HOW A BABY’S IMMUNE SYSTEM WORKS:
Most children are born with an immune system that learns to recognize germs. When a germ enters the body, the immune system creates antibodies that are specific to that particular germ. These antibodies multiply in order to fight off that germ. They then create memory cells so that the next time that particular germ invades the body, antibodies are produced faster.
The first time a child is exposed to a disease, his body cannot create antibodies quickly enough to prevent him from actually getting sick from the germ. Eventually his antibodies will ramp up to where they can fight off the infection, but not before he suffers from the disease itself, or worse, complications from the disease.
Vaccines provide a solution to this problem by introducing killed or weakened versions of the germs that cause various diseases, thus allowing a child’s body to create antibodies and memory cells without him actually getting sick. This is how vaccines prevent diseases.
THE 2014 IMMUNIZATION SCHEDULE:
The 2014 vaccination schedule for children includes immunization against 14 different illnesses: Chickenpox, Diphtheria, Haemophilus influenza type b, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Flu, Measles, Mumps, Pertussis (whooping cough), Polio, Pneumococcus, Rotavirus, Rubella,and Tetanus.
WHY SHOULD YOU VACCINATE?
Children are immunized early in life because that is when they are most susceptible to diseases. Not only do we want to protect them from these diseases, we want to prevent complications (see chart for complications associated with the diseases that we can immunize against).
Q: Are vaccines safe?
A: Yes, vaccines are very safe. The most common side effects are pain/swelling at the injection site and low-grade fever.
Q: Is there a link between vaccines and autism?
A: No, scientific studies continue to show no relationship between vaccines and autism.
Q: Why are there so many doses?
A: Oftentimes, more than one dose is needed to build high enough levels of antibodies to prevent that disease.
Q: If I missed a dose, do we have to start over?
A: No, you do not have to restart the vaccination series. See your doctor for a catch-up schedule.
Q: What about delaying vaccines or doing an alternative schedule?
A: Alternative schedules are not approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Academy of Pediatrics, or American Academy of Family Physicians. Furthermore, children do not receive any known benefits from delaying vaccines. In fact, by delaying vaccines, they remain at risk of contracting diseases during the time that the shots are delayed.
Michelle Suhendra, MD, FAAP
Memorial Hermann Medical Group – Texas Medical Center
6400 Fannin Street, Suite 2015
Houston, TX 77030