August is National Immunization Awareness Month
VACCINE-PREVENTABLE DISEASE HAS DECLINED BY OVER 99% SINCE THE INTRODUCTION OF VACCINES
Vaccination is one of the best ways parents can protect infants, children and teens from potentially harmful diseases. Vaccine-preventable diseases can be very serious, may require hospitalization, or even be deadly – especially in infants and young children.
Young babies can get very ill from vaccine-preventable diseases. The vaccination schedule is designed to protect young children before they are likely to be exposed to potentially serious diseases and when they are most vulnerable to seri-ous infections.
HOW THEY WORK
Vaccines help develop immunity by imitating an infection, but this “imitation” infection does not cause illness. It does, however, cause the immune system to develop the same response as it does to a real infection so the body can recog-nize and fight the vaccine-preventable disease in the future.
Sometimes, after getting a vaccine, the imitation infection can cause minor symptoms, such as fever. Such minor symp-toms are normal and should be expected as the body builds immunity.
As a parent, you may be concerned when you watch your baby get 3 or 4 shots during a doctor’s visit. But remember, all of those shots add up to your baby being protected against 14 infectious diseases.
Although children continue to get several vaccines up to their second birthday, these vaccines do not overload the im-mune system. Vaccines contain ingredients, called antigens, which cause the body to develop immunity. Every day, your healthy baby’s immune system successfully fights off thousands of antigens-the parts of germs that cause the body’s immune system to respond. The antigens in vaccines come from weakened or killed germs so they cannot cause serious illness. Vaccines contain only a tiny amount of the antigens that your baby encounters every day, even if your child re-ceives several vaccines in one day.