PELHAM, N.Y. Dr. Susan Kahn, of Pelham Pediatrics, administers vaccines to children year-round. The impending arrival of the school year brings an increased awareness about vaccines to parents.
Kahn said that she gives vaccines as needed during yearly physicals, but requirements from schools make parents realize that their children need certain shots.
"There's no one time you get your shots," Kahn said. "But there's more awareness because of school."
Kahn said that if someone has been putting off getting his or her vaccines, then that person will receive them before school begins.
The doctor also said that she uses cold spray to provide relief for the children and sometimes uses a numbing cream before the child's visit. She also uses behavioral techniques, including talking and hand holding.
Kahn said that parents often want to know what will happen to their child during the process.
"Parents have questions," Kahn said. "No one wants their kids to feel pain."
Vaccines contain the same antigens (or parts of antigens) that cause diseases, but antigens in vaccines are either killed or greatly weakened so that when they are injected into the human body they are not strong enough to produce symptoms of the disease. They are, however, strong enough for the immune system to produce antibodies against them.
In fact, a study published late last year by the Centers for Disease Control showed that death rates for 13 diseases preventable by childhood vaccinations are at an all-time low in the United States.
Vaccines are safe and effective in preventing debilitating diseases but there have been recent stirrings of some diseases making comebacks with deadly outcomes. Earlier this year, California endured the largest whooping cough outbreak in 65 years, sickening almost 9,500 people and killing 10 infants. So far this year, there have been more cases of measles in the United States than any year since 1996. Of those who contract the disease, 40 percent of people need to be hospitalized.
Kahn said the public needs better education about the scientific process of vaccination, and that people should not focus one study. The doctor said she appreciates the value of getting the shots.
"I have a lot more respect for the diseases than I do fear of the vaccine," Kahn said.
Contact Pelham reporter Andrew Meola at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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