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    (San Bernardino, Calf.) Across the globe, regular immunizations against otherwise ravishing diseases are helping the world’s population live longer, healthier lives, says Dr. Albert Arteaga, founder of the Inland Empire’s LaSalle Medical Associates.

    Back-to-school time is rapidly approaching, and just as school attendance is mandatory, Arteaga wishes immunizations were just as mandatory. But, as yet they aren’t. “Parents do realize how important the shots are to the welfare of their children, but still we will see 80% of our patients in the last two weeks before school starts,” he notes.

    Immunizations, often combined in a single injection, help prevent such diseases as pneumonia, polio, diphtheria, hepatitis and meningitis.

    “Children are usually afraid of their perceived pain of the immunizations,” Arteaga says, “but that brief, tiny pain is nothing compared to the alarming, often lifelong, impact of the diseases they prevent.”

    Parents should plan ahead for their children’s immunizations, he adds. “They need to break the barrier of ‘no time’,” he says. “They simply need to think ahead, and say, ‘Today is a good one for the shots’.”

    There’s an important phrase in the medical profession when it comes to immunizations: “herd immunity.” “That’s where we can all be human barriers to these common but serious diseases,” he explains. “When we’re around people who are immunized, they protect the rest of us. And we can all help each other by being protected ourselves.”

    While immunizations are routinely up to date only 30% of the time, LaSalle patients, at Arteaga’s urging, are 70% up to date. “Our patients are really good about that,” he says, “but so much more can be done. The problem is that with immunizations nothing seems wrong with kids, and so the parents too often simply put them off until the time is more convenient. You ought to hear the creative excuses we get.”
    Under nearly all circumstances, immunizations are free to families, being subsidized by the Federal government for children.

    LaSalle welcomes childhood immunizations at all five of their Inland Empire clinics: 17577 Arrow Blvd. in Fontana; 1505 Seventh Street and 565 North Mt. Vernon Ave. in San Bernardino; 16455 Main St. in Hesperia; and 31762 Mission Trail in Lake Elsinore.

    Appointments aren’t required, but are recommended by calling 909/890-0407. Usually the immunizations last only 30 minutes.

    “A half hour,” Dr. Arteaga says, “can save potentially years of devastating illness.”

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