Vaccinating a Village

Vaccinations compliance with parents helps their children and community

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Most schools have vaccine requirements for all students enrolled in their schools. On the other hand, workplaces and other parent "haunts" have no vaccine requirements.

A recent survey by a non-profit Washington D.C. firm reports that most adult Americans are not getting recommended vaccinations.

"Ask your doctor which vaccines you need to stay current with recommendations."

William Schaffner, M.D., Chairman of the Department of Preventive Medicine at Vanderbilt Medical School in Nashville, TN reports that community health depends on herd immunity, meaning as many people who are able to be vaccinated doing so.

Elderly people who are unable to receive vaccines rely on a more infectious disease-free environment to protect them. Children also benefit from eligible parents to be vaccinated as well. In essence, the stronger adults getting vaccinated protects the more vulnerable members of society as well as themselves.

In Parenting Magazine, Lance Rodewald, M.D., Director of the Immunization Services Division in the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention acknowledges that most doctors encourage parents to receive all their vaccinations because it also benefits their children, but parents don't always follow-up on this recommendation.

According to a recent report conducted by the Trust for America’s Health, only 33 percent of American adults receive the recommended yearly flu vaccination. Only a dismal 2 percent get vaccinations against diptheria, whooping cough and tetanus.

Federal and private insurance companies rarely reimburse adults for out-of pocket expenses compared to a 98 percent reimbursement for children's vaccines from the National Immunization Program. Once a person is over the age of 18, these insurance benefits for vaccinations aren't available.

Dr. Schaffner explains three reasons for adults to get vaccinated:

  • Protect oneself
  • Protect your children
  • Protect your community

He also draws attention to the two most important vaccines for parents to receive: Influenza vaccine and whooping cough vaccine. The flu vaccine is a yearly shot and whooping cough requires a one-time booster accompanying a Td booster every 10 years.

The whooping cough booster is also very important for older children and emerging adults because the vaccine's effectiveness decreases during the adolescent years.

Finally, Dr. Schaeffer reports that when all members of a family are vaccinated, a "cocoon" of protection is encasing the family and the community benefits as well.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
August 15, 2011
Last Updated:
August 17, 2011