BIRMINGHAM, Ala., Aug. 16 (UPI) -- Failing to have your child vaccinated could mean the difference between life and death, a U.S. pediatric infectious disease specialist warned.
Dr. David Kimberlin, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and president-elect of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society, said 16 diseases can be prevented by childhood vaccines: Chickenpox, diphtheria, influenza, Hib, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, human papillomavirus, measles, meningococcal, mumps, pneumococcal, polio, rotavirus, rubella, tetanus and whooping cough or pertussis.
"These vaccines save children's lives; parents interested in keeping their child alive should have them vaccinated," Kimberlin said in a statement. "At any given time, all of these vaccine-preventable diseases are at most 18 hours away. For example, one of the few remaining places where polio circulates is Afghanistan, and U.S. troops return home from there daily; anyone exposed could inadvertently pass polio to a child."
Kimberlin said as during his residency in Dallas he saw firsthand what a disease like polio can do. A 10-year-old girl came into the hospital after developing paralysis and the girl's father wanted to know why it occurred. It turned out the girl was never vaccinated against polio, Kimberlin said.
Clinical psychologist Vivian Friedman, also at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said some parents do not have their children vaccinated.
"People do have all sorts of fears of things they don't understand, but there is no rational reason for not vaccinating a child," Friedman said.