Today, parents are faced with a number of worries and challenges when it comes to raising children. However, one of the easiest ways to protect children from infectious diseases is through the use of vaccines. Immunizing babies, toddlers, and young children with childhood vaccinations protects them from a number of infectious diseases that used to plague society. But it’s not just children that need vaccinations. The elderly, people traveling abroad, and even healthy adults should all make sure that their vaccines are up to date.
A Brief Historical Recount
While historians believe that societies of ancient China and India inoculated citizens in the 17th century, the first major breakthrough in vaccinations occurred in 1798 by Edward Jenner. A doctor in Berkeley, Jenner transmitted portions of a cowpox vesicle into the arm of a boy. After two months, Jenner gave the boy a dose of smallpox, but he never contracted the disease. This sparked Jenner’s curiosity and led him to coin the term, vaccination. Since then, the medical field has made significant progress in vaccination children and adults.
What is a Vaccine?
Vaccines are inoculations that hold dead or weakened forms of certain antigens. These antigens are what cause infectious diseases. When the antigens are released into the human body, the immune system is triggered and it creates antibodies to fight off the disease. However, in a vaccine, the disease cannot manifest itself, as the antigens are dead or weakened. These antibodies then protect us if we are later exposed to the disease.
When Are They Administered?
There are many vaccines available today, all of which protect us from dangerous diseases. Each vaccine has it’s own timetable of when it should be administered. Parents who have questions about their child’s vaccination schedule should talk to their doctors. Many babies are vaccinated at just two months old and many children can finish their inoculations by the time they are six years old.
The DTap vaccine protects against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis. Children receive this vaccine through five different shots, with each one containing the antigens for each disease. However, it is important to receive booster shots in the form of the Td vaccine every ten years. This protects our bodies from contracting any of the diseases at a later date.
The MMR vaccine protects against measles, mumps, and rubella. Before the creation of this vaccine, measles was a prevalent disease among young children. It causes rash, fever, cough, watering eyes, runny nose, and in some cases can lead to pneumonia, ear infections, and brain swelling.
Mumps causes severe swelling of the salivary glands, as well as headache, fever, and in some instances meningitis. Known as the German measles, Rubella causes the glands of the neck to swell in conjunction with fever and headache.
The IPV vaccine, or inactivated poliovirus, protects children from contracting polio. This once prevalent disease causes paralysis and muscular pain in the arms and legs. The IPV vaccine is given over a course of four shots and has become a replacement for the oral polio vaccination.
Most common in infants and toddlers, rotavirus leads to diarrhea and sometimes nausea and vomiting. Due to the risk of dehydration from the virus, this is an important vaccine to include in a young child’s health care plan. It is given between birth and eight-months, as early vaccination is key in prevention.
A variety of other vaccinations for children are available today. Parents of newborn babies or those expecting children should talk to their doctors to discuss their child’s vaccination schedule to start the line of defense against infectious diseases.
Please note: Although PhysicianOne Urgent Care offers a wide range of immunizations, due to Connecticut State Law, we are only able to vaccinate adults 18 and older.