Childhood Immunizations provide safe, effective protection

By Tricia Borchers, PAC

It’s that time…You are at the doctor’s office for your child’s annual exam and know the vaccines are coming.

It can be a stressful event for us parents to see our babies or young children receiving several vaccines at their visits.

However, these vaccines are necessary for protection from many dangerous and sometimes deadly diseases.

Vaccines are one of the most effective ways to prevent disease in children and adults. Despite common side effects that might include swelling at the site of injection, soreness or a low-grade fever, a vaccine ultimately helps the body’s immune system recognize and fight pathogens like viruses or bacteria so the disease(s) they might cause are not contracted.

Among the many debilitating or life threating diseases vaccines help protect us against are measles, polio, tetanus, whooping cough, meningitis, diphtheria, hepatitis and cervical cancer.

Over the years there has been controversy concerning the safety of some vaccines. However, there is no concrete evidence that they are not safe.

Years of laboratory research has been done to evaluate vaccines for safety prior to their approval to be administered to the general public. The most recent, painful reminder of a vaccine controversy is the resurgence of measles in 2008-09, which was declared to be eradicated in the U.S. in 2000.

This resurgence was the direct result of people not immunizing their children against the disease by way of the MMR vaccine, which was rumored to cause unacceptable side effects in the late 1990’s.

Though children could have an adverse reaction to any given vaccine, the benefits far outweigh the potential side effects. Think of it this way, we seat-belt our children in car seats, though we do not expect to be in an accident. Likewise, we give vaccines to strengthen our children’s immune system and prevent disease.

When your child is vaccinated for a particular disease, their immune system makes infection fighting antibodies that protect them from getting the disease should they be exposed to it at some point later in life.

It is important to make regular visits to your child’s doctor for general health assessments, timely vaccinations and assurance that the full-course vaccines are received. It is very important to get the full-recommended course of a given vaccine, so as to have the best possible immunity to a particular disease.

One person having immunity also contributes to herd immunity, which occurs when most of the population is immune to an infectious disease. This provides indirect protection to those who cannot be immunized against a particular disease.

Your child’s doctor will keep a record on file of vaccines administered. To assist them in keeping accurate records, it’s highly recommended to bring your child’s vaccination card to every appointment. Make sure every immunization received is recorded on the card with a stamp or signature and a date.

Keeping a record of vaccines received by your child archived with other essential documents is also very important, as people change doctors, records get lost or years pass and the records are no longer accessible.

As children grow up their vaccine history will be required for college, trade schools and even jobs.

Vaccines are some of the safest and most effective medicines we have. Their use has made many otherwise dangerous diseases increasingly rare in today’s world. Protect your children, family, friends and your community.

Start early, keep regular appointments and get those vaccines at the right times to get off to a good, safe start.