Vaccinations for Children, Why and When
None of us wants to see our children get sick. If we could, we would protect them from any illness, no matter how small - even the sniffles.
Now suppose you could make your child safe from some of the most deadly diseases in history....And suppose that at the same time you could also help protect your neighbors' children and other children around the country from the same diseases....And finally, suppose you could actually help to rid the world of some of these diseases that have been crippling and killing children for centuries.
Vaccines are an amazing success story.
Before we discuss the 12 routine childhood vaccines and the diseases they can prevent, let's take a brief look at what vaccines are and how they work. Then we will answer some of the questions parents ask about childhood shots.
How Immunity Works
It is the job of your immune system to protect you from these germs. Here's how it works:
This is a very effective system for preventing disease. The only problem is you have to get sick before you develop immunity.
How Vaccines Help
Vaccines are made from the same germs (or parts of them) that cause disease - measles vaccine is made from measles virus, for instance, and Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib) vaccine is made from parts of the Hib bacteria. But the germs in vaccines are either killed or weakened so they won't make you sick.
Then the vaccines containing these weakened or killed germs are introduced into your body, usually by injection. Your immune system reacts to the vaccine the same as it would if it were being invaded by the disease - by making antibodies. The antibodies destroy the vaccine germs just as they would the disease germs. Then they stay in your body, giving you immunity. If you are ever exposed to the real disease, the antibodies will be there to protect you.
Immunizations help your child's immune system do its work. The child develops protection against future infections, the same as if he or she had been exposed to the natural disease. The good news is, with vaccines your child doesn't have to get sick first to get that protection.
Questions & Answers
How many shots does my child need, and when?
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