When children are born, they naturally inherit certain antibodies from their mother through the placenta. These antibodies will protect the child from certain diseases. After birth, breastfeeding provides additional antibodies through breast milk. However, these antibodies are only temporary. Vaccines (i.e., immunizations) are one of the best ways to protect your child from many dangerous diseases.
Benefits of Vaccinating
Immunization boosts your child’s immunity to specific diseases by using tiny amounts of killed or weakened versions of the disease-causing microorganism. Regardless of whether the disease-causing microorganism is a bacteria or virus, the vaccine causes the child’s immune system to react as if there was a real infection. The child’s immune system then remembers the organism. If the organism ever enters your child’s body at a later date, the immune system will remember how to fight it.
Different Types of Vaccines
A few of the most common types of vaccines include:
- Weakened or attenuated live viruses are used in certain vaccines, such as in the measles, mumps, rubella vaccine (MMR).
- Toxoid vaccines have an inactivated toxin created by the bacterium. For instance, tetanus and diphtheria, found in the DTaP combination vaccine, are toxoid vaccines.
- Inactivated or killed bacteria or viruses are commonly used in certain immunizations, such as the polio vaccine (IPV).
- Conjugate vaccines include certain parts of bacteria combined with proteins. An example of a conjugate vaccine is the Hib, which has virtually eliminated what used to be the most common cause of childhood meningitis in this country.
Instead of getting a single vaccine, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests your child get combination vaccines whenever they are appropriate and available. This minimizes the number of shots your child receives.
Vaccine and Immunization Concerns
The medical staff at Stepping Stone Pediatrics firmly believe that the routine preschool vaccinations that have been standard for decades are safe and effective. In fact, Dr. Kim considers vaccination to be one of the three greatest medical advances in history (alongside anesthesia and antibiotics). However, we recognize that many parents have serious concerns about vaccine safety or even vaccine effectiveness. Conflicting and highly technical information from various sources makes it a confusing and anxiety-inducing decision for many.
It’s easy to feel lost trying to interpret scientific jargon. Most parents do not feel comfortable, for example, interpreting the differences between a “case-control” study and a “cohort” study. Our job is to earn your trust so you will feel comfortable with our advice, and the way to earn that trust is through communication. At Stepping Stone Pediatrics, we want parents to feel comfortable asking questions so they can get answers well before having to make decisions regarding vaccinations. We firmly believe that the more informed parents are, the more likely it is that they will agree that vaccination is the best option for their child. Experience has shown this to be true.
Recommended Vaccines and Immunizations
You can see a typical schedule for Well Child visits and what vaccines are commonly given at each visit here. This schedule conforms to recommendations by the CDC.