Benefits of Immunization

Immunization works by introducing small amounts of a pathogen into the body in order to trigger an immune system response. The response produces antibodies that help to minimize the effects of illness or prevents a person from future infection. By receiving vaccines against certain diseases, immunity is built up so that the body is prepared to fight any subsequent infections.

What Are the Benefits of Immunization?

Disease prevention is the primary goal of public health as it is significantly easier, and more cost-effective, to prevent an illness than it is to treat one. Immunizations aim to achieve exactly that by protecting individuals from disease and preventing the disease from spreading to others.
Use of vaccines over the years has prevented epidemics of once common illnesses, like whooping cough, mumps, and measles, from becoming public health emergencies. For other diseases, like smallpox and polio, immunizations have led to a near eradication of the illnesses.

Immunizations That Children Should Receive

Since most day cares or schools require proof of immunization in order to enroll, it is critical that children are kept current on their vaccines. Children benefit from vaccination because it protects them against diseases that could lead to serious health issues. Children between the ages of 0-6 are recommended to receive immunizations against:

* Hepatitis A
* Hepatitis B
* Rotavirus
* Pertussis (whooping cough), tetanus, and diptheria
* Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib)
* Pneumococcal
* Polio
* Influenza
* Measles, mumps, and rubella (MRA)
* Chickenpox (varicella)
* Meningococcal (for some at-risk patients)

Historically, each of these diseases posed serious risks to children and claimed thousands of lives. Today, the rate of infection for majority of these diseases are at historical lows because of immunization.
While it is important that children are up to date on immunizations and stick to the recommended schedule, it is possible to “catch up” if a dose is missed. For certain diseases, such as influenza, additional booster shots will be needed periodically throughout life to maintain immunity.

Side Effects of Immunization

Although modern vaccines are safe, like any medication, there is the potential for side effects. Generally, these side effects are mild, short-lived, and resolve within a few days following administration of the vaccine. Common immunization reactions include:
* Redness or soreness in the injection site
* Mild fever

Rarely, a high fever (over 104° F) can develop after receiving a vaccine. While not harmful to children, this can be uncomfortable. Severe allergic reactions have also been documented in children after receiving vaccines. Typically, this occurs shortly after receiving the vaccine and doctors’ offices are able to manage such situations. Parents that suspect their child may have an allergy to a vaccine, it should be communicated with the doctor.

Are Immunizations Effective?

Although they do not always work, vaccines are a very effective method for preventing diseases. Based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the bulk of recommended immunizations are 90-100% effective. While it is not fully understood why some children do not gain immunity from a vaccine, vaccines are still recommended to prevent the spread of disease to those how have not yet been vaccinated.

Immunization vs. Vaccination