Why immunize? The question every parent asks.
Most parents choose to vaccinate their children according to the recommended schedule, but sometimes parents may still have questions about vaccines, and getting answers they can trust may be hard. With so much information—and sometimes incorrect information—available today, learning the facts before making health decisions is very important. This is why we want to help you learn the facts during World Immunization Week.
Quick facts to know about vaccines
1. We all need vaccines throughout our lives to help protect against serious diseases.
2. Outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases can and do still happen in communities across the U.S.
3. CDC and FDA take many steps to make sure vaccines are very safe.
4. Vaccines give you the power to protect your children from getting sick.
5. You can even make sure your baby is born with protection by getting vaccinated when you are pregnant.
6. Vaccines aren't just for kids. They can help adults stay healthy too – especially if they have health conditions.
Strengthening your baby's immune system
Statistically, the chances of your child getting diseases such as measles, pertussis, or other vaccine-preventable diseases are probably low, and your child might never need the protection that vaccines offer. But you don't want them to be lacking the protection vaccines provide if they ever do need it. Think of it this way – you always make sure to buckle your child in their car seat even though you don't expect to be in an accident. Right?
Immunity is the body's way of preventing disease. When your baby is born, his/her immune system is not fully developed, which can put him/her at higher risk for infections. Vaccines reduce your child's risk of infection by working with his/her body's natural defenses to help safely develop immunity to disease. Your child is exposed to thousands of germs every day through the food he/she eats, the air he/she breathes, and the things he/she puts in their mouth. Moreover, babies are born with immune systems that can fight most germs, but there are some deadly diseases they can't handle. That's why they need vaccines to strengthen their immune system. Vaccines use small amounts of antigens to help your child's immune system recognize and learn to fight serious diseases.
Vaccines are safe
The safety of vaccines is often a topic of many media stories. This attention may make you wonder, "How do I know if vaccines are safe?" Making sure vaccines are safe is a priority for the CDC. The CDC and FDA take many steps to make sure vaccines are safe before and after the public begin to use it. Before a vaccine is ever given to people, the FDA oversees extensive lab testing of the vaccine that can take several years to make sure it is safe and effective. After the lab, trial in people begins, and it can take several more years before the clinical studies are complete, and the vaccine is licensed. Once a vaccine is licensed, the FDA, CDC, National Institutes of Health (NIH), and other federal agencies routinely monitor its use and investigate any potential safety concerns.
Like any medicine, vaccines can cause side effects such as a low-grade fever or pain and redness at the injection site. Mild reactions go away within a few days on their own. Severe, long-lasting side effects are extremely rare. If you have questions or concerns about a vaccine, talk with your child's doctor.
Why your child should get vaccinated
Vaccination is a highly effective, safe, and secure way to help keep your family healthy. Vaccines can prevent infectious diseases that once killed or harmed many infants, children, and adults. Without vaccines, your child is at risk for getting seriously ill and suffering pain, disability, and even death from diseases like measles and whooping cough. It is always better to prevent a disease than to treat it after it occurs. By following the approved vaccination schedule through childhood, on-time vaccines can help provide immunity to children before they are exposed to potentially life-threatening diseases.
Vaccines are some of the safest and most effective medicines we have today, and they have made many dangerous childhood diseases rare. Luckily, getting vaccinated is convenient. You can get all the recommended vaccines at your primary care office. Whether you have a baby or an older child, when the time comes for your child to get his or her shots, there are steps you can take to learn about what to expect and how you can prepare.