Simply because, vaccines save lives. You have the power to protect your baby from dangerous illnesses like measles, tetanus and hepatitis. Being a parent is a big responsibility, and the best thing you can do for your child's health is to learn the facts so that you can make the best choices. Thanks to our nation's successful vaccination program, parents today have been spared witnessing the devastating effects of many diseases. Polio, for example, paralyzed millions of children worldwide before the vaccine was created.
Vaccines are recommended for very young children because their immune systems are not yet fully mature and also because their stomachs produce less acid, making it easier for ingested bacteria and viruses to multiply. These factors leave them the most vulnerable to the devastating effects of these serious diseases.
When a baby is developing in the mother's womb it is in a sterile environment. The baby's immune system goes into action at birth, as the child confronts bacteria outside of the womb. But our bodies are an amazing creation with an immune system that is ready to go to work from the moment that we are born. Infants begin to immediately develop an active immune response to these bacteria -- an immune response that prevents these bacteria from entering the bloodstream and causing harm.
Importance of Timing?
Within the first two years of life a child is exposed to 11 or 12 vaccines, some of which are given over time in multiple doses. The degree to which these vaccines challenge a child's immune system is just a drop in the ocean when compared to the tens of thousands of environmental challenges that babies successfully manage every single day. According to the Recommended Immunization Schedule for Persons 0 — 6 years of age, children may receive up to 24 vaccinations to protect them from up to 14 diseases by the time they're 2 years of age. It may seem like a lot of vaccines for your child, but some parents are unnecessarily concerned.
Things you should discuss with your child's health care provider when scheduling vaccinations:
- If your child has had an allergic reaction to a previous vaccination or a vaccine ingredient, such as eggs or gelatin.
- If your child has a high fever, or a history of fever after receiving a vaccination.
Doctors and other public health experts have worked hard to come up with the optimal vaccination schedule, affording the most complete and safest protection possible. It is not advisable to skip or delay vaccines, as this will leave the child vulnerable to disease for a longer period of time. Parents should discuss any concerns with their child's pediatrician.
Here are the essentials to know about each of these vaccines.
HepB protects against hepatitis B (infection of the liver). HepB is given in three shots. The first shot is given at the time of birth. Most states require HepB vaccination for a child to enter school
Influenza (flu) protects against the flu. This is a seasonal vaccine that is given yearly. Flu shots can be given to your child each year, starting at age 6 months. Flu season can run from September through May
DTaP protects against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (whooping cough). It requires five doses during infancy and childhood. DTaP boosters are then given during adolescence and adulthood
Hib protects against Haemophilus influenzae type b. This infection used to be a leading cause of bacterial meningitis. Hib vaccination is given in four doses.
IPV protects against polio and is given in four doses
HepA protects against hepatitis A.
PCV protects against pneumococcal disease. PCV is given in a series of four doses.
RV protects against rotavirus, a major cause of diarrhea. RV is given in two or three doses, depending on the vaccine used.
Varicella protects against chickenpox. Varicella is recommended for all healthy children. It’s given in two doses.
MMR protects against measles, mumps, and rubella (German measles). MMR is given in two doses. The first dose is recommended for infants between 12 and 15 months. The second dose is usually given between ages 4 and 6 years. However, it can be given as soon as 28 days after the first dose.