Immunization plays a critical role in protecting the health of your children. The vaccines cheat the immune system into believing that it has been infected, when in fact it is not. But when the person is exposed to the disease, the immune system is activated and protects the body from infection. This way, your child will not get sick and will help prevent diseases from spreading to other children.
Vaccines have contributed significantly to the reduction of many childhood diseases, such as polio, measles, and whooping cough. Now we are very lucky because many of these conditions sound like relics of times gone by. A child born today expects to live 30 years longer than a child born in the last century, according to the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). Nowadays, it is rare for children living in the United States to experience the devastating effects of these diseases. But vaccines are still an important and necessary part of protecting your children’s health. Why? We live in a growing global society, therefore we are exposed to the germs that cause diseases and that can end up causing death, but that can be avoided by vaccines. People who are not vaccinated may not be protected.
Like any other medicine, vaccines have their benefits as well as their risks, and no vaccine is 100 percent effective in preventing the disease. But the fact is that a child is more likely to be seriously affected by one of these diseases than by the vaccine itself, according to the CDC. In general, the side effects of vaccines are small and short-lived. The child may feel some pain at the injection site or experience fever to a slight degree. More serious reactions to vaccines are extremely rare.
American research companies are making great efforts to discover and develop vaccines and other medicines to treat conditions that affect our children. Today, there is a vaccine routinely recommended for girls between 11 and 12 years old that protects against four different types of human papillomavirus (HPV), which together cause 70 percent of cervical cancer, according to the CDC . And, recently the CDC reported that a new vaccine against rotavirus – a condition that causes severe vomiting and diarrhea between infants and younger children, resulting in more than ten thousand hospitalizations a year – is having a significant impact, leading to the lowest Incident rate since the CDC began monitoring it 15 years ago.
Going back to school can cause a stir in families – sometimes it’s hard to remember to pack your child’s lunch! It is normal that it is sometimes difficult to keep track of all the vaccines they need during their childhood. But it’s worth the effort, it’s even required by law in some states. Call your pediatrician or the school administration office to find out what vaccines your children may need. You can also visit the CDC’s website, www.cdc.gov, to obtain immunization information for children according to their ages. If your child or adolescent missed a vaccine, talk to your doctor so he can provide it. This can save the life of your child or someone else’s.