Periodically, media stories suggest that vaccines could cause long-term harm to children, but there is no scientific evidence to support that idea. Vaccines are an important part of keeping your child healthy. They are integral to protecting your child from illness, helping to prevent him or her from missing school.
What we don’t want is a resurgence of any disease, let alone diseases that are preventable. Some of these could require hospitalization, which no parent wants to put their child through – especially when we have the medical resources to help keep them from contracting these diseases in the first place.
Meningitis & Tdap Vaccination
At their 11-year-old checkup, children typically receive a meningitis shot and tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap) vaccination:
- Tetanus can cause painful muscle tightening and stiffness. It can also lead to the tightening of the muscles in the head and neck, which can prevent you from opening your mouth, swallowing and sometimes even breathing. Tetanus is fatal for about 1-in-5 people who are infected with it. Tetanus enters the body through cuts, deep scratches or other wounds.
- Diphtheria causes a thick coating to form in the back of the throat. It can ultimately cause breathing problems, paralysis, heart failure and death. Diphtheria is bacterial and spreads from person to person through coughing or sneezing.
- Pertussis, which is commonly known as Whooping Cough, causes severe coughing. This can lead to breathing problems, vomiting and disturbed sleep. Complications of pertussis can lead to hospitalization with pneumonia, and the disease can cause death. As with diphtheria, pertussis is bacterial and spreads from person to person through coughing and sneezing.
The meningitis vaccine is recommended at age 11 and then again at 16. It is a requirement in Texas for college entry.
Stop the Spread of Flu
While we’re talking about vaccinations, I also want to stress how important it us that anyone over 6 months get a flu shot. More than 200,000 people, including children, are hospitalized from seasonal flu-related complications each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Some die. That’s a heavy price to pay considering that the side effects associated with the flu shot are usually no more than slight discomfort at the injection site.
Do you have questions or concerns about vaccinations? Leave a comment and join the conversation!
Dr. Jennifer Lai is a board-certified pediatrician at Kelsey-Seybold’s Spring Medical and Diagnostic Center. She’s accepting appointments for kids of all ages. Her clinical interests include general Pediatrics, newborns, autism, and obesity.