How to Understand Childhood Immunization

Although babies who are breast-fed tend to have fewer health problems in the first year of life than babies who are bottle-fed, all children are susceptible to disease. Fortunately, immunization can protect against the major child­hood diseases that can be fatal, including polio, diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough. Medical specialists claim that a hilly implemented program of immunizations could eliminate these childhood hazards completely.

Modern techniques now mean that childhood immuniza­tions are less complicated. The vaccines providing immuniza­tion against diphtheria, whooping cough, and tetanus are com­bined into a triple vaccine (DPT); this is administered as an injection at the ages of two, four, and six months (that is, three times). Infants are now given the polio vaccine in the form of drops in the mouth, usually when they receive the DPT. And the vaccines against measles, mumps, and rubella (German measles) are combined into one injection (MMR), administered at the age of twelve to fifteen months. The last stage in the preschool immunization program is between the ages of three and five years, when a child receives booster vaccines against diphtheria, tetanus, and polio in order to give added protection for starting school. There is also a vaccine (Hib) that offers pro­tection against meningitis, and one for hepatitis B.

Serious side effects to vaccines are rare, while minor reac­tions (such as temporary irritability) are common. However, the vaccine for whooping cough has come under particular criti­cism in recent years because some parents have claimed it has caused brain damage. Evidence supporting these claims is not clear-cut, but it has shaken parental confidence in the vaccine’s safety. Yet whooping cough remains a very dangerous disease that can itself result in brain damage, and most doctors agree this is a greater risk than possible serious side effects from the immunization itself.

Certainly, if you have fears about side effects, discuss them with your pediatrician before the immunization; the pediatri­cian is fully aware of your baby’s health record and will be able to provide you with reassurance. There are some medical rea­sons for delaying immunization, or for cancelling it altogether: for example, if your baby is unwell, if he has ever had any convulsions or a severe allergic reaction, or if he has had a bad reac­tion to previous immunizations. Some children are allergic to eggs. Because the serum for rubella is based on an egg protein, albumin, do not introduce eggs into your toddler’s diet until after he receives his German measles inoculation.

Filed Under: Lifestyle & Personality


About the Author: Alan Kennon lives a very happy life with two kids and a lovely wife. He likes to share his life time experiences with others about how they can improve their lifestyle and personality.

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