Facts About Immunizations

The advent of widespread vaccinations has caused the number of cases of formerly common childhood illnesses like measles and diphtheria to drop dramatically. Some diseases rarely crop up now, that it’s got parents thinking if vaccines are still necessary. This is a common misconception about vaccinations.

The truth is, most of these diseases (that vaccines can prevent) still exist. Vaccinations are still necessary to keep your kids healthy.

What immunizations do

Vaccines basically prepare a child’s body to fight illness. Immunizations contain either a dead or weakened germ or virus, or parts of it.

The body practices fighting the disease by making antibodies that recognize specific parts of that virus or germ. This means that when a person is exposed to the actual disease, the bodies are already in place, the body already knows how to fight the disease, and the person doesn’t get sick. This is called immunity.

Does relying on a vaccine weaken a child’s immune system?

Vaccines do not weaken the immune system. The body’s immune system creates antibodies against a germ or virus regardless of whether it encounters it naturally or through a vaccine.

Common concerns about immunizations

  • Can immunizations give someone the disease they’re trying to prevent? A common concern about immunizations is that they can give someone the disease they’re trying to prevent. But the thing is, it’s impossible to get the disease from any vaccine made with dead virus or germ, or part of it. Immunizations with weakened live viruses or germs could possibly cause a person to develop a mild form of the disease.
  • Immunizations are not 100 effective. Even if they aren’t 100% effective – as most things in medicine are – immunizations are your best bet against diseases. Immunizations are 85-99% effective; meaning they greatly reduce a child’s risk of developing a serious illness, and lower the chances of diseases to take hold in the population.
  • Do immunizations cause medical problems in children? Numerous studies found no link between vaccines and problems like autism, SIDS, multiple sclerosis, etc.
  • Do you still need to be immunized if the disease has been eliminated? The answer is yes. Diseases that are rare or nonexistent in the US still exist in other parts of the world. Doctors continue to administer vaccines against them because it’s easy to catch these diseases when you travel.
  • How long does immunity last after getting a vaccine? A few vaccines such the one for measles and hepatitis B may make you immune for life. Others like tetanus and whooping cough vaccines, last for many years but require periodic shots for continued protection against the disease. Then there those like the flu vaccine that you need to take every year. This is because the protection wears off, and the flue virus constantly changes (new strain). Vaccines are updated every year to include the most current strain of the virus. Remember to keep a record of your children’s vaccinations so you’ll know when you’re child is due for a booster.
  • Continues study and improvements. Vaccines are continuously studied and improved to reduce possible side effects and ensure the best possible safety standards. The FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research is the government agency responsible for regulating vaccines in the United States. Together with the CDC and the NIH, they continue to research and monitor vaccine safety and effectiveness.

Source: MSN