Vaccines are an essential part of childhood healthcare. While some parents might find childhood vaccines concerning, immunization programs have helped save millions of lives from potentially dangerous illnesses. In addition, by giving children immunity from certain infections, vaccines help drive down child mortality and disability due to illness.
Learn more about vaccines by reading the following facts about child immunization.
Vaccines Provide Effective Protection
Vaccines rely on the ability of the immune system to recognize pathogens that it had previously encountered. After someone is exposed to a particular infection, the immune system builds memory cells that can recognize the offending germ, should it reappear in the future. When the same pathogen invades the body, the immune system mounts a quick and effective response to eliminate the invader before it can cause an illness.
Vaccine formulations contain dead or weakened versions of the pathogen called antigens. Once your doctor injects the formulation, the immune system will be able to recognize it and build defenses against the antigen.
The effects of immunization wane with time, but many vaccines can protect your child for years. Importantly, vaccines shield your child from illnesses that are more dangerous during the early childhood years.
Vaccines Are Safe
While vaccines are known to contain parts of viruses or bacteria, proper formulations are proven safe. Vaccines that carry whole antigens use extensive processes to weaken the pathogen, ensuring that they are unable to multiply inside the human body and cause diseases. Other vaccines can work with just pieces of the pathogen, making it impossible for illness to occur while still providing the immune system with enough stimulation.
Vaccines also contain other ingredients designed to enhance the immune system response. For instance, adjuvants trigger local immune cells or suppress the natural elimination of the vaccine, giving the immune system more exposure to the antigen.
Before a vaccine is used in childhood immunization plans, they pass through human clinical trials to confirm the effectiveness and identify any side effects. Having ample participants allows researchers to identify as many interactions as possible, no matter how rare, and then recommend countermeasures.
Vaccines Protect Everyone
Vaccinations are the key to herd immunity. When most of the population is immune, pathogens cannot easily spread from one person to another. The fewer cases there are of a particular illness, the less likely it can spread to vulnerable populations and cause outbreaks.
Herd immunity protects even unvaccinated people who are unable to receive the vaccine. Some people have allergic reactions that prevent them from safely receiving current vaccine formulations. Others might have weak immune systems that cannot respond properly to antigens. Religious grounds are also a valid reason for being unable to take a vaccine. By vaccinating your child, you are also helping these populations by shielding them from disease.
Vaccines also indirectly keep pathogens from evolving into more dangerous forms. Every time bacteria or viruses reproduce, there is a small chance for the organism to develop errors in its genetic material. This is called a mutation. Most mutations are harmful, and some allow the pathogen to spread more quickly, cause more severe symptoms, and evade the immune system. Immunization programs can limit the overall prevalence of a particular disease, reducing the chances of pathogens mutating into various strains.
Vaccine Scheduling Have Many Options
Many vaccines require two or more shots to be effective, with a sufficient interval between shots to give the immune system time to respond. With more than a dozen childhood illnesses covered, recommended vaccine schedules span from birth up to 18 years of age.
Fortunately, these schedules are reasonably flexible. Even if your child misses a particular dose, there are catch-up schedules that will still allow your child to become fully immunized against particular diseases.
If your child is at higher risk for illness, your doctor might recommend modified vaccine schedules involving more shots with modified timing. To help you navigate these vaccine schedules, consult with your doctor, who can guide you on the specific shots that your child will need.
Side Effects Are Natural
A number of vaccines cause side effects, but most cases are mild. Side effects mean that the immune system is recognizing and reacting to the vaccine. Mild side effects include injection site inflammation, fatigue, and fever. Home remedies, such as getting enough rest and ensuring proper hydration, are enough to help your child cope with these effects.
While extremely rare, more serious side effects may appear after vaccination. In these cases, consulting with your doctor can help you implement the appropriate treatment.
Pediatric Vaccinations in Tuckahoe, NY
Vaccinations are crucial in ensuring that your child enjoys a healthy childhood. Now, you know how vaccines work, how they benefit your child and others, and what to expect from a vaccination. Make sure to work with a family medicine practitioner that can answer your questions and help your child access appropriate vaccines.
If you’re looking for a clinic in Tuckahoe, NY, that offers pediatric vaccinations, visit us at Village Pediatric Group! We welcome patients from newborns to adults age 21 years old. Our doctors deliver high-quality care in a multicultural environment, ensuring that your family receives the best of what we can offer. Learn more by calling us at (914) 771-7070 or by using our appointment request form.