433With the exception of clean water, many people believe vaccines have been the greatest public health success story, changing the face of modern medicine. Immunizations single handedly have increased peoples’ quality of life, saved millions of lives, and eliminated some diseases completely from the United States.
It’s important that we not become victims of our own success. Just because vaccines have been so successful in eradicating disease, does not mean they are not still important. While the levels of disease, for the most part, remain low in this country, the germs that cause the diseases still exist. Getting your child their regularly scheduled shots remains a vital part of their pediatric care and overall well-being. Fortunately, we are living in a time when vaccines are as safe and effective as they have ever been.
How Immunizations Work
Children receive many vaccines in the first two years of life, and this can seem overwhelming as new parent. We’ve already established they are necessary, but why so many? And how do they work?
The basic premise of an immunization is to introduce the body to a milder, weaker form of a germ. In turn, the body mounts a response to this germ and stores it in a memory bank. If your child were to ever encounter this germ in real life, the body would be ready for battle with a response already mounted and waiting.
Infants and children are constantly exposed to germs in their environments, and their immune systems are continually fighting them. The amount of germs in any vaccine or combination of vaccines given to children is far less then the amount they would naturally come into contact with in any given day with simple activities like eating or playing.
There should never be a concern that babies’ bodies are “overwhelmed” by vaccines or that too many shots are given at once. This is how the body is designed to work and the countries top researchers create specific schedules for when babies’ bodies can best respond to shots.
This schedule is constantly re-evaluated and updated based on the latest scientific research. This is why some vaccines require multiple doses spaced by certain time intervals to be most effective.
Alternative vaccines schedules or “spacing” of vaccines is not recommended and has never been proven to be safer or have a better response. In fact, this only leaves your baby unprotected for longer periods of time. It can also create the feeling (for both parent and child) that every time you visit the pediatrician’s office, you get a shot.
You can find the current recommended vaccine schedules here:
Keeping Your Baby Healthy
There is no question that immunizations are the cornerstone of keeping your baby healthy. As a new parent, you are faced with so many decisions for how to best care for your child. As pediatricians, we strongly believe that every child deserves the right to health and urge every child to be vaccinated by the recommended schedule. This not only sets your child up for success but helps to save lives for those in your community as well. It’s a win-win.