When born, babies have the protection against certain diseases because of the antibodies that were passed from their mother to them through the placenta.
Babies who are breast-fed after birth continue to get the benefits of additional antibodies in breastmilk.
Ultimately, that protection is only temporary, which is why immunizations are given to children. Immunizations help create immunity to certain diseases by using small amounts of a killed or weakened microorganism that causes the particular disease. When injected or taken orally, the immune system stimulates the body to produce antibodies. Once produced, the antibodies remain active in the body, ready to fight off the real disease.
Once produced, the antibodies remain active in the body, ready to fight off the real disease. Talk to your family doctor about the vaccinations and recommended schedule. Every year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices publishes a new schedule showing which vaccines are recommended and when to get them. This schedule is endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians.
If your child is behind on immunizations, ask your doctor about the “catch-up” schedule. The following vaccinations are recommended:
- Chickenpox vaccine
- Diptheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccine (DTaP)
- Hepatitis A vaccine
- Hepatitis B vaccine
- Hib vaccine
- Human papillomavirus vaccine
- Influenza vaccine
- Measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR)
- Meningococcal/meningitis vaccine
- Pneumococcal vaccines
- Polio vaccine
- Rotavirus vaccine
Also talk to a doctor about the influenza vaccination to protect during the upcoming influenza season. Current recommendations for influenza vaccine are over 6 months of age. High risk is considered under 2 years of age. Along with handwashing and hygiene, the vaccinations are one of the best ways to reduce the estimated 20,000 per year hospitalization of children under 5 and 140 deaths last year. Despite common thought, you cannot get the flu from the vaccine.
Some parents might have concerns about vaccines. Talk to a family doctor about those concerns. Some vaccines may cause mild symptoms, like soreness or fever. Serious reactions are rare. The risks of vaccinations are small compared with the health risks associated with the diseases they are intended to prevent. Immunizations are one of the best means of protection against contagious diseases.
By Joseph Lamb, MD, ThedaCare Physicians-New London