Children's Health

Immunizations

Mother holding her infant

Childhood Immunizations

Immunizations are a hot topic recently in modern media; however, not many people are familiar with the diseases that these new immunizations are meant to treat because the immunizations are so effective. There are a multitude of childhood immunizations, most of which are administered at a very young age. Ideally, boosters of common immunizations are given throughout childhood and adulthood. Many questions that come up about immunizations include - are they safe, are they effective and what kinds should children receive and when?

The simple answer to whether immunizations are safe is yes they are. Vaccines are safer now than they have ever been before due to the large amounts of testing and technological advances. Skeptics claim that vaccines cause autism or have severe side effects; however, both of these claims are not true. There currently are no valid studies which links autism to vaccines. Moreover, reactions to vaccines are extremely rare and those that do get reactions usually have incredibly mild reactions like itchiness or warmth at the injection sight. These mild reactions are not dangerous and only last up to a few days. About 1,737 severe reactions are reported each year, but there is no evidence to support that all of these reactions were actually caused by vaccines. Even if every reported reaction is legitimate, the numbers are still very low in relation to the millions of vaccines administered each year. The measles vaccine alone is reported to save a million lives a year, so it is easy to see the benefits far outweigh the vaccine risks.

It is true that even if a vaccine is administered correctly it may not be effective for every person. If everyone is vaccinated around that person, however, then there is little risk that this person will contract or spread any vaccinated disease. This idea is called herd immunity. As long as the majority of people are vaccinated then the populous is largely safe. Vaccines work by introducing the body's immune system to a harmlessly small portion of the illness. This triggers the immune system's natural response and the body does the rest by fighting off the illness. Once the illness has been fought off, the body knows how to fight it in the future and the result is immunity. This is a completely natural response to the introduction of a harmful pathogen. Immunizations are a marvel of modern science and are incredibly effective at preventing diseases in a large majority of people.

There are very detailed immunization schedules for both children and adults. Although infants seem very vulnerable, their immune systems are very effective at developing immunity to diseases through immunizations. Immunization schedules are generally accepted and thoroughly tested schedules throughout the medical community. The best place to figure out the required vaccines for each age group is to speak to a qualified pediatrician. Common illnesses prevented by vaccinations include chickenpox, diphtheria, flu, hepatitis A and B, Hib, measles, mumps, polio, pneumococcal, rotavirus, rubella, tetanus, and pertussis for young children and flu, HPV, meningococcal, and Tdap for preteens and teenagers. Some schools and colleges have further requirements for immunizations that should be looked into as well.

Our current society is privileged to be unaware of the horrible conditions that people in the past have suffered with. Because of vaccines, illnesses that once killed thousands of children now are almost eradicated from the country. There has been a surge in the numbers of people inflicted with certain conditions such as measles because of the anti-vaccination movement. Doctors and other healthcare professionals, however, have overwhelmingly insisted that vaccinating children and keeping up with boosters throughout adulthood is the best way to prevent these once deadly diseases.