Immunizations are one of the success stories of modern medicine. It’s no mystery that because of immunizations, most children in our nation lead much healthier lives and parents live with much less worries over infections during childhood.
What are Immunizations? Simply put, according to WebMD, when you get an immunization, you’re injected with a weakened form of (or a fragment of) a disease. That’s a good thing, since this triggers your body’s immune response, causing it to either produce antibodies to that particular ailment or induce other processes that enhance immunity.
Bottom line: immunizations protect us from serious diseases and prevent the spread of those diseases to others. Over the decades, immunizations have reduced or ended epidemics of once common infectious diseases, including: measles, mumps, and whooping cough. And yes, as a result of immunizations, our society has seen the near eradication of other dreaded illnesses, such as polio and smallpox.
Immunizations vary. Some vaccines need to be given only once, while others require updates or “boosters” to maintain successful immunization and continued protection against disease.
According to WebMD, the recommended immunizations for children 0-6 years of age include:
- Hepatitis B
- Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis
- Haemophilus influenzae type B
- Measles, mumps, rubella
- Varicella (chickenpox)
- Hepatitis A
- Meningococcal (for certain high-risk groups)
It’s vital to keep your child’s immunizations on schedule and updated. If your child misses a scheduled dose, he or she can “catch up” later, but, again, be sure to stay on track and committed to a schedule.
The complete updated schedule of immunizations for children ages 0-18 can be downloaded from the CDC web site.
(Photo credit: National Academy of Sciences)