Diagnosis, treatment, and services for your everyday medical needs such as flu shots and lab work.
We are blessed to live in a world that has dozens of options for us to heal and rejuvenate ourselves—vaccines being the most important. Thanks to all the doctors and scientists of the world, we now don’t have to be frightened of getting sick, however, when talking about children, vaccinations are that much more important because of their ability to prevent certain illnesses before they ever happen. There are cases where babies are born with protection against some diseases because their mothers pass antibodies (proteins made by the body to fight disease) to them before birth, but getting your child vaccinated is still crucial to their overall health.
Immunization (vaccination) is a way to create immunity to some diseases. Sometimes this is done by using small amounts of a killed or weakened germ that causes the disease. Other times the vaccine is simply a small piece of the germ, such as a protein or a piece of its genetic material.
Germs can be viruses (such as the measles virus) or 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 germ. Then, it can fight the germ if it enters the body later.
For good reason, childhood vaccines can seem overwhelming when you are a new parent. Vaccine schedules recommended by agencies and organizations, such as the CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Family Physicians cover just about 14 different diseases. These vaccinations not only protect your child from deadly diseases, such as polio, tetanus, and diphtheria, but they also keep children safe by significantly decreasing harmful diseases that used to spread from child to child.
It’s important to know that vaccines are dead, weakened versions, or part of the germ that causes the disease in question. When children are exposed to a disease in vaccine form, their immune system, which is the body’s germ-fighting machine, can build antibodies that protect them from contracting the disease when they are exposed to the actual disease. However, over the years, vaccines have generated some controversy over safety, but no convincing evidence of harm has been found. And although children can react to any vaccine, the important thing to know is that the benefits of vaccinations far outweigh the possible side effects.
In most cases, a child gets vaccinated between birth and 6 years. Typically, vaccines are given more than once, at different ages, and in combinations. This means that you should keep a careful record of your child’s shots. Although your healthcare provider will also keep track, people change physicians, records get lost, and the person ultimately responsible for keeping track of your child’s immunizations is you!
Ask your child’s healthcare provider for an immunization record form. This form is incredibly important and every parent should keep it with their other essential documents. Also, you can download an easy-to-read immunization schedule and record form at the CDC website.
Even though most parents and providers do a great job of keeping up with immunizations, studies show that about one-fourth of preschool children are missing at least one routine vaccination, which is important to know because most states will not let your child begin school without a complete immunization record. Sometimes a vaccination is missed when a child is sick, but no matter what the reason, it’s important to make up missed immunizations.
If your child has missed a vaccination shot, you don’t have to go back and start over as the previous immunizations are still good. Your doctor will just resume the immunization schedule, and if for any reason, your child receives additional doses of a vaccine, you shouldn’t sweat it as your child will still need any future doses according to the recommended schedule.
Although vaccines are combined to reduce the number of shots needed, the list is still long. So, to give an easy breakdown here is a typical immunization schedule recommended by age 2.
One vaccination for measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR).
Four vaccinations for influenza, a common upper respiratory infection that can also cause meningitis.
Three to four polio vaccinations (IPV).
Four vaccinations for diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DPT).
Three vaccinations for hepatitis B.
One vaccination for varicella (chickenpox) no earlier than age 12 months and only if your child does not develop chickenpox on his or her own (must be verified by a health care provider).
Three vaccinations for rotavirus, a type of infection that causes severe diarrhea.
Four vaccinations for pneumococcal disease, a common cause of ear infections and pneumonia.
From age 4 to 6, your child will need booster shots for DPT, IPV, MMR, and chickenpox. Children should also start receiving a yearly flu shot after the age of 6 months. A vaccination for hepatitis A is recommended for all children. This is a lot to keep track of and why you need an immunization records form.
There are some parents who may hesitate to have their kids vaccinated. The concern is that their child might have a serious reaction or get the illness the vaccine prevents, but the components of vaccines are weakened or killed and in some cases, only parts of the germ are used. Thus, making them unlikely to cause any serious illness. Some vaccines indeed cause mild reactions, such as soreness where the shot was given or a fever however, serious reactions are rare. The truth is that the risks of vaccinations are small compared with the health risks of the diseases they’re intended to prevent.
At the end of the day, immunizations are one of the best ways to protect your family from contagious diseases. Vaccinations have allowed us to live more freely and be less frightened of all the illnesses our unforgiving world has to offer, and luckily, the friendly staff at Chai Care will always be here to give your child the medicine they need to live a beautiful life.
* Legal disclaimer: The content of this article and the entire Chai Care blog is for educational purposes only; it does NOT constitute medical advice and must not be considered as such. Please consult a medical professional regarding any symptoms or health concerns you or your loved ones.