The Pediatric Center on Immunizations for Children: What Parents Need to Know
Let us start by saying, immunizations for children work and have helped protect children from deadly diseases for more than 50 years. At The Pediatric Center we understand the importance of vaccinations for children and we want to help parents and caregivers understand the benefits as well. Over the past decade or so, misunderstandings and false information has resulted in many parents second-guessing their doctor’s recommendations for vaccinations. The facts are vaccinations have reduced the number of vaccine preventable diseases and infections by more than 90%. Fears of serious side effects are unwarranted, as they are no more common than serious side effects resulting from other types of medication. Even with the outstanding safety and effectiveness of immunizations for children, many parents still question their safeness due to misinformation.
It is important to gather information from trusted and educated sources, such as your child’s doctor, on matters as important as your child’s health. The following information provided by The Pediatric Center is meant to help parents better understand the purpose of vaccinations and to clear any confusion parents and caregivers may have regarding immunizations for children.
Vaccines Your Child Will Need
Vaccines absolutely prevent diseases and they do their job well! To keep your child healthy they will need all of the following immunizations:
- Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B vaccine protects against serious liver diseases.
- Rotavirus vaccine helps to protect against the most common cause of vomiting and diarrhea in children. (The most common cause of hospitalization for young children is due to vomiting and diarrhea.)
- DTaP and Tdap vaccines protect from serious diseases including diphtheria, tetanus (lockjaw) and pertussis (whooping cough).
- Hib vaccination protects against Haemophilus influenzae, a major source of spinal meningitis.
- Pneumococcal vaccine immunizes against bacterial meningitis and blood infections.
- Polio vaccination protects your child from a crippling viral disease that can cause paralysis.
- Influenza vaccines help protect against the flu and is recommended for all people over 6 months of age.
- MMR vaccination helps protect against a number of diseases including measles, mumps, and rubella.
- Varicella vaccine protects children from chickenpox and its associated complication including flesh-eating strep, staph toxic-shock, and inflammation of the brain (encephalitis).
- Meningococcal vaccine helps to protect children against serious bacterial disease that can affect the blood, brain and spinal cord.
- HPV (Human papillomavirus) vaccination prevents viral infections in teens and adults that cause cancer of the mouth, throat, cervix and genitals.
Why Vaccinate? Do They Really Work?
While reading the above list of vaccinations you may wonder why your child needs all of them. Some of the diseases are not common anymore. It is important to understand that they are no longer as common because of vaccinations, however these diseases still exist. If your child is not vaccinated they are unprotected against the disease should they come in contact with it.
They work! Take the Hib vaccine for example. In the 1980s before the Hib vaccine was developed there were about 20,000 cases of Hib disease every year in the United States, today there are fewer than 100 cases a year.
Although not all the diseases children are vaccinated for are as serious as others, children still should be vaccinated as they could suffer serious complications from the disease if not vaccinated. Chickenpox, for example resulted in 4 million cases, 11,000 hospitalizations, and 100 deaths each year before the vaccination was licensed in 1995.
When to Get Your Child Vaccinated
It is important that children get most of their immunizations during their first two years of life. Many of the diseases that vaccines protect children from are most severe in the very young. Most newborns will receive their first shot before they even leave the hospital. Other shots will be administered at various well checks with their pediatrician.
Children that have not been immunized or have fallen behind on their shots are at risk of contracting these preventable diseases as well as spreading them to other children or small babies that aren’t old enough to be vaccinated. Keep track of your child’s vaccines and talk to your child’s doctor about what vaccines they will need to stay up to date.
Side Effects: What Parents Should Know
Side effects of immunizations are mild if present at all. They may include tenderness at the site of the shot, fussiness or a slight fever. Serious side effects are rare; however if your child has any of the following after a vaccination, call your doctor immediately:
- Fever above 103° F (39.4° C) and is younger than three months
- Hives or black-and-blue spots in areas not at the injection site
Setting the Record Straight: Autism, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and Other Myths
Immunizations for children are safe and effective. Period.
Claims that vaccines cause autism are completely unfounded. Many research studies have been done to address this issue and there is no scientific link between the two. Confusion may have started with autism typically being diagnosed around 18 months to 30 months, about the same time as the MMR vaccine is administered. However, evidence suggests that autism starts before a baby is even born.
The same can be said for any association with SIDS and vaccines. There is no link between the two and careful scientific studies have confirmed that immunizations for children do not cause SIDS.
Another myth about vaccinations is a term called “hot lots”, meaning a batch of vaccinations that is more likely to cause reactions in children. There is no such thing! The FDA tests each and every vaccination batch and monitors how they are made, and every vaccine lot is carefully tested for safety before release.
The Importance Immunizations for Children
At The Pediatric Center we care for your children and their well being. Shots can cause distress, as they are temporarily painful, however, as discussed previously the benefits far outweigh the short discomfort.
Don’t hesitate to call us at The Pediatric Center if you would like to learn more about immunizations for children.