October marks Child Health Month, a month when pediatricians and public health experts and advocates beg parents around the nation to do the right thing and vaccinate their kids against preventable diseases like flu, measles, and whooping cough. It's also a time to remember about things like installing car seats for younger kids, proper nutrition for children, and brush up on child development.
Here in Arizona, the state Department of Health Services is sponsoring a half-day health fair next Monday, October 7, to mark Child Health Day. The event, which will be held at the Arizona State Lab Conference Room (known as the Igloo, enough of a reason to check it out if the high temperatures last into next week) at 250 N. 17th Ave in Phoenix. There are, of course, other reasons to attend the event, which lasts from 10:30 - 1:00, including
- Health screens that include hearing, vision, and development
- Dental screens
- Breastfeeding information
- Information on reducing infant illnesses, injury prevention, and proper sleep positioning
- Where to go for help with domestic violence, maltreatment, or neglect
So far this year, there were 159 cases of measles reported in 16 states as of August 24. Just one was in Arizona. The states with the most reported cases are New York (65), Texas (25), North Carolina (22), and California (15). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (DC), 77% of the cases were linked to eight local outbreaks.
Measles are easily spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes in the vicinity of unvaccinated and vulnerable people. Two years ago, a single Swiss tourist visiting Tucson who came down with measles managed to infect 14 people after she began experiencing breathing problems and developed rashes. Hospitals in the Old Pueblo spent almost $800,000 treating them.
I won't repeat my past reasons why parents should vaccinate their kids. Take your pick: believe researchers whose main goal in life is to end life-threatening and/or fatal diseases and who really don't get paid a lot to do this. Or you can believe an officially discredited article written in the 1970s in a British medical journal and an ex-Playboy model/Hollywood hanger-on who's made The View virtually unwatchable.
Child Health Day dates to 1928, back in the days when Congress not only went to work could agree on Joint Resolutions more meaningful than honoring motor homes or quitting the United Nations. That year, Congress proclaimed the first Monday in October should be dedicated to children's health. President Calvin Coolidge happily signed it.
The first Monday in October is also the day that the Supreme Court reports back to work, assuming they are considered essential Federal employees.