you, call: 1-877 PA-HEALTH (1-877-724-3258).