Senior pediatricians remember how common and devastating diseases were before vaccines were available to protect children
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is recognizing National Immunization Awareness Month this August with a series, "Medicine Before Vaccines,"
written by senior pediatricians reminding parents what pediatric
medicine was like before immunizations were available to protect against
diseases like chickenpox, measles, meningitis and human papillomavirus.
“Vaccines are one of the most important measures
families can take to protect their children from deadly diseases that not long ago caused suffering for thousands of U.S. children. In this first-person article series, some of the
Academy's most-distinguished senior members remind parents that
vaccines are safe and save many lives," said Sandra M. Hassink, MD,
FAAP, AAP president. "Immunizations are one of the most effective tools
we have in medicine. National Immunization Awareness Month is a good
reminder of how important it is for children to receive all their
The AAP will publish the first-person
stories on HealthyChildren.org throughout the month of August.
Journalists who would like an advance look at the series, or an
interview with a pediatrician, should contact AAP Media Relations.
In the first-person articles
, pediatricians speak powerfully about how common and devastating many vaccine-preventable diseases once were:"I
saw kids die of measles encephalitis and pneumonia from a local Amish
community. It was one of the hardest nights I had as a pediatrician,
sitting next to a bed of a 1-year-old Amish child. I worked for hours
administering a medication to reduce swelling of the brain, but after a
while, the child stopped responding to the treatments and passed away." - Kathleen Braico, MD, FAAPI
vividly remember how sick the children [suffering with measles] were,
and I also remember the worried expressions that those parents had. They
felt worried and helpless, and they had a right to feel worried,
because some of these children died. I can tell you that the doctors
were just as worried as the parents, because we could not do much. We
had no tools to fight or prevent the disease." - Olson Huff, MD FAAP Children
suffered the consequences of HIB. About 20 percent died and another 20
percent were left with permanent damage, including severe seizure
disorders, hearing loss, learning disabilities and mental retardation.
This may seem incredible today due to the success of immunizations, but
it was a sad reality in the early years of my service as a pediatrician.
… The vaccine is truly a blessing!" - Lance Chilton, MD, FAAP "During
the over 15 years that I served as a member of the North Carolina
Senate, I was chair or co-chair of the Senate Health Care Committee. In
every session of the Senate, I had meetings with organizations and
individuals who wanted to weaken North Carolina laws regarding vaccines
and to add exceptions to requirements for immunizations. My personal
experiences as well as scientific evidence so strongly supported the
value of immunizations; I never allowed their legislation to advance.
For this action I make no apologies. - State Sen. William R. Purcell, MD, FAAP
The AAP has also produced an infographic
providing impressive statistics and answering important questions about immunizations for parents.
The statistics include:
- Out of 1,000 U.S. children who will catch the measles, one to three of them will die.
average number of annual cases of measles in the 20th century in the
United States was over a half million. In 2010, thanks to successful
vaccines, there were only 63 cases.
- 38 percent of children younger than 5 years who had measles required hospitalization.
- 85 percent of babies born to mothers who had rubella in the first trimester will have birth defects.
- More than 95 percent of people who receive measles, mumps and rubella vaccine become immune to all three diseases.
The AAP publishes Recommended Immunization Schedules
to help parents discuss vaccines with their pediatricians. Visit HealthyChildren.org for comprehensive information on National Immunization Awareness Month
with links to resources and information.
American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 64,000 primary
care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric
surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of
infants, children, adolescents and young adults.
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