With the development of various vaccinations, many childhood illnesses have been markedly reduced around the world. Still, many underdeveloped nations are not able to provide mass vaccinations to their citizens. With the increased mobility of our society, and people traveling across the globe, it’s easier than ever to become exposed to various diseases and illnesses. Keep reading to learn about the importance of vaccinations.
When a disease particle enters the body, it is seen as a threat or foreign body, known as an antigen. The body’s normal response is to defend itself from antigens through the production of antibodies. A vaccine actually contains the antigens that cause disease; however, these antigens are either in weakened form or are killed. This means that there is not enough of the antigen to cause harm. They usually do not produce symptoms of the disease or cause a child to contract a full-blown disease. What they do is stimulate the production of antibodies that fight disease. This exposure to certain antigens, and the resulting production of antibodies, teaches the body to produce these needed antibodies if exposed to the same antigen in the future.
Some illnesses that may be preventable by vaccination include:
- Chicken Pox
- Hepatitis A and B
- Respiratory Syncytial Virus
These are all serious diseases that were once very common in the United States. They are now seen in much smaller numbers, and some have even been virtually eliminated.
Vaccines are thoroughly tested for years prior to being given to the public. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention monitor the safety of vaccinations in the United States. Children receive regular, scheduled vaccinations to prevent the spread of various diseases. Some immunizations are combined in order to make the process more efficient. For example, the MMR vaccine protects children against measles, mumps and rubella.
While there are some risks associated with certain individuals being vaccinated, the risks associated with vaccination are much smaller than the risk of contracting the disease the vaccine prevents. Some children experience minor side effects after receiving vaccinations, such as:
- Soreness at the injection site.
Talk to your doctor about related side effects and how to best treat them.
Immunization and Autism
There has been some concern in recent years about a possible relationship between autism and immunization. According to the CDC, research shows that there is no causal relationship between the thimerosal in some vaccines and the increase in cases of autism spectrum disorder.
You should be aware that there are some children who shouldn’t be vaccinated, such as:
- Children who may be taking drugs that lower their body’s ability to fight infection
- Children with certain types of cancer or other disease.
Always consult your child’s pediatrician about any concerns you have.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Staff (2009). Vaccines