One of the most important tasks we as healthcare providers have is to weigh the risks and benefits of any interventions we provide to our patients. We make decisions multiple times a day on whether any intervention outweighs the risks associated with it. The same goes for immunizations. Human beings have benefited from immunizations for over two centuries! Pediatricians, backed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, and Family Medicine Practitioners, backed by the American Academy of Family Practice, widely recommend vaccinating children according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Immunization Schedules for Infants, Children, and Adolescents. Vaccines save lives. They are among the most effective tools for preventing infectious diseases and their complications.
Apprehension about vaccines can come from:
o Lack of knowledge about what they are.
o How they work.
o Concern about their safety.
What are vaccines? When various viruses, bacteria, or other organisms enter the body, the body’s immune system identifies parts of the germs as foreign substances (called antigens). Vaccines similarly present weakened or killed parts of various viruses or bacteria (antigens) to the body, where they can stimulate the immune system to create defense systems called antibodies to be better able to identify and attack the real versions of those viruses and bacteria when the body is exposed to them later. This can then help prevent infection, or help stop the spread or reduce the severity of the infection from early in the course of the infection.
Why give vaccines? Vaccines protect against 16 known viruses and bacteria. These germs have otherwise been known to cause severe disease.
Such diseases and complications include:
o Whole-body paralysis caused by Polio.
o Meningitis (infection of the brain) and its complications caused by a variety of bacteria.
o Whooping Cough caused by Pertussis.
o Oral and Genital Cancers caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).
I remember hearing many stories of the terrible cases of meningitis, as well as their complications such as children paralyzed, or requiring lifelong hearing aids or feeding tubes for infections caused by Haemophilus influenza Type B (HiB), for which there is now a vaccine. Children are also required to receive at least some immunizations before starting school, and throughout schooling.
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). There are some mild and temporary symptoms such as fever or soreness or a lump at the site of the immunization. Rarely are there any serious allergic reactions (anaphylaxis). As a provider, in weighing the risks and benefits of giving vaccines, as I do for any intervention, the benefits far outweigh any risks.
When should I get my child immunized? Immunizations 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 generally follow the CDC Immunization Schedule for Children and Adolescents that you can find HERE.
Where can I find out more about immunizations my child should receive? The best place to find information about vaccinations, what disease they protect against, and when your child should get immunized is on the CDC website.
Do you know if your child’s #immunizations are up-to-date? Do you have more questions about #vaccines? Our Care Team at NOAH is here to help answer your questions. Discuss your child’s immunizations with their physician by scheduling an appointment at 480-882-4545 or click the button below today!