Except for clean water, many people believe vaccines have been the greatest public health success story, changing the face of modern medicine. Immunizations have increased people’s quality of life, saved millions of lives, and eliminated some diseases completely from the United States.
It is important that we do not become victims of our own success. Just because vaccines have been so successful in eradicating disease, does not mean they are not still important. While the levels of these vaccine preventable diseases, for the most part, remain low in this country, the germs that cause the diseases still exist and often at higher rates in other parts of the world.
If we don’t keep high vaccination rates against vaccine-preventable diseases, they can come back. Getting your child their regularly scheduled shots remains a vital part of their pediatric care and overall well-being. Vaccines are held to high safety standards and there are even more safety monitoring systems put in place than what we’ve seen in the past.Without high vaccination rates, vaccine-preventable diseases can come back. Click To Tweet
How immunizations work
Children receive many vaccines in the first two years of life, and this can seem overwhelming as new parent. We’ve already established they are necessary, but why so many? And how do they work?
The basic premise of an immunization is to introduce the body to a milder, weaker form of a germ. In turn, the body mounts a response to this germ and stores it in a memory bank. If your child were to ever encounter this germ in real life, the body would be ready for battle with a response already mounted and waiting.
Infants and children are constantly exposed to germs in their environments, and their immune systems are continually fighting them. The amount of germs in any vaccine or combination of vaccines given to children is far less than the amount they would naturally come into contact with in any given day with simple activities like eating or playing.
Common side effects
Common side effects of vaccinations can include:
- Low-grade fever
- Mild flu-like symptoms
- Soreness where you received a shot
There should never be a concern that babies’ bodies are “overwhelmed” by vaccines or that too many shots are given at once. This is how the body is designed to work and the country’s top experts create specific schedules for when babies’ bodies can best respond to shots.
This schedule is routinely re-evaluated and updated based on the latest scientific research. Some vaccines require more than one dose.
Andrea Polkinghorn, immunization strategy leader for Sanford Health, explained that for some vaccines, more than one dose is needed to build more complete immunity. For some vaccines, protection begins to wear off over time and a “booster” dose is needed.
Finally, Polkinghorn said, in the case of flu vaccines, everyone 6 months and older needs to get a dose every year because different flu viruses can be circulating each year, and protection from a flu vaccine wears off with time.
Alternative vaccine schedules or “spacing” of vaccines is not recommended and has never been proven to be safer or have a better response. In fact, this only leaves your baby unprotected for longer periods of time. It can also create the feeling (for both parent and child) that every time you visit the pediatrician’s office, you get a shot.
You can find the current recommended vaccine schedules online:
- Infants and children from birth through 6 years
- Preteens and teens 7 through 18 years old
- Adults 19 or older
- Adults with health, work or travel conditions
Keeping your baby healthy
There is no question that immunizations are the cornerstone of keeping your baby healthy. As a new parent, you are faced with so many decisions about how to best care for your child. As providers, we strongly believe that every child deserves the right to health and urge every child to be vaccinated by the recommended schedule. This not only sets your child up for success but helps to save lives for those in your community as well. It is a win-win.
- Vaccination FAQs and when kids need each shot
- Baby’s 1st birthday: Your child’s 12-month checkup
- Well child visits important for children of all ages