The first polio epidemic in the U.S. didn’t happen in the 1950s. It happened in 1894, killing 18 people and permanently disabling 132. Each year, each outbreak worsened and by the early 1950’s, nearly 60,000 children would be infected each year. When the vaccine against this deadly, debilitating disease was formulated and widely distributed, the vast majority of parents protected their children. Just like smallpox before it, the polio vaccine worked so well that polio was declared eliminated from North and South America in 1994.
For generations now, including of course here at Alzein Pediatrics, children have received vaccines to protect them against polio, tetanus, diphtheria, chicken pox, measles, mumps, whooping cough, and a host of other diseases.
Unfortunately, there are always some who distrust the vaccinations, falsely blaming vaccines for any number of disorders. There was an anti-vaccination minority as early as 1802 and an Anti-Vaccine Society was formed in the late 1800s. Some people simply won’t trust vaccines because they are supported by the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) and they simply distrust the government.
Then came COVID-19. Given the reach of this virus across the globe, governments and companies cooperated fully, sharing information, data and results to adapt existing formulas – developed over a decade of research – for a new, especially deadly strain of the very familiar SARS virus, COVID-19. Because of this unprecedented cooperation, the vaccine was accomplished in about eleven months. By early 2021, many people were getting their first dose of the vaccine.
People who were delighted to get the vaccine fell largely into three categories:
- I’m getting the vaccine because this virus can kill me and my loved ones and this is the best way to protect myself and my community.
- I’m getting the vaccine because “better safe than sorry,” even though I’m healthy now.
- I’m not really convinced COVID is much worse than the flu, but my workplace requires it and I can’t go out for dinner or to a movie unless I’m vaccinated.
As always, there were those who were vaccine hesitant or vaccine resistant. The hesitant or resistant generally fell into these three categories:
- My race has been systematically discriminated against and I’m taking a “wait and see” approach
- Because it was developed so quickly, there is no way this vaccine is safe
- I follow this person on social media and they say COVID-19 and the vaccine is a huge government scam. I’m not going to fall for this.
In time, the people in the first and second categories realized the vaccine was saving lives and were willing to get immunized. It’s the last category that is such a concern. Tragically, in this time of rapid-fire, wide-spreading social media, people saw an opportunity to make lots of money by spreading lies about both COVID-19 and the vaccine, targeting those who were unsure.
Nearly every single conspiracy theory, rumor and negative “data” have been tracked back to the “disinformation dozen,” just 12 social media sites. From the beginning of the pandemic, continuing even as refrigerated trucks were standing in as morgues due to the thousands of people that were dying every day and until this very day, these sites posted conspiracies and “misinformation.” Because many people were scared, often very angry and looking for all the information they could find, this attracted more and more visits to their websites. Those visits counts were then used to attract high-paying advertisers and subscribers. The more outrageous the claim, the more people visited the site and the more money this dozen made.
The need for boosters has raised “red flags” for the vaccine hesitant and vaccine deniers. In reality, COVID-19 is a living virus and is proof positive of “survival of the fittest.” When the virus keeps spreading from unvaccinated person to unvaccinated person, it also mutates, evolving to become immune to the existing vaccine, proving “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” The simple fact is that if everyone eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine got it, the virus would have a much more difficult time mutating.
This year, the flu season is expected to be very severe and COVID-19 is expected to surge. These two respiratory illnesses are also joined by another this autumn, as RSV cases are already filling pediatric wards and hospitals.
You can protect your child, 6 months and older, from two of these illnesses, protecting their lungs and their long-term health. Per the CDC, studies show the flu vaccine can reduce the risk of flu by 40% to 60%. Even if your child gets the flu after they’ve been vaccinated, the flu vaccination has been shown in several studies to reduce severity of illness. A 2014 study showed that flu vaccine reduced children’s risk of flu-related pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) admission by 74% during flu seasons. The COVID-19 vaccine will protect your child from both the original and newer COVID variants.
Get Flu and COVID-19 Vaccine for Your Child in Chicago, IL
Make an appointment at one of our Alzein Pediatrics upcoming flu shot clinics to get your child protected from the flu. If your child needs both the flu and COVID-19 vaccine, make an appointment for those.
If you have questions about any vaccination or your child’s health, just send us a message or call our office at 708-424-7600. We are always happy to help!