Immunizations are one of the most important things you can do to help protect your child’s health. Vaccinations are a way for our bodies to develop protection against diseases without having to have the actual disease.
Germs such as bacteria and viruses infect our bodies, causing disease and illness. Our immune system kicks in to fight those illnesses. If our bodies are successful in defeating the illness, we develop cells to fight that illness if ever faced with it again. Vaccines work to help the body develop immunity (the ability to fight the disease) without having to have the actual disease.
Vaccines mimic the illness and help our bodies to develop cells to fight these germs if we are ever faced with the real diseases. These vaccines help prevent our children and us from having illnesses such as meningitis, pneumonia, sepsis, gastroenteritis, and cancer.
The World Health Organization estimates that vaccines save 2-3 million lives every year. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention estimates that for children born from 1994-2016, vaccines will prevent 381 million illnesses, 24.5 million hospitalizations, and 855,000 deaths in their lifetimes.
As a parent, there are currently 16 different diseases you can help protect your child from through immunization. Vaccines protect your child from diseases that are currently still present in our society (like pneumococcal, haemophilus influenza B, tetanus and pertussis) as well as those that are still present in the rest of world and brought over by travel (like measles and polio).
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices develops the immunization schedule and the use of vaccines within the United States. They are constantly reviewing the evidence on vaccine safety and effectiveness to keep our practices as safe and helpful as possible. The ACIP members are always up to date on the latest medical research to ensure that your child receives only the safest vaccinations they need. They only recommend those vaccines where the benefit of the vaccine (not having a serious illness like meningitis or cancer) outweighs the side effects (like mild fever or soreness of the extremity).
You can see the recommended schedule and find out more information on the safety of vaccines on the CDC’s website www.cdc.gov/vaccines. You can make a different choice about vaccines and vaccine schedules than the recommended, and we will honor your choice. However, you cannot make a safer choice. Our recommendation is based on the best medical evidence of what is the most safe and effective schedule to save your child from life threatening diseases.
If you have questions about vaccinations, please talk to your pediatrician.
Dr. Suzanne E.K. Oss, MD, and Dr. Barry M. Wohl, MD, are pediatricians in Sheridan.