by Charlotte A. Moser, Assistant Director, Vaccine Education Center at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

An original version of this piece was published in the September 2011 Parents PACK newsletter.

Our family’s summer of 2011 was great! We were crazy busy traveling with my teenage son and his baseball team while trying to put in the time at work.

We were so excited in the spring when he was invited to participate on this team of mostly older boys, and he was over the moon as he heard about trips planned for up and down the east coast. As a family, we decided that at least one parent would accompany him on every trip, but that whenever we could, the whole family would go. My husband and I worked out the schedule in a way that we were both in and out of the office throughout this intense period of travel.

For me, being in the office meant monitoring information about disease reports. It meant learning about the measles outbreaks that were occurring in multiple states, hearing about cases of whooping cough that were continuing to be diagnosed, and receiving maps detailing weekly cases of influenza.

I saw reports of Haemophilus influenzae type b, meningococcal disease, hepatitis B, pneumococcus, chickenpox, hepatitis A and mumps. The reports were from states we were visiting or from states that other teams called home.

There was a lot of disease out there, and we were headed right toward it.

IT'S-PERSONAL-AS-WE-SEE-IT-CHARLOTTE-MOSER-andy_catchingWhen I wasn’t at work, I was driving from state to state, sometimes with multiple teenagers in the car, seeing opposing teams and their families from many other places, and watching typical team socialization, like sleeping in cabins, eating together and — cringe! — occasionally sharing water bottles.

What about those “good game” lines after every match-up? How about all the restaurants we found ourselves eating in? Of course, we had our daughter with us, so what about all those tourist attractions, movies, and malls along the way?

As a mom, I wanted my son to have a great time, but I also wanted everyone to be healthy. I knew these diseases were occurring in states we were visiting, in states other teams had come from, and even in our own county.

IT'S-PERSONAL-AS-WE-SEE-IT-CHARLOTTE-MOSER-on-the-fieldWere boys from other teams well enough to play, but sick a few days later? What about the player who was too sick to come to the start of one tournament, only to show up and stay in the cabin two days later? Were parents or younger siblings who “just didn’t feel quite right” sharing the bleachers? What about that cashier coughing while she rang up our snacks for the team?

My family was up-to-date on our immunizations, and never have I understood the value of vaccination like I did that summer.
Sure, not every vaccine works 100 percent of the time for 100 percent of the people, but when most of us are vaccinated, we have healthy communities and healthy families.

We finished out the summer exhausted, but happy — and healthy, thanks to vaccination.