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Health & Exercise Forum

Childhood vaccines are safe and critical

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Jun 19, 2017

Childhood Vaccinations Are Safe & Critical …for the health of your child and the children in your community! BE WISE…IMMUNIZE!

Dennis Dawgert, M.D.

Dennis Dawgert, M.D.

Contributor: Dennis Dawgert, MD

Dr Dawgert Graduated from the University if Scranton Attended Med school at St Louis Universality and did his residency training in Pediatrics at Cardinal Glennon Memorial Hospital for Children In St Louis. After serving 2 years in the National Health Corps Service,he Moved back to Scranton where he and Dr Thomas Zukoski formed Pediatrics of NE PA. which has provided pediatric care to Scranton area since 1977. He retired in 2015 from active practice and has been teaching part time at Geisinger Commonwealth Medical College. He is interested In the Adverse Childhood Experience studies and its Effects On Health.

This column is a monthly feature of “Health & Exercise Forum” in association with the students and faculty of Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine.

If you do not read any further than this sentence, know this: childhood vaccinations are scientifically proven to be  safe and critical for the health of your child and the children in your community!

Progress in infant mortality continues globally according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries the infant mortality rate was approximately 50% world-wide. In 1960 it improved to 18% and in 2015 4.3%. In 2014,  the infant mortality rates in the United States were 24 deaths per 100,000 for ages 1-4 and 12.7 deaths per 100,000 for ages 5-14 and the leading cause of death was accidental. Most scientists feel the reason for such dramatic improvement in the death rates of infants and children is multifaceted, however, childhood vaccinations is key among them.

Diseases once thought to be common and deadly around the world are now preventable by vaccination. Some of these include small pox, polio, measles, diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), rubella (German measles), mumps, tetanus, and others. It is estimated that millions of lives have been saved due to the advances in vaccinations. While concerns regarding the safety of childhood vaccinations in isolated segments of the private sector have received media attention, careful scientific and public health research has proven these claims invalid.

What is immunity? 

According to the CDC, immunity is the natural method in which the body prevents disease. Children are born with all the essential elements to comprise an immune system such as; cells, glands, organs, and protective fluids. Infants are born with antibodies from their mothers (and additional protection with nursing), however, this immunity is lost after the first year of life. When a foreign body (also called and antigen) enters the body, the immune system recognizes it as such and reacts by producing a protein to fight it (antibodies).

How does immunity work?

When a child is affected with an antigen (measles virus) for the first time, the immune system springs into action to produce antibodies naturally. However, the child becomes ill from the virus because the body cannot produce antibodies quickly enough to prevent the illness. Immunity occurs during the exposure because the body remembers the invading antigen and if it invades the body again, it will be equipped to produce enough antibodies to adequately fight the antigen and prevent reoccurrence of the disease.

What is a vaccine? 

A vaccine contains the actual antigen of the desired disease to be prevented. For example, the measles vaccine contains the actual measles virus. It can be a whole or partial and weakened to a point of being harmless or dead. The beauty of the treatment is that a child will get enough exposure to build up defenses from the disease without receiving enough to become ill…immunity without illness!


The CDC’s List of Five Important Reasons to Vaccinate Your Child:

You want to do what is best for your children. You know about the importance of car seats, baby gates and other ways to keep them safe. But, did you know that one of the best ways to protect your children is to make sure they have all of their vaccinations? According to the CDC there are at least five compelling reasons to vaccinate your child:

  1. Immunizations can save your child’s life.

Because of advances in medical science, your child can be protected against more diseases than ever before. Some diseases that once injured or killed thousands of children, have been eliminated completely and others are close to extinction– primarily due to safe and effective vaccines. Polio is one example of the great impact that vaccines had have in the United States. Polio was once America’s most-feared disease, causing death and paralysis across the country, but today, thanks to vaccination, there are no reports of polio in the United States.

  1. Vaccination is very safe and effective.

Vaccines are only given to children after a long and careful review by scientists, doctors, and healthcare professionals. Vaccines will involve some discomfort and may cause pain, redness, or tenderness at the site of injection but this is minimal compared to the pain, discomfort, and trauma of the diseases these vaccines prevent. Serious side effects following vaccination, such as severe allergic reaction, are very rare. The disease-prevention benefits of getting vaccines are much greater than the possible side effects for almost all children.

  1. Immunization protects others you care about.  

Children in the U.S. still get vaccine-preventable diseases. In fact, we have seen resurgences of measles and whooping cough (pertussis) over the past few years. Since 2010, there have been between 10,000 and 50,000 cases of whooping cough each year in the United States and about 10 to 20 babies, many of which were too young to be fully vaccinated, died each year. While some babies are too young to be protected by vaccination, others may not be able to receive certain vaccinations due to severe allergies, weakened immune systems from conditions like leukemia, or other reasons. To help keep them safe, it is important that you and your children who are able to get vaccinated are fully immunized.  This not only protects your family, but also helps prevent the spread of these diseases to your friends and loved ones.

  1. Immunizations can save your family time and money.

A child with a vaccine-preventable disease can be denied attendance at schools or child care facilities. Some vaccine-preventable diseases can result in prolonged disabilities and can take a financial toll because of lost time at work, medical bills or long-term disability care. In contrast, getting vaccinated against these diseases is a good investment and usually covered by insurance. The Vaccines for Children program is a federally funded program that provides vaccines at no cost to children from low-income families. To find out more about the VFC program, visit or ask your child’s health care professional.

  1. Immunization protects future generations.

Vaccines have reduced and, in some cases, eliminated many diseases that killed or severely disabled people just a few generations ago. For example, smallpox vaccination eradicated that disease worldwide. Your children don’t have to get smallpox shots anymore because the disease no longer exists. By vaccinating children against rubella (German measles), the risk that pregnant women will pass this virus on to their fetus or newborn has been dramatically decreased, and birth defects associated with that virus no longer are seen in the United States. If we continue vaccinating now, and vaccinating completely, parents in the future may be able to trust that some diseases of today will no longer be around to harm their children in the future.

In conclusion, childhood vaccinations are scientifically proven to be  safe and critical for the health of your child and the children in your community!

For more information visit:

NEXT MONDAY – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum” in the Scranton Times-Tribune.

This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email:

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at Geisinger Commowealth School of Medicine.