CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Dr. Ari Brown watched a child she cared for die from chickenpox. Four months later, the chickenpox vaccine was approved.
If it had been approved sooner, that child might still be alive, Brown said.
Brown received a vaccination while she was in medical school when a study of the chickenpox vaccine was under way.
That was before the vaccine went onto the market in 1995, but she was in pediatrics and needed protection from exposure.
The child who died during Brown's residency did not have such protection. That planted the seed for her growing passion about childhood vaccination.
"I think it's really important to educate people and share my experiences. I promise these are not diseases you want your child to have. Going without vaccinations -- the natural way -- sometimes means death," she said.
Brown is the spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatrics. She regularly appears on CNN, NBC's Today, Dr. Oz, Dr. Phil and Rachel Ray. She is a best-selling author and the medical advisor for Parents Magazine.
On Wednesday, she was the keynote speaker for the West Virginia Immunization Network as it observed National Infant Immunization Week.
The statewide coalition focuses on improving immunization rates and protecting West Virginians from diseases that can be prevented by vaccines.
"Weeks like this -- it is an opportunity to remind us of the importance of these topics," Brown said. "The reason why infants get their own immunization week is because these guys are the most vulnerable population.
"With a 2-month-old, a 2-year-old and a 20-year-old, the 2-month-old is the most vulnerable. Parents talk about wanting to wait or stagger the shots, but it's important to get them early in life. By waiting, you're leaving the most vulnerable the most unprotected."
Infant vaccines protect against 14 diseases: chickenpox, ciphtheria, Hib (haemophilus influenzae type B), hepatitis A, hepatitis B, flu, measles, mumps, pertussis, polio, pneumococcal infection, rotavirus, rubella and tetanus.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that the vaccinations be completed by age 2. Most shots require more than one dose to build an infant's immunity. The CDC recommends:
* four doses of diphtheria, tetanus & pertussis vaccine (DTaP).
* three to four doses of Hib vaccine (depending on the brand used).
* four doses of pneumococcal vaccine.
* three doses of polio vaccine.
* two doses of hepatitis A vaccine.
* three doses of hepatitis B vaccine.
* one dose of measles, mumps & rubella vaccine (MMR).
* two to three doses of rotavirus vaccine (depending on the brand used).
* one dose of varicella vaccine.