As kids go back to school and a new flu season looms ahead, many parents might be wondering about which vaccines they and their children should get. In recent years, there have been news reports about harsh flu seasons and new outbreaks of dangerous diseases, like Measles, which can be very concerning to many parents. Grand Parkway Emergency Center, in honor of National Immunization Month, is here to shed some light on vaccines and why they are so important for every member of the family.
How Vaccines Work
Vaccines are modern methods for gaining immunity against bacteria and viruses. Illnesses which used to infect many people, like Rubella, Polio, and Tetanus, are now diseases that we can protect ourselves and our families from thanks to vaccines. The most famous example is Smallpox, which was once a very deadly disease with no treatment or cure and is now considered eradicated from the earth thanks to vaccinations.
Vaccines work by giving someone safe, controlled exposure to a disease through injections of dead disease cells or pieces of the disease cells which can be identified by your body’s immune system. When your immune system can identify a disease, it can better fight the illness and can shield you from getting sick with it. This is a vaccination immunity, which can be much safer than natural immunities.
Who Needs Vaccines?
Vaccines are a valuable part of everyone’s health, from infants to the elderly. Many parents first become familiar with vaccines through their child’s booster shots and immunization schedules. Pediatricians around the country have recommended vaccination timelines for children and can talk to parents about which vaccines are important for their children to get and when.
But sometimes parents question whether vaccines are the right choice at the right time. There are recent reports that circulate conflicting news about immunizations. Some people claim that vaccines are the only way to keep a child safe, others claim that vaccines can weaken the immune system or affect a baby’s neurological processing. With so many different claims circulating, it can be confusing for new parents to find the best choices for their child’s health.
Despite various claims, there are no studies which show vaccines are harmful to a child’s or an adult’s health. This makes vaccinations very important for infants and children, since it will keep them safe from harmful bacteria and viruses that could seriously threaten their health.
Some parents worry that using vaccines will weaken their child’s ability to gain natural immunities through exposure. While exposure can sometimes be a good way to let your child’s immune system get strong on its own, this is not the case for every bacteria and virus. Common colds, for example, are small viruses that your child will naturally encounter, and by exposure to them, your child’s immune system can adapt and become stronger from encountering them.
This is not the case with serious illnesses, though. Even the strongest immune systems cannot fight severe diseases like Polio. This is why vaccines are so valuable, they give our immune systems the defenses to face severe infections safely.
Who Shouldn’t Get Vaccines?
Vaccinations are an important staple in public health, but not everyone can get them. People with medicinal allergies, immune disorders, or certain genetic factors might not be able to get vaccines safely. Patients with these conditions are rare, but their immune systems become dependent on what is called ‘group’ or ‘herd’ immunity.
Group immunity is the collective immunity that a community holds when everyone within it is vaccinated against a disease. Since diseases can only survive when they have a host to infect, when everyone in an area is impervious to the disease’s infection, the disease cannot exist there. Those people who cannot receive vaccines rely on this group immunity to keep them shielded from diseases, since they are much safer from dangerous illnesses when everyone around them cannot contract or spread the infection.
For those who cannot get vaccines, it is even more important that those around them are immunized as early as possible.
From childhood immunity boosters to annual flu shots, vaccines are one of modern medicine’s most effective tools against diseases. Many schools will require students to be up-to-date with their vaccinations, and many doctors will recommend vaccinations for children and babies as well. While vaccines are very important, if any parent has concerns or questions about whether their child can be vaccinated safely, they should talk with a pediatrician about vaccination schedules to learn more. Grand Parkway Emergency Center is a division of OakBend Medical Center and encourages everyone to talk with their doctor about vaccines.
This blog is written by Maggie Berardo, staff member at Nutex Health.
Nutex Health, Inc. supports you and your family’s health. Come visit Grand Parkway Emergency Center, A Department of OakBend Medical Center or any one of our concierge-level freestanding facilities for the emergency care you deserve, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.