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healthy children | VACCINATIONS

Childhood vaccines:

why they are necessary by Barbara L. Bittner

Part of your role as a parent is to protect your children from harm. One of the easiest ways to do that is to

make sure their vaccinations are up-to-date. Vaccinations enable your child to fight off diseases that could otherwise lead to serious health problems. There are several different types of vaccines, so it’s important to

learn everything you can about them and the diseases they prevent.

Vaccine basics A vaccine is a medicine that helps prevent a disease. Vaccines help the body produce ant ibodies, which protect against the disease. Vaccines not only help keep your own child healthy, they help all chi ldren by prevent ing the spread of ser ious childhood diseases.

Vaccine safety Vaccines are general ly quite safe. The protect ion they provide far outweighs the very small risk of serious problems. Because of vaccines, many serious childhood diseases are rare or nonexistent today. Talk with your family doctor if you have any questions.

Side effects Some vaccines may cause mild side effects such as fever, soreness or a lump under the skin where the shot was given, but these are only temporary. Your family doctor will talk with you about the side effects of certain vaccines.

Types of vaccines:

 Flu: The flu vaccine is a shot. Your child can’t get the flu from the vaccine because it contains dead flu viruses. It’s given at the beginning of flu season, usually in October or November. Because flu viruses change from year to year, it may be important for your child to get the shot each year. The flu vaccine is safe for children six months of age and older. If your child is between six months and 23 months of age, it’s especially important for him or her to get the flu vaccine each year. Children in this age group are more likely to have complications from the flu. You may hear about a nasal spray flu vaccine that uses a weakened live virus. This type can only be used for children older than five.

 DTaP: The DTaP is a series of five shots that contain three vaccines. It protects against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis. Diphtheria is a disease that attacks the throat and heart. It can lead

to heart failure and death. Tetanus is an infection caused by bacteria and can cause “lockjaw.” It can also lead to severe muscle spasms and death. Pertussis (also called “whooping cough”) causes severe coughing that makes it hard to breathe, eat and drink. It can lead to pneumonia, convulsions, brain damage and even death. Having your child immunized when he or she is young (which means making sure he or she gets all five of the DTaP shots) protects your child against these diseases for about 10 years. After this time your child will need the Td booster shot. The Td vaccine is used as a booster to the DTaP vaccine and helps prevent tetanus and diphtheria. It’s given when your child is 11-years-old or older and every 10 years after that.

 IPV: The IPV (inactivated poliovirus) vaccine helps prevent polio. It’s given as a series of four shots. It has replaced the older polio vaccine, which was administered orally. Polio causes muscle pain and can cause paralysis

midwest health+wellness issue 1, 2014 41

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