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  • Vaccine Benefits for Children Far Outweigh Risks

  • Doctors are noting a small but worrisome trend in parental attitudes toward immunizing their children.

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    A number of dangerous illnesses have seemed to disappear because of the immense success of childhood vaccinations. As a result, some parents believe that the immunizations pose a greater danger to their children than the diseases they will prevent.

    Nothing could be farther from the truth, according to Georges Peter, MD, director of Rhode Island Hospital's division of pediatric infectious diseases and professor of pediatrics at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. "Childhood immunization and its resulting dramatic impact on serious childhood infections is one of the great success stories of modern medicine," he said. "However, if we don't continue to immunize the 11,000 babies born each day in the United States, diseases like measles, Hib, meningitis, congenital rubella and diphtheria can return-with a vengeance. The benefits of vaccinations far outweigh the risks."

    Rhode Island ranked first in the nation in the percentage of its young children who have been fully immunized, according to a survey by the Centers for Disease Control. 

    Peter cites the dedication of the state's pediatricians, as well as the Rhode Island Department of Health for this exemplary achievement in childhood immunization. The free immunization clinic at Hasbro Children's Hospital, is another weapon in the fight against childhood infectious diseases. The clinic administers vaccines to all children not covered by health insurance. A particular goal at the clinic is an outreach to new arrivals from other states and countries, although all uninsured children are welcome. Parents seeking more information should call the Lifespan Health Connection at 401-444-4800 or visit the CDC online.

    Parents who are unsure about their child's status are urged to call their pediatricians. Here's a recommended schedule for types and timing of childhood immunizations.