Important Reasons To Vaccinate Your Child
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Important Reasons To Vaccinate Your Child
Immunization helps save anywhere from 2 to 3 million lives a year – and that’s just the potentially fatal cases. Countless others are spared the scourge of vaccine-preventable infections and their sometimes horrific side effects, including disability and impairment. Children who are not vaccinated are more vulnerable to infections and may develop a more virulent form of a disease. The current immunization schedule in the United States can protect your child against no fewer than 14 serious diseases.
Vaccinations were considered unavoidable and necessary at one point in time. Now, we’re seeing a growing number of parents who believe their children are better off not getting vaccinated. Many are concerned about side effects and the burden of multiple vaccines overloading a child’s immune system; others debate their overall effectiveness. However, an overwhelming majority of the medical community and healthcare authorities around the world urge everyone to vaccinate their children and follow immunization schedules. If not, you could run the risk of some unwanted consequences that could even prove life-threatening. Here’s a look at some compelling reasons to vaccinate your children.
Cut The Risk Of Catching An Illness
The most obvious reason for you to vaccinate your child is to offer them protection against a particular disease. In effect, this also protects them from the debilitating side effects of such diseases, like hearing loss, disability, or even brain damage.1
Fight Disease Better
A vaccination contains a killed or weakened form of the disease-causing microbe or its surface proteins or toxins. This stimulates your immune system into destroying the foreign body. The idea is that once this happens, your body will remember this immune system response if and when it’s exposed to the microorganism in the future.2 So, even if you’re vaccinated and you do catch an infection, you’re less likely to develop a full-blown form of the illness. On the other hand, those who aren’t vaccinated are prone to extremely virulent forms of the disease that can have far worse consequences – and may even be life-threatening.3
Protect Your Community
Vaccinating your own child won’t just protect them, but your whole family and community as well. Simply put, if you aren’t vaccinated and catch an infection, you could then pass it on to another unvaccinated person, who could pass it on to another, and so on until several people are affected. The sick, the very young, or those with compromised immune systems are especially vulnerable.
The more people who are vaccinated in a community, the less likely that group will be infected. This is known as “herd immunity” and can help protect those who cannot be vaccinated, have missed the window of opportunity to be vaccinated, or are more at risk of catching the disease. This was proven after conjugate vaccines for Haemophilus and pneumococcal were introduced, leading to a significant decline in infection as well as nasal carriage of the disease.
Epidemics have been controlled or delayed in the case of childhood diseases like measles, polio, mumps, pertussis, chickenpox, and rubella by ensuring a certain critical threshold of individuals in the community are vaccinated against these infections. However, because herd immunity isn’t the same as our own biological immunity to an infection, your child isn’t completely protected by this. Herd immunity can certainly reduce chances of catching an infection, but it doesn’t fully protect them if they come in contact with a carrier.4
Diseases Still Exist In Many Parts Of The World
While the use of vaccinations has given us the impression that several diseases have been completely eradicated, that isn’t necessarily true. Vaccinations have been able to greatly control and minimize the spread of these diseases, but the microbes that cause them still exist. Measles may seem like a long-gone problem, but, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention point out, there were still 350,000 cases of it reported worldwide in 2011. The majority of the cases in America were linked to travel or immigration from regions where measles are still prevalent. The reason so few Americans have measles is because the majority of the population is vaccinated against it.
But with global travel continuing to increase, the risk for a measles outbreak in communities where vaccinations are being avoided increases as well.5 Over time, if more people stop vaccinating, you could well see a resurgence of an illness we thought had been conquered decades ago.
Vaccinating Your Child Doesn’t Have To Be Expensive
Most vaccinations are covered by insurance. Low-income families in the United States can also take advantage of the Vaccines for Children program, which foots the bill for childhood vaccinations.6
But Treating A Vaccine-Preventable Disease Is Expensive
Think about the bigger picture: it costs far less to vaccinate your child than to bear the costs of treating the illness. Some illnesses may cause prolonged disabilities that could keep your child out of school and you away from work. The financial losses and costs associated with this, along with any costly medical bills, can be an enormous burden.7
Side Effects Are Rare
Most vaccines do not contain the live virus and those that do have a very weakened form of it. The likelihood you will get the disease after being vaccinated is extremely low. Much research and review go into each vaccine before it’s recommended for use. Yes, there could be a little tenderness or redness, and even a little pain at the site where the vaccine is injected, but nothing that will cause too much discomfort. Severe allergic reactions are extremely rare, which is why healthcare professionals, scientists, and doctors feel the benefits far outweigh any potential risk.8
It Could Save Your Child’s Life!
Lastly, but most importantly, not vaccinating your child puts them at a risk of death from a vaccine-preventable illness. Take measles, for example – an illness that’s largely controlled in the United States. It took 134,200 lives globally in 2015.9 The risk is very scarily real. The question you need to ask yourself is whether that’s a risk worth taking.
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||Importance of Vaccines. The Immunization Action Coalition.|
|2.||↑||Vaccines. World Health Organization.|
|3.||↑||Why vaccinate your kids?. National Health Service.|
|4.||↑||Fine, Paul, Ken Eames, and David L. Heymann. ““Herd immunity”: a rough guide.” Clinical infectious diseases 52, no. 7 (2011): 911-916.|
|5.||↑||What Would Happen If We Stopped Vaccinations?. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.|
|6.||↑||VFC Program. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.|
|7, 8.||↑||Five Important Reasons to Vaccinate Your Child. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.|
|9.||↑||Immunization. World Health Organization.|
Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.