Parents agree that feeding and sleep schedules are important to keep their children healthy. The same goes for childhood immunizations. Vaccinating children on time is the best way to protect them against 14 serious and potentially deadly diseases before their second birthday.

“The recommended immunization schedule was developed to protect infants early in life – a time when they are the most vulnerable and before they have the chance to be exposed to diseases,” said Darlene Robinson, immunization program manager with the Jackson County Department of Public Health.

Public health and medical experts base their vaccine recommendations on many factors. They study information about diseases and vaccines very carefully to decide which vaccines kids should get and when they should get them for best protection.

Although the number of vaccines a child needs in the first two years may seem like a lot, doctors know a great deal about the human immune system, and they know that a healthy baby’s immune system can handle getting all vaccines when they are recommended. The Jackson County Department of Public Health cautions against parents delaying vaccination as there is no known benefit to delaying.

“Delaying puts babies at risk of getting sick because they are left vulnerable to catch serious diseases during the time they are not protected by vaccines,” Robinson said.

When parents choose not to vaccinate or to follow a delayed schedule, children are left unprotected against diseases that still circulate in this country, like measles and whooping cough.

As of April 11, 555 individual cases of measles have been confirmed in 20 states according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This number has already surpassed the number of cases seen in all of 2018 (372 cases).

CDC attributes these measles outbreaks to an increase in the number of travelers who get measles abroad and bring it to the U.S. as well as the further spread of measles in U.S. communities with pockets of unvaccinated people.

Parents who are concerned about the number of shots given at one time can reduce the number given at a visit by using the flexibility built into the recommended immunization schedule. For example, the third dose of hepatitis B vaccine can be given at 6 through 18 months of age. Parents can work with their child’s healthcare professional to have their child get this dose at any time during that age range.

For questions about vaccinations, call the Jackson County Department of Public Health at 587-8289 or visit http://health.jacksonnc.org/immunizations.