The Importance of Child Immunizations
Are you a mother, father, or grandparent? If so, do you know if your little one has received child immunizations?
You might have seen information circulating on social media, claiming that vaccines are dangerous. No evidence backs up this claim.
From estimates reported by the World Health Organization, smallpox killed 10-15 million people in 1967. A decade later, the WHO certified that smallpox had been globally eradicated! This was due to successful vaccination campaigns.
Do you want to help rid future generations of deadly diseases and keep your family members alive and well? If you do, you'll want to learn more about vaccines and why they're so important. Read on!
A pediatrician administers child immunizations to prevent common diseases. These include polio, measles, and diphtheria.
Since 1995, the US has created harmonized immunization schedules nationwide. After all doses, these vaccines offer protection against 14 'potentially serious diseases' before age 2.
Vaccines protect against common and deadly diseases by immunity. Your immune system is your body's way of fighting off any organisms that invade and cause problems. While battling these organisms, your body generates antibodies - proteins to fight off the potential disease organism.
When a child experiences their first infection with a unique antigen, their immune system will respond. Their body will start producing antibodies, though this process takes time. With a serious illness, it's common for the body to not be able to produce the antibodies fast enough to stay on top of the antigens that cause the disease.
If your immune system is strong enough to survive a serious illness, then it will remember the antigen. If an infection reoccurs years down the line, then your immune system is now able to keep up. It can now produce antibodies fast enough to prevent the antigens from causing the disease.
How Do Vaccines Work?
Vaccines are produced using the same antigens that cause the disease that is to be targeted. Sometimes, only parts of the antigen are used, but in either case, it will be weakened or killed so that it cannot cause disease. The antigen is designed to only be strong enough to trigger an immune response - so that the body will start to produce antibodies, eventually leading to immunity.
In this way, a vaccine becomes a safe primary exposure to a disease. A baby receives antibodies from its mother through the placenta and breastfeeding, but by a year after birth, this immunity is gone.
The timing of the dosing intervals is set so that a child's immune system is not overloaded. A child's exposure to antigens in a vaccine is only a small fraction of those they encounter daily.
Why Are Vaccines Important?
Unvaccinated children who encounter antigens, may not have a strong enough immune system to prevent it from developing into a disease. Before child immunizations, illnesses like polio and measles devastated younger populations.
There is an added benefit to the community at large, often referred to as 'herd immunity'. Some children are either too young for vaccination or are exempt for medical reasons. They are still at risk of serious illnesses with known vaccinations.
In a small number of cases, the immune system may not develop a good response to the vaccine. By reducing the number of potential disease spreaders, we can save more lives.
Your family doctor will agree that it is far better to prevent a disease than to treat it. There is a significant cost associated with rejecting vaccines and encouraging childhood diseases to thrive. Many diseases can be eliminated, protecting the present generation as well as future ones.
There has been an increasing frequency of worldwide travel in the past decades, which ups the risk of disease exposure, especially those that prevail outside the US.
Are Vaccines Safe?
There have been some groups expressing concerns about safety over the years. Despite this, there is no serious evidence to disagree that vaccines are safe.
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) reviews current research three times annually and discuss possible changes to the vaccine schedule.
These changes are approved by many government health agencies and top infectious disease experts. There are also national government databases that are monitored to identify any negative patterns immediately, should they start to emerge.
There is a long and careful review process in place for new vaccines, involving many expert scientists and doctors. Immunizations are not only safe and effective - they save lives. Doctors consider vaccines to be among the safest medicines we have available.
It should be pointed out that the momentary pain of an injection pales in comparison to the prolonged suffering of a serious illness. Side effects are very rare, so weighed up against the benefits in preventing serious disease, child immunizations are very effective.
How Do I Keep Track?
Keeping up with every booster shot can be a challenge for your primary care physician, especially if you move or records get lost for some reason. While your doctor's office will try to keep track, you should remember that it is your responsibility to keep records too.
Your doctor should be able to provide you with an immunization record form, so be vigilant. Most schools/preschools need these records to be complete before enrollment.
If your child has missed one, your doctor can usually pick up the schedule again. The World Health Organization estimates that immunization "prevents 2-3 million deaths every year."
19.7 million children under one are still unvaccinated.
Vaccinate Your Child Today
Child immunizations prevent disease and death, both for your children and the community around them. Don't roll the dice with your child's future health by skipping a dose without a good medical reason.
Unfortunately there isn't a vaccine for every infection. So when your child does get sick contact us because we provide pediatric house calls and offer patient-focused healthcare for all.