Vaccines Help Protect Your Children
Many questions swirl around the Internet and other media about the importance or fear of vaccinating children. NewYork-Presbyterian Medical Group Queens pediatrician Dr. Gopi Desai, answers some important questions on the topic, particularly as we continue to deal with the coronavirus outbreak.
Are vaccinations necessary every year even when my children are not attending school?
Yes. Doctors believe vaccines, or immunizations, are a necessity for children during their formative years — they are designed to protect them from specific diseases. Even if they are not going to school, they can contract illnesses other ways. If they go with you to the grocery store, library, playground or cafe, you want to keep your children as safe and healthy as possible. This is especially important while there are still cases of people contracting the coronavirus.
“Before vaccines, many children got seriously ill and even died from diseases that these vaccines can now prevent. Illnesses such as measles, whooping cough and pneumonia are still around today,” says Dr. Desai. “But because of immunizations, the number of serious illnesses and deaths is much lower.”
Are doctors’ offices safe during the coronavirus outbreak?
Following CDC infection control guidelines, NewYork-Presbyterian medical groups have put extensive safety precautions into place to protect our patients.
- Disinfection and Cleaning: All of our offices are repeatedly disinfected every day, and exam rooms are meticulously cleaned between patients.
- Personal protective equipment: We follow strict CDC guidelines, and our staff wears proper personal protective equipment (PPE) at all times.
- Eliminating time in the waiting room: Forms and co-pays are processed remotely before your office visit. Therefore, when you arrive at the office, you will skip the front desk and waiting room and proceed directly to the exam room.
- Pre-screening for COVID-19: Prior to your appointment, you will be pre-screened over the phone for coronavirus symptoms, and then again once you arrive.
- Spacing out Appointments: We limit the number of patients being seen every day to further ensure safety.
Why are some people skeptical of immunizations?
Some people express a mistrust of immunizations for medical, ethical and/or legal reasons. Not vaccinating children, however, can contribute to an increase in outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases.
“Vaccines save lives,” emphasizes Dr. Desai. “They have been proven time and time again to be safe and effective at preventing diseases that can cause serious illnesses, long-term health conditions, disability, suffering and death.” Research backs this up. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that vaccinations will prevent more than 21 million hospitalizations and 732,000 deaths among children born in the last 20 years. That’s why physicians and public health officers rank vaccination programs as the foremost means of safeguarding your child’s health.
“The world has seen unprecedented consequences from the COVID-19 pandemic and we are hopeful that a safe and effective vaccine can be created” says Dr. Desai. “The goal is for people to receive vaccines to help prevent them from getting illnesses, rather than to treat the serious health consequences, such as those that we are seeing with the coronavirus.”
Should I encourage others to get their children vaccinated?
Yes. If a child is not able to get a vaccine because of an extremely rare medical condition, but all the other children she encounters have the vaccine and do not have the associated illness, then she will be safe. That is why social distancing is important now. We do not have the vaccine for the coronavirus, so we have to stay distanced. If children do not get immunized, we would have to social distance for our lifetimes. Ultimately, in order to keep your children as safe as possible, the success of immunization programs depends upon parents recognizing the importance and necessity for their children. The bottom line is that vaccinations are safe, and help give our children the healthiest possible start in life.
Learn more about Dr. Gopi Desai, pediatrician at NewYork-Presbyterian Medical Group Queens, or to make an appointment, call (718) 670-2899.