By: Laura-Jane Hatcher (WRGA News)
It’s National Infant immunization Week, and, in the face of a growing Measles epidemic in the United Kingdom, Northwest Georgia Public Health officials are urging all parents to get their children vaccinated.
According to Janet Eberhart, Immunization Coordinator for NWGA Health, proper immunization protects children from 14 serious, but preventable diseases before the age of two.
Vaccines are our most successful and cost-effective public health tool available to prevent disease and death. They not only protect vaccinated individuals, but they also protect our entire community by preventing and reducing the spread of these infectious diseases,” Eberhart says. “There are so many people traveling now-a-days overseas. In the United Kingdom, they’re still having issues with measles and mumps. So when people travel and come back---those who are not vaccinated are at risk for these diseases and spreading them.”
More than 800 cases of the measles have been reported in the UK, which, the Wall Street Journal Reports, health officials have at least partially attributed to the ‘Wakefield’ legacy.
Around 1998, confidence in vaccines wavered all across the developed world when a study by Dr. Andrew Wakefield suggested a possible link between Autism and immunizations. Though the paper was discredited and Wakefield was banned from practicing medicine, Logan Boss, spokesman for NWGA Public Health, says fears still persist today through both America and the UK.
“The fallout from that study still exists. It causes some people to think there might be a relationship between exposure to Thiomersal, which is a mercury-containing preservative that now is really only found in some of Flu vaccines, but some people still think there’s still a connection between that and Autism,” Boss says. “All the studies that have been conducted since that original study show there is no link between childhood vaccinations and Autism.”
Several health departments in Northwest Georgia will be celebrating this week by encouraging childhood and infant immunizations. Catoosa County will host a Kids’ Day on Saturday and offer free vaccines and health screenings to those who qualify. The Bartow County Health Department will give each child vaccinated this week ice-cream and a gift bag.