Vaccinations Protect Children from the Biggest Bully of All – Vaccine-preventable Diseases
Back-to-school time can be exciting and hectic. However, this special time of year is about preparing our children for a successful school year and investing in their bright futures.
Recommended vaccinations may seem like just another task on our back-to-school to do lists, but they are far more important than just checking a box. For my daughter, making sure she’s up-to-date on her vaccinations is at the top of our list.
School is a wonderful place for children to learn and grow. I’m so grateful to see Alana make new friends, new memories, and develop her personality and character with each new school year.
As great as her school is, I also know that she is young and vulnerable. I feel that it is my responsibility to prevent challenges she may experience at school and do all I can to protect her. I always take additional precautions when it comes to her. Sometimes, she thinks these precautions are silly, or worst case scenario, embarrassing. It is fair to say that she doesn’t always understand my methods or motives. Now, before I can even get the words out, she throws my line back at me. “Be a good girl,” she says to me as she jumps out of the car and rushes toward the door.
Vaccinations Keep Students Safe
I trust that her school is a pretty safe place for her to be, but I also know that the time she spends there can expose her to many things, both good and bad. My primary goal is to protect her from the two things I worry most about - bullies and diseases. These things have more in common than you would think. Both bullies and diseases prey on vulnerable children that may lack protection.
To combat bullies, I check Alana’s iPad and monitor her internet content regularly. This requires daily effort on my part, and it doesn’t provide her with 100% protection.
Vaccinations, however, protect our children from the invisible threats of nature’s bullies:- vaccine-preventable diseases. We, as parents, sometimes forget how valuable this protection is because the dangers of vaccine-preventable diseases are less visible. There was a time when infectious diseases plagued children across the United States, and parents were desperate for the protection that we are able to give to our children today.
Unvaccinated children are still at risk for contracting these diseases and spreading this exposure to other children and their families. Schools are a common place for this type of exposure.
All Recommended Vaccines, Not Just Required, Are Important for Good Health
Alana’s vaccinations do require some maintenance on my part, but it is easy to follow the schedule recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Her vaccination records show when vaccinations are complete, up-to-date, or past due. Currently, Alana is up-to-date on all recommended childhood vaccinations, but she won’t just receive those that are required for school.
When it is time, she will also receive the HPV vaccine to prevent cancer, yearly flu vaccine, and the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available to her.
Taking the time to make sure Alana is current on vaccinations gives her long-term protection against diseases. This gives me the opportunity to focus my energy on protecting her from other bullies.
Hopefully, I can also save her the embarrassment of infecting her friends and classmates. One day, I want people to write, “You are so cool!” in her yearbook, not, “Hey, remember when you gave me meningitis?”
Childhood Cancer Patients May Be Vulnerable
Making sure that children receive recommended vaccines also offers protection to children who have to delay or forego recommended vaccinations schedules due to illness, such as cancer treatment, or for other reasons. During and immediately after treatment, some cancer patients, for example, may delay recommended vaccines. This depends on the type of cancer treatment and the type of vaccine. These children may have weakened immune systems during and following treatment and may be at a higher risk of infection.
We can offer these children the protection they deserve by making sure that siblings and adults living in the household are up-to-date on vaccinations. We can also encourage the parents of extended family, friends, and classmates to make sure their children receive recommended vaccinations.
If your child has recently completed treatment, talk with your child’s provider about resuming recommended vaccinations. These vaccinations will be given on a catch-up schedule, which is perfectly normal for getting childhood cancer survivors up-to-date.
As we approach the 2021-2022 school year, prioritize your child’s vaccinations to keep all of our children safe at school and families and communities too.