Veronica Hernandez is convinced that immunizations are important for infants. When this Gresham mom became pregnant in 2009, a misinformed friend told her the H1N1influenza vaccine could be dangerous for her baby. But the H1N1 vaccine was manufactured the same way as the seasonal flu vaccine, and proven to be safe and effective. Pregnant women were over four times more likely to be hospitalized for the flu in Oregon than non-pregnant women in the same age group. “My doctor convinced me it was much safer to get the H1N1 flu vaccine than not get one,” says Veronica. The Hernandezes welcomed Gabriel, their healthy baby boy, on February 23. 2010. And because Veronica was protected against the flu, her baby was too.
Each year in Oregon, about 49,000 babies are born who need to be immunized against 14 diseases before age 2. Immunization is the safest, most effective way to control and eradicate diseases such as polio, measles, rubella, diphtheria and tetanus. Yet in Oregon, 5 percent of kindergartners have an exemption for one or more vaccines, a rate that has steadily increased over the last decade. Most Oregon parents do take their children in for vaccinations, yet more than a quarter of Oregon’s 2 year olds are missing one or more recommended immunizations.
Since Gabriel was born, Veronica has made sure he keeps on schedule to get the shots he needs to stay healthy. “I think it’s really important for me to do everything I can for my baby, including protecting him from terrible diseases,” Veronica says. She is also keeping her community healthy by ensuring her baby doesn’t pass diseases on to other children.