Beyond backpacks, notebooks, and pencils, vaccinations are a vital part of preparing your child for school and a healthy life. In fact, vaccinations are the most powerful tool we have to prevent death and injury from diseases worldwide. For a little ouch, you can give your kids big results in the fight against disease.
What is a Vaccination?
A vaccination refers to the shot that contains a vaccine. A vaccine is a substance that makes a person immune from certain diseases. You may also hear the term immunization in relation to vaccinations. An immunization is the process of becoming protected from a disease. The vaccine (a substance) is given in a vaccination (a shot) which produces immunization (protection from disease).
How do Vaccinations Work?
When a child is infected with a disease, the immune system fights back by producing antibodies. However, it takes time to produce these antibodies. This leaves the child vulnerable to becoming sick with the disease which can be dangerous. Once the body produces antibodies, they can develop fast enough to prevent a disease if the child is every exposed to it again. Vaccinations are a safe way to expose children to a non-harmful level of a disease. The child can then quickly produce antibodies to fight the disease if they are ever exposed to it again.
Are Vaccinations Safe?
Yes. Vaccinations are carefully studied by scientists, doctors, and health professionals before being approved. Vaccinations prevent death and injury from diseases. In fact, the World Health Organization reports that vaccinations prevent 2 to 3 million deaths worldwide each year.
A good example of the benefit of vaccinations is the successful prevention of polio. Because of vaccinations, there are no active polio cases in the U.S. Vaccinations have even completely wiped out some diseases like smallpox. There are no naturally occurring cases of smallpox anywhere in the world because of an effective global vaccination effort. As a result, people no longer need to get vaccinated against smallpox.
As with any medical procedure, there can be side effects. However, most children that receive vaccinations will not have a negative reaction. If side effects occur, most will show up within 2 weeks of receiving the vaccination. These include:
- Cold symptoms like a sore throat, stuffy nose, and body aches
- Mild fever
- Muscle pain at the injection site
Rarely, more serious side effects can occur such as an allergic reaction. A study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that only 33 people out of 25 million had a serious reaction to a vaccination.
Do Vaccinations Cause Autism?
No. Scientists and have thoroughly researched the theory that vaccinations could cause autism. Researchers have found no credible evidence that links vaccines with autism according to The Autism Science Foundation. Unfortunately, rumor and suspicion have prevented some parents from vaccinating their children from life threatening diseases. Vaccinations are the number one defense against the spread of diseases, which is why they are required for all school age children.
Which Vaccinations Should My Child Receive?
Experts have developed a complete schedule of vaccinations for children from birth to 18 years old. Your pediatrician can guide you through each stage of vaccinating your child. It's important to follow the schedule closely since many vaccinations require several doses over a specific timeframe. The schedule is developed to keep pace with your child's age and development. This strategy provides your child with the maximum benefit that vaccinations can offer.
Vaccinations have prevented deaths and injuries from diseases for millions worldwide. This medical advancement has even eliminated certain diseases. Keeping your child on track with their vaccination schedule prepares them for a happy, healthy future. Making sure school aged children are vaccinated reduces the chances of widespread and potentially life-threatening illnesses. Start the school year off right by vaccinating your child!