Expert Health Articles

Importance of Immunization

Dr. Andrew ReidDr. Andrew Reid

Findlay Ear, Nose & Throat

After clean drinking water, Immunization shots are likely the most beneficial public health measures we enjoy. However, like clean water, they are often taken for granted.

Over my years of medical practice, I have seen many people badly affected by diseases they contracted, either before immunizations became available or after availability of an immunization the patient had decided not to receive.

Tetanus:  John Roebling, the designer of the Brooklyn Bridge and the Ohio River Bridge in Cincinnati, died from tetanus acquired from a cut in his foot. While overseeing the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge, he had stepped on a spike on a dock.

Polio:  Two of my classmates in school caught polio as toddlers and had one leg shorter than the other.

Diphtheria:  A patient who presented to an emergency department, where I was working as a medical student, infected the intern and the specialist involved with his care, as well as several other patients, until the disease was accurately diagnosed and he could be isolated and treated appropriately.

H. Influenza Bacteria:  A three year-old boy presented to the emergency department with acute upper-airway obstruction. It was a close call but we saved his life by inserting an airway to treat his epiglottitis. It was especially memorable as he looked a lot like my son of the same age. Also, the son of a family doctor I knew developed meningitis from the same H. Influenza bacteria and required a cochlear implant to treat the resulting hearing loss.                                              

Measles: The young son of a Pediatrics professor in my medical school developed encephalitis and, subsequently, severe brain damage. He spent the rest of his life in a chronic care hospital for children.

Rubella (German Measles):  An aunt of one of my Bluffton patients caught rubella when she was pregnant, so that the baby required hearing aids from birth.

Shingles:  One of my patients became permanently paralyzed on one side of his face with a hearing loss from the Shingles infection.

Human papilloma virus:  I have seen many patients who have developed oropharyngeal cancer caused by this virus.        

Pneumococcus bacteria:  Since this immunization was developed, the incidence of ear infections is down significantly and the number of children needing ventilation tube insertions has decreased 25% from a decade ago.

We all receive priceless benefits from these immunizations. Any fears about them need to be compared with the many serious illnesses that can be prevented.