Vaccinations are an important part not only of a child's health, but public health overall.
Those who still need proof need look no further than the recent spread of diseases that had once been wiped from the face of most developed nations by vaccination programs.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state Health Department recently asked New Yorkers to make sure they had been immunized for measles after the number of measles cases in 2014 climbed to the state's highest level since 1996. The single best way to prevent measles is to be vaccinated. Chautauqua County, meanwhile, has lately been battling bouts of whooping cough. According to the county Health Department's 2012 annual report, the department faced 124 cases of whooping cough - and the problem has persisted for the last two years.
Many prescribe such outbreaks to the movement against vaccinations, a movement that began in part with a 1990 study British study linking vaccinations to the spread of autism. That study was debunked, but hasn't stopped the anti-vaccine movement from being spread by celebrities like Jenny McCarthy, Kristin Cavallari and Alicia Silverstone.
Chautauqua County does pretty well with childhood vaccines. The county Health Department's 2013-14 Community Health Survey reports relatively high rates of immunization according to a 2008-09 New York State School Immunization Survey. That document states 93 percent of county students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade were completely immunized, a rate that matches the state average. Vaccination rates include 97 percent for diphtheria, 96 percent for polio, 94 percent for measles, 95 percent for rubella, 95 percent for mumps, 96 percent for Hepatitis B and 94 percent for chicken pox.
Adults can be a different case. Specific adult vaccinations recommended depend on such factors as age, lifestyle, health conditions, locations of travel and previous immunizations. The Centers for Disease Control recommend seasonal flu vaccines, tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough for adults who haven't previously received a Tdap vaccine; shingles, pneumococcal disease for adults 65 years and older and adults with specific health conditions hepatitis B infection for adults who have diabetes or are at risk for hepatitis B; and possibly human papillomavirus, which can cause certain cancers; hepatitis A, meningococcal disease, chickenpox and measles, mumps and rubella.
There is little logical reason for measles and whooping cough to be problems in 21st century society. Hopefully, these public health warnings will be a reminder that vaccinations are just as important for adults as they are for children.