August is Immunization Awareness Month

Thanks to immunizations over the last three generations, many serious diseases are now a thing of the past. But recent outbreaks of measles — infecting more than 1,000 people nationwide — have prompted discussion and legislative action surrounding vaccinations in California. What do parents need to know now about vaccinations?

In the recent past, most people in the U.S. were routinely immunized. This has helped to drastically reduce the occurrence of serious and sometimes fatal diseases such as polio, diphtheria and smallpox. Although the widespread use of vaccinations during infancy and childhood protects both young and old from these and other infectious diseases, the threat of their possible return remains. When fewer people are protected from disease, it can lead to greater numbers of people contracting and spreading that disease.

The state of California requires immunization for children to attend public or private schools or daycare, and schools are required to check a child’s records before admitting him or her. If a child has a medical reason for not receiving vaccinations, a doctor can excuse the child from immunization either temporarily or permanently. However, the Senate recently approved SB276, which allows the California Department of Health to monitor and limit vaccine exemptions with the goal of maintaining “community immunity,” according to Senator Richard Pan.

While the American Academy of Pediatrics and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommend following an immunization schedule from infancy, some parents may have concerns about vaccinations. To make an informed decision, it is important to learn the facts and speak to your child’s medical practitioner about any concerns you may have. For more information on immunizations, visit the California Department of Public Health.

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