Immunization Plain Talk : Page 2

A MESSAGE TO PARENTS Dear Parents: Thank you for your interest in learning more about immunizations. As parents, we make important deci-sions that aff ect our children. Immunizing your child is one of these decisions. We all want to make good choices and do what’s best for our children. As a community, we must protect our own health and work together to protect each other’s health. Choosing to immunize is one of the most important decisions you can make to protect yourself, your children, your family, and the com-munity from diseases that vaccines prevent. These diseases still occur in our communities. Nationwide, we have seen a steady increase in whooping cough cases since 2009. Our state was no exception. Between 2010 and 2011, four babies died in Washington from whooping cough and dozens more were hospitalized. In 2012, Washington State had an epidemic of whooping cough, with more cases than we’ve had since the 1940s. We want parents to make informed health decisions based on accurate information. There is an over-whelming amount of vaccine-related material out there and we know that parents, healthcare profession-als, school nurses, child care providers, and others want more detailed information. This booklet provides accurate information about how vaccines work, gives balanced information on the benefi ts and risks of immunization to help you make informed decisions, and discusses the safety and eff ectiveness of vac-cines. It also gives you reliable facts about immunizations and the diseases they prevent and sets the record straight about topics that are often misunderstood or reported inaccurately. We designed this booklet as an easy-to-use reference for busy parents. Each section can be read inde-pendently, so it’s easy to review an individual topic as you have time. We present much of the informa-tion in a “question and answer” format, although you may have questions that are not addressed in the booklet. We encourage you to share your concerns with your doctor, nurse, clinic, or your local health department. The Washington State Department of Health website ( www.doh.wa.gov/immunization ) also has many resources about immunizations. I hope this booklet will help as you make informed health decisions for your family. Your child’s health, and the health of our community, depends on it. Sincerely, Maxine Hayes, MD, MPH State Health Offi cer 3

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