Five Things You Should Know About Immunizations
- Immunizations create immunity to certain diseases. They use small amounts of a killed or weakened microorganism that causes the disease. The immune system reacts to the vaccine as it would a real infection. If your child contracts a real infection later in life, he will be able to fight it off quickly.
- Your child needs different vaccines at different times. From birth to adulthood, you will need to keep your child on a vaccine schedule. Certain vaccinations need multiple visits, including those for hepatitis A and human papillomavirus. View the American Academy of Pediatrics' recommended vaccination schedule.
- Vaccinations are not dangerous. The microorganisms in the vaccines have all been killed or weakened, so they are very unlikely to cause serious illness. The only pain your child may feel is soreness around the shot area or slight fever. The risks of vaccinations are small compared with the health risks associated with the diseases they'll prevent.
- Bacteria and viruses that cause old diseases still exist. Even though you may have never heard of a child contracting small pox, your child is still at risk of developing it. Vaccinations have significantly decreased the prevalence of many diseases in the United States, but the diseases can still be brought to our country by visitors.
- Your baby needs immunizations while you're breastfeeding. Breastfeeding gives some protection against many diseases, but your baby still needs vaccinations. Breastfed babies respond better to immunizations and are better protected from diseases than babies who are not breastfed.