If you happen to drive by Fire Station #2 in Aurora on a certain Saturday of the month, you might see a long line of families extending from the entry way. Once a month, immunizations are provided at little to no cost at this fire station through Shots for Tots and Teens program to help ensure that everyone has an opportunity to live a safe, healthy life free from vaccine-preventable disease.
On a recent Saturday, I had the privilege of attending the event myself. Here’s what happened.
By Elizabeth Abbott
Just over 30 years ago, at 15 months of age, I was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis as a result of Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) infection. The vaccine that protects against Hib had not yet been introduced. At that time, Hib was the leading cause of bacterial meningitis among children under five years of age in the U.S. Each year, about 20,000 children under five years got severe Hib disease, and about 1,000 died. As many as 1 out of 5 children survivors of Hib meningitis end up with brain damage or become deaf.
Since vaccine introduction in the late 1980s, the number of cases of invasive Hib disease has decreased by more than 99 percent. By 2012, less than 50 U.S. cases of Hib disease occurred each year in children under five, and most cases we see today are the result of parents choosing not to vaccinate. While some parents may believe their child is not at risk of rare Hib infection, the bacteria still exists and can cause severe harm through the diseases it causes.
In honor of World Meningitis Day (April 24) and National Infant Immunization Week (April 18-25), I sat down with my beautiful mother to remember the “traumatic experience” she faced as her child overcame this life-threatening illness. Read more
Goodbye, March. Hello, April! With cold weather behind us and the active flu season slowing down, April brings a renewed, hopeful focus on health. In fact, April boasts FOUR immunization-related observances. Read more
This month marked the launch of a new movement that serves to highlight that which is well-known but seldom stated: vaccination adds value to our lives. The Value of Vaccination (valueofvaccination.org) is calling attention to the benefits that vaccines bring to every community. The initiative features personal stories, videos demonstrating the positive impacts of vaccination, and easy-to-understand guides to the science behind vaccines and the immune system. The goal is to encourage conversation at home, at work, and at school about the value of vaccination. Read more