New Vaccine Book Co-Author Explains How Childhood Vaccinations Protect the Wider Community

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Many parents don't know that the vaccination decisions that they make can affect many people outside their family, says medical writer Laurie Bouck, co-author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Vaccinations. Unvaccinated children can pass on vaccine-preventable diseases to a wide range of vulnerable children and adults within their communities.

Many parents don’t know that their vaccination decisions can have widespread consequences within their communities, says a medical writer and co-author of the recently-released Complete Idiot’s Guide to Vaccinations.

“Parent who skip or delay recommended vaccinations can endanger not only their child but also the other children and adults who have contact with that child,” says Laurie Bouck, co-author (with Michael J. Smith, MD) of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Vaccinations. “Parents’ vaccination decisions, sometimes based on anecdotes and rumors rather than science, affect many people both within and beyond their family.”

Bouck explains that there are three reasons why parents should follow the CDC-recommended schedule when vaccinating their children:

1. Children often infect adults with diseases. Children with influenza, for example, can infect senior relatives such as their grandparents. Because their immune systems are weaker, seniors are at special risk for flu complications. Most of the approximately 36,000 people who die from seasonal influenza complications in the United States each year are seniors.

2. Vaccinating a child protects ill children from disease. Children whose immune systems are weakened by illness (such as HIV infection) or medical treatments (such as chemotherapy) often cannot safely receive some vaccinations. To avoid exposure to vaccine-preventable diseases that could devastate their immune systems, these ill children need the children and adults around them to receive their vaccinations. This “herd immunity” will protect them from catching vaccine-preventable diseases.

3. Vaccinating a child also protects vaccinated children from disease. Childhood vaccines are about 70% to 99% effective at creating immunity to a disease, according to the CDC. For example, about 8 out of 10 children vaccinated against pertussis (whooping cough) develop immunity; about 99 out of 100 children vaccinated against measles develop immunity. The children who do not develop immunity after vaccination remain vulnerable to the disease. They too depend on the herd immunity of those around them to stay healthy.

Vaccination education for parents of children ages 2 and under will be the focus of the CDC's upcoming National Infant Immunization Week (April 24 to May 1, 2010). The CDC has found that more than 1 million U.S. children are not adequately vaccinated against childhood diseases.

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Vaccinations, by Michael J. Smith, MD and Laurie Bouck, takes the mystery out of this often-confusing topic. Designed to help the reader understand and appreciate this unique public health tool, the book explains how vaccines work, how they are tested and monitored, and what vaccinations are recommended for children, adolescents, adults, seniors, and special groups such as travelers. The book also explores several related issues, such as the use of mercury in vaccines, the cycle of influenza epidemics, why there are vaccine shortages, and what new vaccines might be developed next. For more information, go to or visit


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