What you need to know about childhood vaccinesAs a soon-to-be first-time mother, I began receiving advice from family, friends and even strangers about many aspects of parenting from the moment I broke the news I was pregnant.
By: By Jessica Peterson, Public Health, Alexandria Echo Press
As a soon-to-be first-time mother, I began receiving advice from family, friends and even strangers about many aspects of parenting from the moment I broke the news I was pregnant.
Among the advice I’ve received is whether or not to have my child vaccinated against many different diseases. What quickly became clear were the vastly varying opinions by many parents regarding the very important decision of childhood vaccination.
While the decision to vaccinate has proven to be controversial for many in recent years, I would argue that the decision to vaccinate should be fairly straightforward and made by an educated adult.
My goal for this article is to provide information regarding vaccinations from reputable sources within the public health community, such as the Minnesota Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control.
So why does your child need that vaccine in the first place? When germs enter the body, the immune system recognizes them as foreign substances. The immune system then produces the right antibodies to fight the foreign substances.
Vaccines contain antigens that cause diseases. However, the antigens in vaccines are weakened or killed. This means they cannot produce the signs or symptoms of the disease, but they do stimulate the immune system to create antibodies.
These antibodies help protect you if you are exposed to the disease in the future.
According to the Minnesota Department of Health, vaccines are generally quite safe. The protection provided by vaccines far outweighs the very small risk of serious problems.
Vaccinations have resulted in the eradication of smallpox; elimination of polio in the Americas; and control of measles, rubella, tetanus, diphtheria and other infectious diseases in the U.S. and other parts of the world.
Here are a few myths dispelled relating to vaccination.
Myth: My child’s immune system may be weakened by relying on a vaccine.
Truth: The immune system makes antibodies against a germ, like the chickenpox virus, whether it encounters it naturally or is exposed to it through a vaccine.
Myth: My child will get the very disease the immunization is supposed to prevent.
Truth: This is one of the most common concerns about vaccines. However, it’s impossible to get the disease from any vaccine made with dead bacteria or viruses or just part of the bacteria or virus.
Myth: There are no side effects with vaccinations.
Truth: You should be aware that some vaccines may cause mild temporary side effects such as fever, or soreness or a lump under the skin where the shot was given. Your family doctor will talk to you about possible side effects with certain vaccines.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, vaccination tops the list of 10 greatest public health achievements of the 20th century. Don’t miss out on one of the greatest boosts you can give to your child’s health.