childhood vaccines

Be in the Know: Childhood Vaccines

By Amit Jain, MD FAAP MBA | Pediatrician

We’ve all heard about immunizations; the good, the new, the questions, and even the confusion. Unfortunately, confusing and misleading information causes fear or uncertainty in parents who only want the best for their kids with childhood vaccines. The truth is that the significant benefits that have come from childhood vaccinations is can be forgotten and even taken for granted. Humans have benefitted immeasurably from immunizations for over 200 years!

Pediatricians follow the lead and research of the American Academy of Pediatrics which recommends vaccinating children on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Immunization Schedules for Infants, Children, and Adolescents.

Concern and distrust about vaccines is real when there is so much misinformation, lack of knowledge about what vaccines really are and how they work. Let’s clear that up!

What are vaccines?

When various viruses, or other germs enter our body, our immune system sees parts of the germs as foreign (called antigens) and that they don’t belong. Then, our immune system creates a defense against the germs – called antibodies – to attack the viruses. Most vaccines work in the same way, with weakened or dead pieces of the virus (so it is impossible to get the virus from the vaccine) prompting the body’s immune system to create the antibody defense without actually getting the virus – many of which can cause lifelong problems or even death. Vaccines help your body fight the real thing without risking your health to develop the antibodies.

Why give vaccines?

The reason is simple – vaccines save lives! According to the Journal of American Medical Association, there was a 99% decline in deaths from diseases prevented by vaccines given during childhood.

Childhood Vaccines protect against 16 known viruses and bacteria. Before vaccines, these germs caused severe illness, disability and whole-body paralysis, and death. I have personally seen some terrible cases of many of these, such as meningitis, as well as their complications with children being paralyzed, requiring lifelong hearing aids, or needing feeding tubes for infections caused by HiB (Haemophilus influenza Type B), which is now prevented by a vaccine.

Schools also require children to receive at least some immunizations before starting school, and throughout school years.

Are vaccines safe, what about side effects?

Vaccines are generally very safe. They are backed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Family Practice, and the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC). But here is an overview of how vaccines are tested for safety.

It is normal for kids (and adults) to have some mild and temporary symptoms like fever or soreness at the site of the immunization. Serious allergic reactions are extremely rare – like anaphylaxis. As a provider, in weighing the risks and benefits of giving vaccines, as I do for any treatment or prevention, the benefits far outweigh any risks.

When should I get my child immunized?

Childhood vaccines should start right after birth with the Hepatitis B vaccination! From there, there is a specific schedule of when certain immunizations should be given. Pediatricians and Family Practitioners follow the CDC Immunization Schedule for Children and Adolescents that you can find here.

Do you know if your child’s immunizations are up to date? Do you have more questions about vaccines? Call and make an appointment with your child’s NOAH Provider to discuss your child’s immunizations.