Immunizations have had an enormous impact on improving the health of children in the United States.
Most parents today have never seen first-hand the devastating consequences that vaccine-preventable diseases have on a family or community. While these diseases are not common in the U.S., they persist around the world. It is important that we continue to protect our children with vaccines because outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases can and do occasionally occur in this country.
Vaccination is one of the best ways parents can protect infants, children and teens from 16 potentially harmful diseases.
Vaccine-preventable diseases can be very serious, may require hospitalization or even be deadly – especially in infants and young children. Babies are born with protection against certain diseases because antibodies from their mothers were passed to them through the placenta. After birth, breastfed babies get the continued benefits of additional antibodies in breast milk. However in both cases, the protection is temporary. Immunization (vaccination) is a way of creating immunity to certain diseases by using small amounts of a killed or weakened microorganism that causes the particular disease.
Microorganisms can be viruses (such as the measles virus) or they can be bacteria (such as pneumococcus). Vaccines stimulate the immune system to react as if there were a real infection — it fends off the “infection” and remembers the organism so that it can fight it off quickly should it enter the body later.
Types of Vaccines
There are a few different types of vaccines. They include:
Attenuated (weakened) live viruses which are used in some vaccines such as in the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. Killed (inactivated) viruses or bacteria that are used in some vaccines, such as in IPV. (inactivated poliovirus virus) Toxoid vaccines contain an inactivated toxin produced by the bacterium. For example, the diphtheria and tetanus vaccines are toxoid vaccines. Conjugate vaccines (such as Hib) contain parts of bacteria combined with proteins.
What Vaccines Does Your Child Need?
The following vaccinations are recommended by the AAP. Please note that some variations are acceptable and that changes in recommendations often occur as new vaccines are developed. Your doctor will determine the best vaccinations and schedule for your child.
- Chickenpox vaccine Varicella
- Diphtheria, Tetanus & Pertussis (DTaP)
- Hepatitis A vaccine (HAV)
- Hepatitis B vaccine (HBV)
- Hemophilus Influenza B vaccine (Hib)
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine
- Influenza vaccine
- Measles, Mumps & Rubella vaccine (MMR)
- Meningococcal/Meningitis vaccine
- Pneumococcal vaccines (PCV)
For further information please go to the following links:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC
- American Academy of pediatrics
- Vaccinate your baby