Babies are naturally born with protection against some illnesses because their body has natural antibodies. What are antibodies, you might ask? These are proteins manufactured by their body as a natural defense to fight diseases and were passed onto babies by their mothers when they are in the womb. Breastfed babies also continue to receive antibodies through their mother's breast milk. However, in both cases, this protection is only temporary.
How does one maintain this protection throughout childhood? After years of research, clinical trials, and studies, immunization became the answer. Immunization is a way to create immunity to some diseases. Through immunization, small amounts of dead or debilitated microorganisms that cause diseases are reintroduced into the body.
These microorganisms can be viruses (like the measles) or they can be bacteria (such as pneumococcus). Once introduced to the body, through vaccination, these viruses stimulate the immune system to react like there is a real infection. The antibodies that fight the infection (not real, created by the vaccine) remember the organism that causes it. The next time that a "real" organism enters the body, the antibodies can quickly fight them to keep them healthy. (kidshealth.org)
What type of vaccine and when does your child need one?
There are different types of vaccinations that a doctor recommends for your kids to have while growing up. The MMR vaccine for measles, mumps, and rubella are just a few recommendations. These are given by their pediatrician at different ages. The Center for Disease Control provides a schedule of these vaccinations, https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/hcp/imz/child-adolescent.html.
Most doctors recommend that kids should get a combination of vaccines rather than single vaccines whenever possible. This is to reduce the number of shots the child receives to complete their immunizations.
As always, consult your pediatrician, if you have any questions or concerns about your child's immunization schedule.
Concerns about Vaccines
While there are many benefits of getting your child vaccinated, there are parents who are hesitating to do so. Some parents are worried that their child would have a serious reaction to the vaccine or may even get the illness that their are trying to vaccinate against.
Every child reacts different to immunizations. Some children may have mild reactions like soreness on the spot where the shot was administered or fever, but there are few reported serious reactions.
As always, do your research, visit with your pediatrician about the pros and cons.
Protecting the Future Generation
Vaccinations have greatly reduced the number of diseases that have wiped out populations generations ago. One big example is smallpox. If this vaccine did not exist, the disease could easily kill millions of children around the world. However, thanks to the vaccine, this disease was eradicated. If we continue to immunize our kids and immunize completely, there is an assurance that the future generation will not be harmed by some diseases of today (vaccines.gov).
Immunizations are one of the best measures to protect our children from communicable diseases.