Immunizations: Questions Parents Ask
What are immunizations?
Immunizations help keep you and your child from getting a disease. They contain medicine that causes the body to make antibodies. These antibodies can then recognize and fight the disease if you or your child is later exposed to it.
Immunizations are also called vaccines or vaccinations.
Why should my child get immunized?
Vaccines are the best way we have to prevent infectious diseases. A successful vaccine program depends on everyone getting vaccinated.
When should my child be immunized?
Ask your doctor what shots your child should get. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) keeps a list of shots needed for each age group.
Why do I have to use the government schedule? Can't I use my own schedule?
The schedule recommended by experts is designed to work best with a child's immune system at certain ages and at certain times. The schedule is set up so that your child gets the best protection possible at the earliest age possible from the fewest shots possible.
Experts review the schedules every year based on the best research available and change the schedules as needed.
A different schedule may not provide protection for your child. If shots are spread out or skipped, a child may get the disease during the delay.
Why does my child need so many doses to protect against one disease?
Your child gets as many shots as needed to give him or her full protection from a disease. This may be one shot only, or it may be several doses.
More than one dose may be needed because immunity may have to build up over time. You want the best combination of immediate and future protection for your child. This means that your child needs a certain amount of vaccine spaced apart at different ages. This builds the best protection.
Don't babies get natural protection from the mother?
During the last few weeks of pregnancy, mothers give their babies some protection against disease. But it is only for diseases that the mother is protected against. The protection the baby gets does not last long.
Haven't we gotten rid of most diseases children are immunized for?
Vaccinations in the United States have led to a sharp drop in diseases. Better living conditions have also helped, but they aren't enough to protect you from disease.
Remember that a vaccine gives your child protection from the disease. A vaccine does not get rid of the disease. The disease still exists, and if fewer children get immunized for a disease, the disease could come back.
And some diseases no longer found in the U.S., such as polio, still exist in other countries. People who travel or move to the U.S. can bring these diseases into the country. So it's still very important to have your child immunized.
Is it okay to skip a shot when my child is sick?
On very rare occasions, your doctor may suggest waiting to have your child immunized. For example, you may need to wait when your child has:
Talk to your doctor if you have any concerns about having your child immunized.
eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise
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