A workout for your child's immune system
We usually start immunizations at around 6 to 10 weeks of age. Immunizations are one of the best things we do in pediatrics. Their use has resulted in the disappearance of many horrible diseases that used to kill and cripple children frequently. Meningitis for instance, an infection of the brain, was a much bigger problem at the beginning of my career, affecting several dozen children in my own practice in the 1980s and ‘90s but not even one in the last 12 years. That’s because of the development and use of effective immunizations against hemophilus and the pneumococcus.
If you wouldn’t dream of driving around the block without using a car seat, then you shouldn’t send your child out under the warm sunny skies of California without protection against the everpresent, albeit unseen, infectious agents that are a constant in our urban environment. Some people think kids need exposure to these germs in order for their immune system to develop. But the immune system is being exposed to germs at all times, and in fact, immunizations are a type of exposure and strengthen that system. So while there's plenty of opportunity for your child's immune system to flex its muscles and develop in the real world, immunizations are like taking it to the gym for a workout. Don't let your baby's immune system be a couch potato!
As of July 1, 2016, state law requires that you immunize your child in order for him or her to attend any school, public or private, in California. Immunizations are required for these diseases:
Polio (infantile paralysis)
Measles (104-degree fever for a week, general misery, sometimes brain damage, sometimes fatal)
Mumps (can cause sterility)
Rubella (can cause problems like Zika)
Pertussis (Whooping Cough)
The only way to legally avoid these immunizations is to home-school your child.
If you are home-schooling and decide not to immunize your child, you will have to choose another pediatrician. I hope you’ll stay with me though, and take advantage of this simple yet life-preserving technology.
For a detailed list of immunizations required under the new law, you can visit the California Department of Education's Immunization and Health Checkups page by clicking here.
For an article I wrote in The Jewish Journal about why all of my patients must be vaccinated, click here.
For information about immunizations for teens, click here.