News about the recent measles arrival in Alaska and outbreaks in other parts of the United States remind us of the importance of immunizations and vaccinations. Measles is contagious and can be deadly. However, it is preventable with the MMR vaccine.
What is the difference between vaccination and immunization?
A vaccination is an injection you are given with the vaccine itself. Immunization is what the body does after it receives the injection. The vaccine stimulates the body’s immune system so it can recognize the disease and protect you from future infection (i.e. you become immune to the infection). “Vaccination” and “immunization” are often used interchangeably but their meanings are not exactly the same.
Getting immunized can protect our bodies from life-threatening viral infections such as hepatitis, HPV, measles, and so much more. Millions of people are safe today from unnecessary deaths from 16 dangerous infectious diseases, because of the availability of vaccines.
When do we need vaccines?
At birth, a pediatrician can provide parents with a list of vaccines and the timeframe for administering each of them. Babies indeed get antibodies from their mothers, but, these antibodies wear off after a certain period. For this reason, regular shots are required from 0-6 years of age. Newborns are susceptible to millions of pathogens, which are mostly tolerated by their immune system while others are deadly. Children need long term protection that comes from immunization. Therefore, making sure that he or she get the vaccines needed, by following the CDC’s recommended immunization schedule.
Do vaccines last a lifetime?
No. Antibodies wear off over time, especially when your immune system is weak. Therefore, health care providers recommend you get another set of vaccines called “booster shots” in adulthood, to retain the integrity of your immune system.
What happens if a person is hypersensitive to vaccines?
Hypersensitivity to vaccines is rare. In some cases, people may be too old, too young or have vulnerable immune systems, however, one should never lose hope. You can still be protected from pathogens even if your body cannot tolerate vaccines; this is called herd immunity.
What is Herd Immunity?
Herd immunity is indirect protection for people with hypersensitivity to immunization. It can happen naturally when a considerable percentage of the population in an area is vaccinated, creating a measure of protection to individuals who are not immunized.
As new parents, you may have a million questions about vaccinations and the safety of your child. Sunshine Community Health Center has well-trained staff, who can answer your queries and provide you assurance to keep your little angels safe.
The National Immunization Awareness month encourages and reminds everyone to get their shots regularly, avoid the spread of disease, and protect those individuals who cannot get immunized. Bee Wise, Immunize.