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Patiently Waiting for MMR Vaccine

In honor of National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW), April 18-25, 2015, our friend and guest teammate shares why vaccines are important for protecting her infant and keeping her family of five healthy.

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My husband keeps asking me, “When does BabyGirl get her shots?”

“At six months,” I remind him.

“Measles?” he’ll ask again.

“Not until she’s at least a year old.”

“So we’re waiting on pins and needles for six more months?” he’ll ask. What struck me most about this exchange between my husband and me was that he couldn’t tell you when the next dance recital is, when to sign up for Hogwarts camp, which applesauce is too chunky, or even when our infant’s next well-child visit is, but he was asking when she would receive her MMR vaccine. This vaccine will protect her from measles, mumps and rubella. Although we aren’t actually waiting on pins and needles for this vaccine, we are concerned about the measles outbreak reported daily in the news. I do know my infant will not have any immunity to measles until she’s at least a year old. Normally, I wouldn’t give much thought to that fact, but now my attention is piqued.

My daughter’s chances of being exposed to measles are small. But, those chances are greater than when our oldest daughter was six months old. In 2000, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that measles was eliminated from the United States. Just eight years later in 2008, CDC reported 140 cases of the disease, which at that point represented the largest annual total in the U.S. since 1996. Alarmingly, by April 17, only four months into 2015, there already have been 147 cases of measles reported.

For the record, I’m not prone to panic. We do keep our infant at home and away from large crowds as much as we can. This task can be difficult with soccer, sibling play dates and Sunday brunches. All three of my daughters are healthy, active kids, who get all their vaccinations on time. However, our infant and her sisters are in day care and school and are, therefore, surrounded by millions of germs. I’ve checked the immunization exemption rates at their schools and am assured the high immunization rates among their schoolmates will help protect them from vaccine-preventable diseases.

But we can’t control or know about all our environments. We are trying to plan a summer vacation—our first as a family of five. We want to find a sunny beach where we can play and relax together for a few days. But going on a vacation means airports and recycled air, hotels, restaurants and crowded beaches. Sometimes I even dream of an international destination so our infant would be eligible to get her MMR vaccine before we head out of town[2]. But then the reality of international travel with three kids ages 6 years and under sets in, which stops me in my tracks from exploring any online travel pages!

My husband and I eagerly wait for our daughter’s first dose of MMR vaccine. Once she receives this vaccine, I’ll feel much better knowing she is protected. As for our summer plans – guess we’ll just hang out at the pool, go to the Denver Zoo and perhaps spend a week in the mountains. But look out Summer 2016; a great adventure awaits our family!

To learn more about National Infant Immunization Week and how you can celebrate the critical role vaccination plays in protecting our children, communities, and public health, visit the CDC website.

 

[2] Children traveling abroad should be vaccinated at an earlier age than children remaining in the United States if their travel schedule requires departure prior to the usual dosing of vaccines. Children aged 6–11 months should receive 1 dose of MMR vaccine. Infants vaccinated before age 12 months should be vaccinated with 2 additional doses of MMR or MMRV vaccine on or after the first birthday, according to the routinely recommended schedule.

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