Why Vaccines are So Important
Vaccination is one of the best ways parents can protect infants, children, and teens from 16 potentially harmful diseases. Vaccine-preventable diseases can be very serious, may require hospitalization, or even be deadly – especially in infants and young children. Immunizations have had an enormous impact on improving the health of children in the United States. Most parents today have never seen first-hand the devastating consequences that vaccine-preventable diseases have on a child, a family, or a community. While these diseases are not common in the U.S., they persist around the world. It is important that we continue to protect our children with vaccines because outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases like pertussis, mumps, and measles can and do occur in this country.
MAKING THE VACCINE DECISION
As a parent, you want to protect your little ones from harm. Before you decide to vaccinate your baby, you may wish to know more about:
- how vaccines work
- how vaccines work with your baby’s immune system
- vaccine side effects/risks
- vaccine ingredients
- vaccine safety
Ensure your baby gets vaccines according to the CDC’s recommended schedule to give her the best protection against 14 serious diseases by age 2.
HOW VACCINES PREVENT DISEASES
The diseases vaccines prevent can be dangerous, or even deadly. Vaccines reduce your child’s risk of infection by working with their body’s natural defenses to help them safely develop immunity to disease. When germs, such as bacteria or viruses, invade the body, they attack and multiply. This invasion is called an infection, and the infection is what causes illness. The immune system then has to fight the infection. Once it fights off the infection, the body has a supply of cells that help recognize and fight that disease in the future. These supplies of cells are called antibodies. Vaccines help develop immunity by imitating an infection, but this “imitation” infection does not cause illness. Instead it causes the immune system to develop the same response as it does to a real infection so the body can recognize and fight the vaccine-preventable disease in the future. Sometimes, after getting a vaccine, the imitation infection can cause minor symptoms, such as fever. Such minor symptoms are normal and should be expected as the body builds immunity. As children get older, they require additional doses of some vaccines for best protection. Older kids also need protection against additional diseases they may encounter.