How Important Are Childhood Vaccinations?

The discovery of safe vaccines to prevent childhood diseases has been one of the most powerful medical tools developed to save the lives of babies, children and adults. Most of these vaccines are scheduled to pick up when the naturally inherited immunizations from the mother start decreasing during the first year. It may seem like a heavy schedule to parents of babies and toddlers, but the protection they are gaining can save them from discomfort, pain, irreparable damage and even death. It is estimated that, globally, more than 1.4 million children under the age of 5 die each year from preventable diseases. Most of these deaths occur in countries that do not have a rigorous vaccination program.

While vaccinations are constantly being monitored and improved, there is no question that there is a miniscule risk factor involved when live, inactive or dead disease-carrying antigens are injected into any human being. The plan is that your body will produce its own antibodies to destroy these perceived threats and that memory cells will be developed to return to fight should the real disease ever show up in later years. As you age, your defenses may weaken and boosters may be be required to maintain a vigilant, disease-fighting immune system.

Diseases that have had high mortality rates in the recent past and still do in some parts of the world today are now controlled in the United States by an active vaccination program, which is supported by family doctors and organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians. Not only is the individual child offered protection against destructive and contagious bacteria and viruses, but also the community at large is also guarded, especially its most vulnerable members.

Babies under 12 months of age, the very elderly, those who cannot be vaccinated for other medical reasons, those who do not respond to standard vaccinations and those whose parents choose not to have them vaccinated are all safer when the majority around them pose no threat of infecting. Epidemics are slowed down if not eliminated in regions where childhood vaccinations are available and accepted by the majority of parents.

Most preventable diseases are triggered either by viruses or bacteria. Diptheria, hib, and pertussis (whooping cough) are the result of an invasion of harmful bacteria. Viruses produce diseases such as measles, mumps, and polio. Meningitis can be caused by either.

Fortunately, vaccinations given singly or in combination, usually in more than one dose, can protect against these diseases. Other easily preventable diseases include hepatitis, A, B and C (liver diseases); rotavirus (severe diarrhea); tetanus; influenza, and varicella (chicken pox) and pneumococcal disease ("strep").

Newer vaccinations have been or are in the development process for HIV-AIDS, malaria, TB and parasitic diseases such as hookworm. The HPV vaccination has now been approved for boys 9-18 for preventing some form of genital warts. It was originally introduced for girls age 11-12 for extra cervical cancer protection. Other vaccinations may soon be available for ear, respiratory and diarrheal infections.

While risks exist with virtually any medical treatment, the number of children who have been protected and saved through proper vaccination far surpasses the rare few who have suffered harmful side effects. Our world is a much safer place today because of the discovery and acceptance of vaccination procedures for preventing childhood diseases.

by Ty Magnum
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/6153592

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