Parents sometimes wonder why their children need vaccines for diseases that are rare or virtually eliminated. It is only because of widespread childhood vaccinations that some diseases are rare. However, they still occur. If immunization rates dropped, outbreaks of highly contagious diseases like measles and mumps would quickly develop.
Vaccines have eliminated diseases in the United States that are still common in other parts of the world, diseases such as polio and rubella. Travelers can carry those diseases back home. Finally, some diseases are still quite common, so children need the protection of vaccines. This includes protection from chickenpox, pertussis, hepatitis B, flu, and pneumococcus.
Vaccines protect children by alerting the immune system to the danger of a disease. Each vaccine is essentially a weak version of the bacteria or virus that causes the disease. When a small, safe amount is introduced into the body, it triggers the immune system to make antibodies to the substance. From then on, the body is prepared to fight the substance and prevent sickness every time it’s exposed to the disease.
After children get a disease like measles, their bodies create antibodies, so they're protected in the future. However, that protection comes at the high cost of suffering from a distressing illness with the additive risks of severe complications.
Just one case of the measles increases the risk of a widespread outbreak. Measles is so contagious that when one child has the illness, 90% of the people near that person who are not immune can become infected. It’s far better to prevent this kind of problem with a vaccination.
Beginning from birth and throughout their first two years, children should receive vaccines that protect them from:
Vaccinations don’t stop at the age of two, but they continue through the teen years and adulthood. Your doctor at Naples Pediatrics can tell you which vaccines are needed as your child ages.
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