Prevent illness with vaccines

Dr. Andrew Sama
President, American Academy of Emergency Physicians

No one likes getting shots. It especially can be uncomfortable for small children and their parents who bring them to the doctor – at least for a few minutes.  But getting a child properly immunized is one of the most important decisions a parent can make for the safety and welfare of his or her child.

Vaccinations are essential to decreasing the risks of serious diseases and infections. They not only help keep children safer and healthier, but they also help stop the spread of deadly, preventable diseases.

August is National Immunization Awareness Month. Emergency physicians see patients every day who are not appropriately immunized. ACEP recognizes that vaccine-preventable infectious diseases have an effect on the health of adults and children.

The nation’s emergency physicians urge all parents and guardians to work with their primary care physicians, including pediatricians, to make sure everyone in their family is up-to-date on all necessary vaccinations and to set up a vaccination schedule.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that children younger than 2 years of age can be protected from 14 potentially serious diseases with vaccines.

One of the first shots a child will get is for hepatitis B. This is a virus that causes liver damage over time. Each year 3,000 to 5,000 people in the United States die from a liver disease caused by hepatitis B.

By the time a child is 2 years old, they should have been vaccinated for chickenpox, measles, whooping cough, tetanus, polio, flu as well as others. For a complete immunization schedule, please go to this CDC link

Both children and adults should also receive an annual flu shot. This can eliminate or dramatically decrease the threat of getting influenza, which can be life threatening.

ACEP urges everyone to print and complete a Personal Medical History form for you and your family and keep it in a safe place.  You can download a form at

-- ACEP is the national medical specialty society representing emergency medicine. ACEP is committed to advancing emergency care through continuing education, research and public education.

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