The Facts About Childhood Vaccines

Vaccines, what are they?

Vaccines are a type of prevention medicine. Vaccines are given to people to help their bodies produce antibodies to protect them from a specific disease. Usually people get sick and their body will create antibodies to that particular germ so they will not get sick by that germ again. Vaccines are given so that people do not have to actually get sick from very dangerous illnesses to make antibodies against the disease. Many of the vaccines that are given to people are from diseases that are very dangerous and many times deadly.

When children receive vaccines they usually cannot get sick by that particular disease. If no one can get a disease then the disease is stamped out. So, vaccines help to keep the children who are vaccinated healthy as well as everyone else healthy.

What are the side effects of vaccines?

Many children who have been vaccinated may experience some mild side effects. The types of side effects a child may experience varies, but may include being fussy, tired, or they may lose their appetite, a child could have tenderness, soreness, swelling, or redness of the injection site, and they could get a mild fever.

With some vaccines there have been rare cases where a child gets an allergic reaction to the vaccine. Parent need to watch their children closely after they have been vaccinated. An allergic reaction to a vaccine would usually happen a few minutes to a few hours after the shot has been given.

Are vaccines really safe?

Overall, vaccines are safe for most children. There are very few cases where a child has actually gotten a disease they have been vaccinated for. It is also very rare for children to have allergic reactions to a vaccine.

There are certain populations of children that should not receive vaccines. A child who has received a previous dose of a vaccine and had an allergic reaction should not receive a following dose of the vaccine. A child who has HIV/AIDS or another type of immune system disease, has cancer or is being treated for cancer, or is on certain drugs should also not get certain vaccines. A child’s doctor will be able to help parents out with their child’s specific case and help them know whether it is safe for the child to get vaccinated.

When should a child receive their vaccinations?

When a child is born, the parent will usually receive a recommended vaccination schedule. A parent can also get the recommended vaccination schedule from their family doctor or from the internet. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians are both organizations that have the recommended vaccination schedule on the internet. For most children, their vaccination schedule will start when they are two months old (some infants actually get their first vaccination when they are first born) and the series will be finished when they are about six years old.

What is a flu shot and does my child really need a flu vaccine on top of all his/her other vaccines?

The flu vaccine is a newer vaccine. It helps to prevent influenza. It is recommended that people get the flu vaccine before the beginning of the flu season; usually this in the months of October or November. The flu shot needs to be given each year because the strain of the flu changes from year to year. It is important for children six months and older (until about 23 months) to get a flu shot because this is an age group that can have complications from the flu.




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