Every August, the National Safety Council and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention observe National Immunization Awareness Month. Despite the importance of vaccination, not every child is receiving the necessary regular doses.
As ABC News reported in March 2016, some 2.1 million children nationwide don't receive their immunizations due to issues with the public health system. That's not counting the children of parents who opt out: According to a 2015 report by CNN, parents make this choice for a wide array of personal reasons, including religious or philosophical exemptions and a misunderstanding of how these shots work.
"Over 2.1 million children nationwide go without immunizations."
If you want to ensure your child remains protected, here are six tips to keep in mind:
1. Keep proper records
It's important to make sure you and your family are always up to date on immunizations. However, it can be hard to keep track of personal records. That's why the CDC has an entire website dedicated to finding and maintaining these essential records. For instance, many states have registries that can track adult records. Some doctors also participate in an immunization registry, and you can ask every shot be logged. There are even a few online solutions that allow you access to your records anywhere, anytime.
2. Stay educated
As mentioned above, some parents opt out of getting their children regular boosters simply because they don't understand the importance or effect of these shots. Fortunately, the CDC has a few different resources for parents. The first is an "Instant Childhood Immunization Schedule," which provides a list of shots based on the child's age. And if you're not sure about the side effects and benefits of each shot, there is also a series of vaccine information statements. Knowledge is power when it comes to health care, and you need to stay as current as possible.
3. Be a source of comfort
Though not nearly as common, some younger kids never receive shots because of how they behave in the doctor's office. It's natural for children to be afraid, but it's your job as a parent to comfort them and ensure their health maintains priority. It's important to tell your children the truth that they may experience some slight pinching or stinging. But it's just as vital that you hold their hands and speak in a calm and soothing tone. Also, never apologize; these shots may hurt but they're an important part of personal health.
4. Don't forget!
As the U.K.'s National Health Services explained, there are some considerations that parents never think of during vaccination time. One of the biggest is wearing the right clothing. Adults and children alike should avoid overly bulky clothes or items with a lot of buttons – anything that might reduce access to the main immunization area (arms and thighs for babies under a year). While vaccinations don't hurt in the long term, some kids may still need a painkiller for the accompanying fever. Ibuprofen is generally the best choice, especially if your child just received the shot for meningitis B.
Whenever you or your family need immunizations, you can always head to your local CareWell Urgent Care Center. With facilities across the Eastern Seaboard, CareWell can provide a fast and pain-free experience for people of all ages.