By: Joseph Bocchini, MD
Throughout my career as a pediatrician, I have witnessed the
number of vaccine preventable diseases disappear after the introduction of a
vaccine. These discoveries have proven to be some of the most important public
health advancements in both the 20th and 21st centuries,
and have helped protect against many severe infections that cause significant illnesses
and fatalities in both children and adults.
During the COVID-19 lockdown, many people fell behind on receiving
their routine immunizations and now there is an increased need for both
children and adults to catch up and, going forward, to vaccinate on schedule to
protect our families as early as possible and prevent outbreaks.
This is important because many of the organisms responsible for
vaccine preventable diseases continue to be present in our communities and
being unvaccinated leaves a person susceptible to infection.
Some diseases are making a comeback
Recently, we have seen a rise in
the number of measles related outbreaks among children and adults who were
unvaccinated. Even more recently, there has been a reported polio case in an
Immunizations throughout adolescence are important. Of vaccines
recommended for 11–12-year-olds, the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine has the lowest percentage
of doses administered. HPV causes almost all cervical cancers, most cancers of
the genital area, and is responsible for 70% of throat cancers. Researchers
expect the HPV vaccine to prevent up to 90% of the 40,000 new cancers
associated with the Human Papillomavirus,
which occur in the US each year.
It is important that everyone –
especially parents – understand the importance of vaccines. I urge individuals
of all ages to stay aware of their immunizations and continue to stay on
schedule for their vaccinations.
About Dr. Joseph Bocchini
– Pediatrician and Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialist who has practiced
medicine for more than 45 years. He currently serves as the Director of
Children’s Health Services for the Willis-Knighton Health System in