Childhood immunizations are one of the best ways parents can protect infants, children and teens from potentially harmful diseases. Vaccine-preventable diseases can be very serious and can require hospitalization, or even be deadly, especially in infants and young children.
What is Immunity?
When germs from a disease enter the body, they begin to reproduce. These foreign invaders cause your immune system to start making proteins called antibodies. These antibodies’ first job is to help destroy the germs that are making you sick. They can’t act fast enough to prevent you from becoming sick, but by eliminating the attacking germs, antibodies help you to get well.
Most antibodies are very specific. They are created in response to a specific virus or bacteria. An antibody created to respond to chickenpox, won't provide protection from the measles. Some antibodies that are not so specific and provide protect from types of bacteria that are similar.
This is how children's vaccines work...they use the antibodies to fight off infections. After a vaccination, antibodies go to work before a first infection develops in the body.
The second job of a vaccine is to provide immunity from infections in the future. They remain in the bloodstream for years and if the same germs ever try to infect your child again, they will provide protection. The antibodies can destroy the germs before they have a chance to cause an illness.
What Are Vaccines?
Children in the U.S. still get vaccine-preventable diseases. In fact, we have seen resurgences of measles and whooping cough (pertussis) over the past few years. Since 2010, there have been between 10,000 and 50,000 cases of whooping cough each year in the United States and about 10 to 20 babies, many of which were too young to be fully vaccinated, died each year.
Vaccines offer a solution to this problem. Your child develops immunity without getting sick first. Live vaccines are made up of a weakened version of the bacteria or virus responsible for the disease. In some, vaccines are made from dead forms of the organism. These dead organisms were killed in a way to preserve their ability to provide immunity or protection. The germs in vaccines are either killed or weakened so they won’t cause an illness.
Vaccines containing these weakened or killed germs are introduced into the body, usually by injection. The immune system starts producing antibodies as if it were invaded by the disease. The antibodies destroy the vaccine germs just as they would the disease germs. Then they stay in the body providing immunity from the disease.
Raising a healthy child means you’d do anything to protect them. There are hazards you can’t see that can cause serious illness, disability, or even death in young children. Immunization gives you the power to protect your children from 14 serious childhood diseases. There are many reasons to vaccinate.
An unvaccinated child faces lifelong differences that could potentially put him or her at risk. Every time you call 911, ride in an ambulance, go to the doctor or visit the hospital emergency room, you must alert medical personnel of your child's vaccination status so he or she receives distinctive treatment. Because unvaccinated children can require treatment that is out of the ordinary, medical staff may be less familiar, and less experienced, with the procedures required to appropriately treat your child.
Rainbow Pediatrics follows the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics), the CDC (Center of Disease Control) and Bright Futures schedule for vaccine administration. Vaccinations are a vital part of preventative care. To learn more about children's vaccines and the diseases they protect against, please go to our Immunizations Guide.
Rainbow Pediatrics are board certified pediatricians with offices in Dublin and New Albany OH.