Medicine has come a long way since the first vaccine was provided. Since then, vaccines have been able to prevent many childhood diseases, flus, cancers and more, keeping the population a little healthier. In honor of National Vaccination Month, we’ll explore how vaccinations work, the benefits, risks and other general information about vaccinations.
How Vaccinations Work
When the body becomes infected, the immune system goes to work. White blood cells work to fight off the infection so the body can heal. For children, and especially babies, the immune system isn’t yet strong enough to fight off some forms of illness.
Since the immune system is still forming and getting stronger, babies and children are more susceptible to serious illness or death.
This is where vaccinations come in.
Let’s say your child is scheduled to receive a vaccination for Tuberculosis. What’s in the actual vaccination is a weakened dose of the disease. The dose has been weakened to the point where the child’s immune system will be able to fight it off.
In fighting off the disease, the body’s immune system builds up antibodies, and thus, the immune system becomes stronger. This means the child, should he be faced with the disease in life, will have antibodies built up that will be able to fight the disease off.
In this way, vaccinations are saving the lives of babies and small children everywhere.
Many of the benefits are stated in how vaccinations work, but for a recap, here is a list of benefits provided by the office of vaccination research:
- Vaccinations can save your child’s life—many life threatening childhood diseases are now prevented through vaccinations
- Vaccinations are generally safe—through time tested trials and studies, vaccinations have proven over and over again to be safe and effective
- Immunizations keep the population at large healthier—when your child is vaccinated, it keeps others healthier as well. Outbreaks of diseases like measles have recently made headlines. These diseases, though rare thanks to vaccinations, can resurface and will affect those not vaccinated.
- Vaccinations save time and money—children can be denied entrance into a school or childcare facility if they are not vaccinated. This causes stress, anxiety and can impede on your valuable time. Additionally, should a child be affected by a disease that was preventable through immunization, the costs could be considerable.
- Vaccinations protect future generations—thanks to immunizations, some diseases have been greatly reduced or completely eliminated, which means the future generations are safer than they once were.
As with any medication, certain risks are involved when it comes to vaccines. According to the CDC, these risks vary and are extremely rare. Some children can become ill from a vaccine or have an allergic reaction. It is important to consult your child’s doctor about potential risks.
The CDC also reports certain side effects can occur. Here are some of the most common:
- Soreness of the injection site
- Mild fever
- Loss of appetite
- Irritability and/or crankiness
Side effects usually show up within a few hours to a day later. If you notice anything more severe, it’s important to contact your child’s doctor immediately. Overall, the benefits of immunizations greatly outweigh the risks. Without them, diseases like Polio and Tuberculosis could still threaten our communities.
Do you have questions or concerns about where to find information on vaccines? Contact MAP today and we’ll be happy to help you.