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Staying up-to-date on the recommended vaccines helps families protect their children from the most serious illnesses.

Vaccines offer effective protection from the major infectious diseases.  Because children are especially vulnerable to infection, most vaccines begin in their first year.  Dr. Craig Batterman, assistant professor of pediatrics at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield, says children starting school are required to have specific vaccinations. 

SOUND BITE:    “At the four to six age group, we typically do a tetanus and whooping cough booster.  We do a polio booster, measles, mumps and rubella, or the MMR, and then chicken pox vaccine, which is called the Varivax.   And then the older age group also gets a tetanus booster at typically at 11 years old . . .”

Vaccines are responsible for small pox being eradicated and for diseases such as polio, measles and rubella to nearly disappear as a public health threat in the U.S.  Whooping cough, which had been dormant for many years, has recently returned in many areas, so the vaccine is now being recommended for older children, says Dr. Batterman.

SOUND BITE:   “They have now added that in, so now so the tetanus shot you get actually contains tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis.  And this is to boost that older age group so they don’t bring the whooping cough home to younger family members who might not be as well protected, especially infants.”

Dr. Batterman says vaccines are safe and he urges parents to make sure their children get the required vaccinations at the scheduled times.  If they have questions about vaccines, they should talk to their primary care physician, pediatrician or local public health department. 

This is Ruth Slottag at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield.