Why Should You Be Vaccinated?
Childhood immunizations are incredibly important, and there are so many reasons to get vaccinated. The most obvious reason is to prevent the spread of harmful diseases. These diseases can cause severe illness, hospitalization, and death. If you or your child contract one of these diseases, it’s also very likely that you will transmit it to others around you.
The best way to fight disease is through vaccination and immunization, so let’s start at the beginning.
What Does “Immunized” Mean, and Is It Different From Being Vaccinated?
In the medical sense, being immunized means that you are immune to certain diseases. In comparison, vaccinated means that you have received a vaccine, usually by getting a shot. These two terms are often used together and in place of each other. To be technical, you are immunized by being vaccinated. Ultimately, adult and childhood immunizations are important because they keep everyone healthy.
What Is a Vaccine?
A vaccine is a preparation that triggers an immune response. A vaccine is usually created using a modified version of the disease-causing microorganism. The prepared serum stimulates an individual’s immune system to recognize this foreign entity and prompts the body to produce antibodies that can protect against and combat the disease. This way, when the fully-fledged virus comes along, the immune system can recognize it for the invader that it is and has the antibodies ready to fight and defend the body.
Types of Vaccines
There are a number of ways to create a vaccine, but here are four that come up frequently in childhood vaccines. Each type is intended to teach the body to respond most efficiently to the different kinds of disease.
Live-attenuated vaccines are prepared using a weakened version of the live microorganism. These live viruses are usually cultivated in such a way that they are non-virulent but still trigger an immune response. This method is able to promote a long-lasting immunity and generally only requires one or two doses to be effective.
Examples of live-attenuated vaccines are the chickenpox vaccine and the MMR vaccine (which covers measles, mumps, and rubella), both of which your child should receive at 12 months.
Inactive vaccines are created using a dead version of the germ that still contains all of the relevant signatures to trigger an immune response. While a single dose of an inactive vaccine is not as potent as a vaccine using the live microorganism, these are delivered in multiple doses or boosters to promote ongoing immunity.
Examples of inactive vaccines are the flu shot, which children can receive after six months, and the polio vaccine, which children receive at two months.
mRNA vaccines promote the body to create proteins that trigger an immune response. The immune response is to generate antibodies against these proteins that stand in as a reference to a particular virus without actually including a live virus.
This method is used for the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. It is also used for other infections and cancer treatments.
Conjugate vaccines are created by using a strong antigen as a carrier for a weak antigen. This helps the immune system generate a more robust response to the weak antigen. This method triggers long-term immunity.
Examples of conjugate vaccines are the Hib and Prevnar vaccines. Your child should receive their first dose at their two-month checkup.
Reasons to Be Vaccinated
Vaccination is very effective in preventing diseases and can be attributed to the eradication of smallpox and the decline in polio and other such diseases.
Polio was a severe concern for children up until the 1950s. Prior to the vaccination, children under nine were at serious risk of paralysis because of the disease. But with the vaccine, this is nowhere near the concern it was in the past.
Why Should Your Child Be Vaccinated?
Each year the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—the CDC—publishes the recommended list of childhood vaccines. This list is additionally reviewed by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians. You can view the recommended list of shots on our website, but here are the current recommendations listed as they are on the CDC website:
- Hepatitis B
- Diphtheria, tetanus, and acellular pertussis
- Haemophilus influenzae type b
- Pnuemococcal conjugate
- Inactivated poliovirus
- Measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR)
- Hepatitis A
- Human papillomavirus
- Meningococcal B
- Pneumoccocal polysaccharide
Most of these vaccines should be given before the age of six, and they are often given in multiple doses to ensure long-lasting resistance to the microorganism. In addition, many vaccines can be combined into a single shot to avoid having to give children several shots at a time.
While children receive initial antibodies from their mothers before they are born and through breastmilk while nursing, these immunities are temporary. Childhood immunizations are important because a child’s immune system is less developed than that of an adult. By receiving their immunizations in accordance with the published immunization schedule, your child will be far better protected from diseases that may cause hospitalization or death. It’s also important to remember that some children cannot receive vaccines due to medical reasons, and their only protection from these diseases is the immunity of those around them.
In addition, it is important to realize that some of these vaccines require boosters in adulthood because their efficacy wears off. It is entirely possible for an unvaccinated child to infect a previously vaccinated adult whose immunity has diminished.
There has been some argument for natural infection rather than immunization, but it is important to remember that being infected with naturally occurring germs can lead to other severe conditions. One such example is polio causing paralysis. In addition, the symptoms of these diseases in children can be far more severe than they are in adults.
In addition, most states require children to be vaccinated before they can start school. This, again, is with the intention of preventing the spread of these childhood diseases in spaces where they are easily transmitted.
The list of recommended childhood vaccines might seem overwhelming, so please talk to your doctor for more information.
Helping Protect Everyone
Being immunized against disease is essential for keeping your child and everyone around them healthy. It’s important for everyone to do their part. Please schedule a checkup with your doctor to make sure that your child is up to date on their recommended immunizations.