Immunizations save lives, keep kids healthy

Global health activists continue to make strides against diseases that kill in the developing world. Few tools are more essential than vaccination drives, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates are saving the lives of 2 million to 3 million people a year around the globe.
Yet, in the United States, more educated parents sometimes put their children and the community around them at risk by refusing to vaccinate against preventable diseases. Other families lack access to health care and their children miss essential vaccinations. The result is increases in deaths from such preventable diseases as measles and whooping cough, tragedies that do not have to occur.

With the school year just around the corner, now is the perfect time to remind people that vaccinations work to save lives. Through Aug. 16, it’s possible to participate in the “Got Shots? Protect Tots!” program all across New Mexico, a project of the New Mexico Immunization Coalition Program.
Participating providers open their doors to all children so they can be immunized before school starts.

Local participants include:
• La Casa Family Health Center 1521 W. 13th, Clovis, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday;
• La Casa de Buena Salud, 1515 W. Fir, Portales, 8 a.m. to noon Saturday;
• Portales Public Health Office, 1513 W. Fir, Portales, 8 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. through Friday this week; 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday; 8 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Aug. 11-14; and 9 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Aug. 15.
• PMS Quay County Family Health Center, 1302 E. Main, Tucumcari, 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 11-15.
You can find out more at the New Mexico Department of Health website.

New Mexico’s rates of immunization have varied widely over the years. Immunization rates dropped from 1996 to 2001, sending the state plummeting from 30th among states in 1996 to last in 2001.
But after 2001, New Mexico changed those numbers, increasing rates of immunization from 63 percent to 83.5 percent in 2004. That move from bottom to 15th in the nation brought the state national recognition. New Mexico even won the National Immunization Program award from the CDC for showing the greatest improvement.
Continuing that progress is no easy task. As families prepare to return to school, it’s a good time to check immunizations off so that children have their best chance at a healthy year ahead.

— The Santa Fe New Mexican