From the time your child is born, vaccinations protect them from getting sick with potentially deadly illnesses. Diseases like measles and polio are no longer a concern in the United States as a result of decades of immunization.
Although many people believe vaccines are dangerous, they are actually safe for children—and any potential risks of getting vaccinated far outweigh the possibility of your child catching a disease that vaccines protect against.
So, how do vaccines work, and when should your child receive their first vaccination? In this article, we’re breaking down everything you need to know about vaccinations.
Why children need to get vaccinated
Immediately after a baby is born, the mother gives them a natural immunity to disease through the placenta right before birth. This offers some protection against germs that can lead to potentially dangerous diseases for the first few weeks of a baby’s life. However, this protection goes away within a few weeks, putting your child at risk of disease. Vaccines will help your child’s immune system fight off various viruses and bacteria that are trying to invade their body.
How vaccines work
Although it may seem counterintuitive, when your child is exposed to a small, safe amount of a weakened or dead virus or bacteria, it actually helps them fight off those particular germs when they’re exposed to them in the future. Even if your child does get sick after being vaccinated, they will get a milder form of the illness. If you are wanting to protect your child from infectious diseases, vaccines are one of the best, natural ways to do that.
At what age should children get vaccinated?
Every few years, there are new vaccines being developed and introduced. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend this immunization schedule for your child based on different ages. Here’s a look at some of the most common vaccinations and which diseases they guard against:
The DTaP vaccine: This vaccine, which is given throughout five different shots, helps protect your child against three different illnesses: diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (whooping cough).
The Hep B vaccine: Given to help prevent the hepatitis B virus (HBV), this vaccine is distributed through a series of three or four shots.
The Hib vaccine: Your child will receive this vaccine, which is given to help prevent Haemophilus influenzae type b, through three or four shots.
The IPV (inactivated poliovirus) vaccine: The IPV vaccine helps to prevent polio and is given in a series of four IPV shots.
The meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV4): When your child is between the ages of 11 and 12 years old, they will receive the MCV4 vaccine to protect against four different strains of bacterial meningitis.
The MMR vaccine: This 3-in-1 immunization helps protect against measles, mumps and rubella and is given in two different shots.
The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV):To help protect against a bacteria that’s responsible for ear infections, your child will receive the PCV vaccine in four doses, starting when they’re an infant.
The rotavirus vaccine (RV): This vaccine protects against two different types of rotavirus and will be given in either two or three shots, depending on your provider’s recommendation.
The varicella vaccine: Given to children one year of age or older in one dose, this vaccine helps to keep your child from developing chickenpox.
The HPV vaccine: This vaccine, which is given in a series of two shots at a minimum of six months apart, protects against the human papillomavirus. The human papillomavirus is a common virus that may result in cervical cancer in women and genital warts for both women and men.
Are there risks of getting vaccines?
It’s not uncommon to hear people express their concerns about their children getting vaccinated. In fact, many parents choose not to have their children receive their vaccines. So, should you be worried about the risks associated with getting vaccinated?
Today, vaccines are safer than they’ve ever been before. Of course, any type of medication includes a small risk of harm—specifically allergic reactions.
If children have a reaction to getting vaccinated, it typically involves soreness directly at the injection site as well as an increase in fussiness and a decrease in appetite. In more serious cases, your child may experience fever, fatigue and vomiting; however, these reactions are unlikely.
In very rare cases, high fever, seizures or allergic reactions can occur. Although extremely uncommon, if something like this occurs, one should seek medical attention immediately.
Most symptoms of vaccination can be handled at home using aspirin-free pain medication. However, if your child does have a serious reaction after getting their shot, you should contact your provider immediately.
Is autism linked to vaccination?
Many parents are concerned about a link between autism and getting vaccinated. This concern is specifically centered on the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR vaccine). Delay or refusal to have the MMR vaccine administered to your child could lead to the child contracting one of the illnesses and that could lead to further medical complications.
Currently, there is no evidence (scientific or medical) that shows vaccines cause autism. In fact, there have been at least 14 studies that prove there is no causal link. Should you have concerns about your child getting vaccinated, it’s important to talk to a medical professional about the potential risks and benefits.
If your child needs to get caught up on their vaccinations, consider taking them to CareNow Urgent Care. We have over a hundred locations throughout America, each staffed with qualified physicians who are ready to serve you.
Each of our clinics is also designed exclusively to meet the needs of children—from our sticker collection and clinic design to our specifically pediatric-trained staff.
We also offer a convenient Web Check-In® feature that will allow you to check-in from the comfort of your home so you don’t have to wait in the lobby during your visit.
Disclaimer: Patients’ health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions or deciding if medical advice is right for you.