Melissa Fettig, First District Health Unit, Immunization Coordinator, Minot
Most medical professionals in our community agree that immunizations are one of the greatest advances in modern medicine. We have many immunization providers in our community. Adults and children can receive vaccinations from medical providers, public health and some pharmacies. These providers must address a growing trend on a regular basis the trend of parents refusing to vaccinate their children. Often the parents' decision is a result of information promoted by people known as anti-vaccinators. Anti-vaccination propaganda can confuse individuals about their medical providers' recommendations.
There are many common misconceptions about vaccinations. The most significant misconception is that vaccinations are unsafe. While there are some people who should not receive certain vaccines, based on their medical history, science-based studies have repeatedly shown that vaccines over all are very safe, and effectively slow down or completely stop the spread of infectious disease.
Another unfortunate misconception is that vaccinations are not necessary. Certainly, individuals can implement many healthy lifestyle choices to keep their immune system strong. Other public health advances, such as the environmental health improvements in sanitation and living conditions, have greatly reduced many disease outbreaks and health disparities. However, these improvements will not affect many of the vaccine-preventable infectious diseases we see today, such as meningitis, pertussis, measles, mumps and the flu.
One of the many functions of public health is having nurses, doctors and other who are educated and trained in epidemiology. These professionals specifically study how disease is transmitted from person to person and how to stop the spread of disease. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention guides our medical community to educate and administer vaccinations by what we call "evidence-based practices." Evidence-based practices are determined through scientific research. We continue to learn more every day and make advances in stopping the spread of disease.
Health care providers in our community have a responsibility to promote health and prevention through factual information about immunizations. No provider should offer anything less than evidence-based information from a credible source such as the CDC. Our community deserves this.