Kids are about to return to school, and the important question to ask is if your child has all of their required immunizations? Are these vaccinations really that important after all?
A vaccine is usually composed of a tiny amount of a weakened or dead form of a germ that causes disease. It’s not going to give you the disease. Instead, it can stimulate your immune system to make antibodies against the germ, so that your body is already primed to fight off future exposure.
Vaccinations do vary. Some vaccines last a lifetime, while others require boosters throughout life, like the Tetanus vaccine or the flu vaccine. There are also some vaccines that may not completely prevent you from getting sick, but can lessen the symptoms if you do come down with the illness.
There are a variety of shots that are required for a child’s entry entry into school. Some of the vaccines required for your child are DTP or diptheria, tetanus, and pertussis, haemophilus, MMR or measles, mumps, rubella, varicella or the chicken pox vaccine and the hepatitis vaccine.
The flu shot is not mandatory but is recommended for all kids 6 months or older. This vaccine needs to be administered every year. This year, the seasonal and H1N1 flu vaccine have been combined into one. Depending on your child’s age, they may be eligible for the nasal form of the vaccine as opposed to a shot.
The HPV or human papilloma virus is offered to adolescent girls for the prevention of cervical cancer and genital warts. It’s a series of 3 vaccines. You can discuss the pros and cons with your pediatrician.
Many parents are concerned if vaccines are safe. There has been vast experience and research on vaccine safety, and vaccines are indeed harmless. Although, there can be some minor side effects, like temporary soreness at the injection site and mild fever with some vaccines. Serious side effects are quite rare, however, and there have been virtually no deaths attributed to modern vaccines. For most children, the benefits of disease prevention far outweigh any risks that the vaccines carry.
Another common concern for people is the fear of vaccines causing autism. It is important to make note that there is no credible evidence that vaccines cause autism in children. There was worry about thimerosal, a preservative that contains small amounts of mercury, that is no longer used in the vast majority of vaccines. Another concern included speculation that the MMR vaccine was a possible cause of autism. However, studies have not shown any link between any of the vaccines and autism.
Vaccines are one of the most important medical advances in modern times and are so crucial to keeping our children safe from disease. Vaccines have nearly eradicated many childhood illnesses. Due to the backlash of vaccines in recent years, and the reluctance for some parents to get their kids vaccinated, we’re seeing outbreaks of illnesses that we shouldn’t be seeing. Illnesses like the measles and whooping cough have actually killed children. These are needless and preventable deaths, so get your kids vaccinated.
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