There has been plenty of debate over vaccines in recent years, and during National Immunization Awareness Month, we want to stress how getting vaccinations can be an important building block for starting a healthy life. Read on to find out what they do, why they’re important for children and what side effects they have.
What Do Vaccines Do?
Vaccines were designed to help our body’s immune system prevent diseases that can range from dangerous to potentially deadly. When you come into contact with bacteria or viruses that cause illness, your white blood cells mobilize to fight off infection. After successfully stopping the spread of the infection, the remaining white blood cells are familiar with the specific disease and are equipped to stop it in the future.
So, where do vaccines come into this process? They imitate infections in a way that won’t cause illness, while allowing your immune system to develop proper defenses against a multitude of diseases. Recipients may feel a fever or other minor symptoms as their bodies are battling the imitation infection, but these effects are to be expected as a natural part of building immunity.
Why Are Vaccines Important for Children?
It may seem like an overbearing process when a doctor recommends that your baby receive three or four shots in one appointment. As a protective parent, you want to keep your pride and joy safe, and while we definitely understand that, these few shots can provide immunity for up to 14 infectious diseases.
Though infants receive many vaccines in the first two years of their lives, you won’t have to worry about their immune systems being overmatched. Babies encounter thousands of germs everyday, which their bodies successfully fight off, and immunizations only contain a small amount of bacteria or viruses. Babies can get very sick from diseases that are preventable by vaccine, so trust your doctor’s recommendations regarding the timing of shots.
What Are the Side Effects?
Aside from strengthened immunity, what can come from vaccines? This is a common worry among parents. We’re sure you’ve seen some of the claims, but we can assure you that the risks of having children vaccinated are far outweighed by the life-threatening risks of not vaccinating at all.
Common side effects are mild, including redness, soreness and swelling at the injection site, along with a fever. These usually disappear within days and are not a cause for concern. Serious side effects are rare, like severe allergic reaction, and we recommend that you call your child’s doctor if you see something concerning beyond the previously mentioned redness, soreness, etc.
We hope you’ve learned a lot about immunization and that you feel more confident in protecting your baby against infection. If you have additional questions and concerns about vaccines, consult with a doctor. You can also read more about immunization from the CDC at www.cdc.gov/vaccines/.