We all want to make the best choices for our children and keep them safe. Friends and family, social media, and news reports may have a lot to say about vaccinations for children, but do you have the facts? What are vaccinations, why should your child get immunized, and when do they need them?
Let AltaMed take the mystery out of vaccinations so you can protect your child from preventable diseases and help protect those around you.
What Are Vaccinations?
Modern childhood vaccinations have been around for about 60 years. They were developed to stop the spread of infectious diseases that once killed thousands of people each year.
By injecting a small amount of weak or inactive germs into the body, a child’s immune system learns to recognize the disease and develops antibodies (proteins that fight viruses, bacteria, and other harmful substances) to eliminate the threat of illness. This prepares the immune system to protect a child’s body if they ever come into contact with that disease again.
Why Should I Vaccinate My Child?
Getting your child vaccinated between birth and six years of age protects them from 14 deadly diseases including measles, mumps, and polio. Vaccinating your child also helps protect your friends, family, and neighbors who are at greater risk of disease and cannot get vaccinated themselves because they are too young or have certain health problems.
Children are most vulnerable when they are born, and they depend on you to make the right choices to protect them. It is critical to stick to the vaccination schedule provided by your child’s doctor. No matter the age, preventing dangerous diseases outweighs any possible side effects such as slight pain, swelling, or low-grade fever that your child may experience. Take the proper action to build your child’s immune system during their critical developmental stages.
How Safe Are Vaccinations?
The short answer is very. Vaccines are constantly re-evaluated and studied by scientists and researchers. Serious reactions to vaccines are rare, occurring only once in every million doses. According to the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) Immunization Safety Office, the current vaccine supply in the United States is the safest in history.
Are There Rules or Laws About Vaccines?
The state of California requires all children attending public or private school to receive the doctor-recommended immunizations for vaccine-preventable diseases. This mandatory vaccination helps keep overall immunity levels high and protects the community members, including other schoolchildren, who cannot receive vaccinations.
Vaccinating Babies & Children
The recommended immunization schedule that promotes immunity for infants and children begins at birth and carries through to age six. There are 10 vaccines for babies and children for 14 diseases. Although babies are typically born with strong immune systems—and also receive some protection from their mothers through the transmission of antibodies during breast feeding—they still need help fighting bacteria, germs, and viruses.
Even the most cautious parent cannot stop a child from being exposed to disease 100% of the time. Whether it’s from unvaccinated friends, neighbors, or family, or from public places (day care, the grocery store, the park), unvaccinated children under the age of five are at risk of getting sick from a disease.
Vaccinating Adolescent Children
The CDC recommends four vaccines for almost all children ages 11-12: meningococcal, human papilloma virus (HPV), the collective Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis), and influenza (the flu). Meningococcal diseases are rare but are spread by sharing food and drinks or kissing. HPV is a sexually transmitted disease that can cause genital warts, and is associated with cervical cancer in women, and other types of cancers in both men and women.
The Tdap vaccine is a booster for the children’s DTaP vaccine, necessary for older children because the effectiveness of the first vaccine wears off over time. Doctors recommend that all children six months and older receive the flu vaccine every year because the flu virus changes each year.
It is Free!
We encourage you to follow the immunizations schedule into their adolescence, so they are protected during every stage of their life. Here at AltaMed, all the vaccinations the CDC recommends are available free of cost! We provide childhood, adolescent, and HPV immunizations for patients 0-17 years of age.