There are a variety of reasons parents do not have their children vaccinated. Some lack insurance and figure they can not afford to take their child for regular doctor visits. Others have read stories linking vaccinations to autism, and are afraid of risking side effects.
Cultural differences may foster an inherent distrust of vaccinations, and residency status makes some immigrant families fearful of going to the doctor. Whatever the reason, one thing is certain. Getting children their required shots is one of the best things a parent can do to protect their children's health.
For many parents, the issue is not lack of access to vaccinations, it is an inherent distrust of the safety of vaccines. A decade-old study indicated a link between the common measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine and the increased prevalence of autism. This study was recently medically discredited. Numerous studies and many years of experience with millions of children have demonstrated that modern vaccines are safe and effective and critically important to maintaining public health.
The medical community has seen a recent increase in contagious diseases that were once controlled through vaccinations. With modern means of travel, infected individuals can spread a contagious disease across the nation, or around the world very quickly. Parents need to do their part to ensure that their children are protected, and to keep these diseases in check.
In addition to the importance of childhood vaccination, Fidelis Care is always mindful that approximately 343,000 children in New York State do not have health insurance. There simply is no reason for this. Almost every child in the state is entitled to free or low-cost health insurance coverage through New York State's Child Health Plus program, which covers checkups and all required vaccinations, regardless of family income.
In recognition of National Infant Immunization Week, I encourage all parents - Fidelis Care members and non-members alike - to speak with their child's doctor and ensure that their child's vaccinations are up-to-date.
Sanjiv Shah, M.D. is Chief Medical Officer for Fidelis Care.