Americans are now experiencing record lows for measles, hepatitis B, diphtheria, mumps, and many other preventable childhood diseases through vaccines, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Dutifully following the list of vaccinations recommended by the CDC not only protects your children from serious illness, it also protects the other children and adults around them. Beginning at birth with a Hepatitis B vaccination, a schedule of shots is advised that continues regularly until the child is six years old, some requiring boosters after that.
How Vaccines Work
The only natural way to build up immunity to disease is to actually contract the illness and allow the immune system to create the antibodies. Unfortunately, for many diseases this could lead to serious consequences or fatality. Vaccines are a safe method of creating an immunity during childhood, without risking a full blown illness. The child is minimally exposed to the disease – enough for his immune system to learn how to fight back, but not enough to actually create the sickness inside him. Some vaccines may have minor short-term side effects such as muscle soreness or a slight fever.
Vaccines often work best at a certain age, so following the recommendations of the CDC and your doctor is crucial. If your child has fallen behind, it's not too late. Talk to your doctor about the most effective way to catch up.
The CDC lists the following childhood diseases that have an effective vaccine for prevention:
- Hepatitis A and B
- Haemophilus influenzae type b
- Whooping cough (pertussis)
- Pneumococcal disease
- Chicken pox (varicella)
You may not see many of these illnesses anymore, thanks to childhood vaccinations. It may seem tempting to skip these recommended shots, assuming that exposure won't be common, but these viruses and conditions still spread among the unvaccinated, especially when leaving the country or even enjoying the company of international travelers. If childhood vaccination numbers decrease, instances of these diseases will increase in America.
The Hillsborough County Health Department provides vaccinations for both children and adults at a variety of medical facilities. Find a location that's close to you.