With the kids heading back to school, it’s likely that immunizations have been on your mind lately. August is Immunization Awareness month and it’s the perfect time to remind yourself what vaccinations are, why they are important, and which vaccines your child may need this year.
What are Immunizations?
Also referred to as vaccinations, immunizations are usually administered by a shot and can prevent serious and even life-threatening diseases.
Your immune system works by producing antibodies to help fight the germs it encounters. Once it has fought a certain type of germ, it then remembers and can fight it more effectively if it encounters it again. Vaccines contain germs that have been killed or weakened and when they are introduced into your immune system, your body is able to build up immunity to that disease without ever actually getting sick.
Immunizations exist to prevent the following diseases:
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Whooping Cough
Like with any medication, there are possible mild side effects that can occur with vaccines such as mild fever or pain/redness at the injection site. These reactions are normal and will go away within a few days on their own. These side effects are far less serious than the diseases the vaccines are helping your body build immunity against.
The Importance of Vaccines
When babies are born, their immune systems are not fully developed and they are more vulnerable to contracting diseases and are at a greater risk of those diseases being serious. Vaccinations beginning at a young age help reduce their risk of infection by working with their immune system to develop immunity without getting sick.
By following the CDC’s vaccination schedule, you are making sure that your child has built up immunity before they are exposed to potentially life-threatening diseases. It can take weeks for a vaccine build immunity and some take multiple doses. If you wait until they could be exposed at daycare, during travel, or during an outbreak, there may not be enough time for the vaccine to work.
Vaccines not only help protect your own child but other children as well. Diseases can travel quickly through a community of people such as a school. However, if enough people are vaccinated, the disease cannot travel as quickly and the entire community is less likely to get sick. This means that even those who are not able to get vaccinated such as young children, those with certain diseases or failing immune systems, or individuals with allergies, are protected. This method of protecting a community from the spread of disease through vaccinations is referred to as “community immunity” or “herd immunity.”
You should always talk to your child’s doctor about vaccines, but the CDC has a recommended schedule at www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules.
Dr. Glenn J. Trippe is Board Certified by the American Board of Pediatrics and has been a practicing pediatrician since 1979. Dr. Trippe established New Beginnings Pediatrics in 1992. He is a Fellow of American Academy of Pediatrics. New Beginnings Pediatrics has offices in Norwalk (419-668-9409) on the Fisher-Titus Campus and in Bellevue at 1400 W. Main St. (419-483-4122).