Immunizations Q & A
What Are Vaccines?
Vaccines help the body protect against life-threatening, infectious diseases. When a germ invades the body, the immune system recognizes it as a foreign invader and makes antibodies, which will either inactivate the germ or mark it for destruction. Vaccines raise immune responses so that when a germ invades the body, the immune system mounts an immediate attack for faster healing. This gives the body a crucial head start that lets it prevent dangerous infections or make them less severe.
Why are Childhood Vaccines so Important?
Vaccines are a preventative measure protecting from disease. Over the years, vaccines have prevented countless cases of disease and saved millions of lives. When a child is infected with a virus the immune system produces antibodies designed to fight it. This process takes time and because the child’s immune system is still developing it cannot work fast enough to prevent disease from forming, so the child still gets sick. However, the immune system will store a memory of that antigen. If the virus ever enters the body again, even after many years, the immune system will produce antibodies fast enough to keep it from causing disease a second time. This is known as immunity. Through vaccination, children can develop immunity without having to suffer through the diseases that vaccines prevent first.
When Should My Child Get Immunized?
Children should get immunizations when they are babies. It is a general misconception that children don’t need shots until they are ready to enter school. However, it is advised that children receive most of their shots during their first two years, starting at birth or when they are two months old. Immunizing individual children will also help protect the health of the community.