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Vaccines are a hot topic among parents. Some parents believe that their child should be immunized on time, every time and do what they are supposed to, no questions asked. They believe there are vaccines that you should not miss for your children. Other parents vehemently decline vaccinations and believe that shots can trigger things like Autism. Then, there are the rest of us who fall somewhere in the middle.
We’re not doctors but we do believe, and it’s been proven, that kids need immunizations to protect them and everyone around them from contracting these illnesses that might not seem like a big deal now (because most of us have been getting vaccinated for our entire lives) but used to be fatal. We do our research and then we take our kids to get their vaccinations.
But what’s the point, you ask? Sure, Babies are born with protection against some diseases because antibodies were passed through the placenta to the baby from their mothers. After they’re born, some of us breastfeed to give the babies continued benefits of more antibodies in the breast milk. But the protection is temporary.
Immunizations are the way we create immunity to some diseases. We get shots of small amounts of a dead or weakened microorganism that causes the disease. The shots stimulate our immune system to react and fight the infection so if we ever catch that disease, our body knows what to do to keep us healthy. So it would stand to reason that not getting the vaccinations leaves us vulnerable to all of these diseases.
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The varicella vaccine protects against chickenpox, a common and very contagious childhood viral illness. When we were children there was no vaccine. If one kid on the block caught it and we all caught it. The varicella vaccine is given by injection when kids are between 12 and 15 months old. They receive a booster shot at 4 to 6 years old.
Kids who are older than 6 but younger than 13 who have not had chickenpox also may receive the vaccine, with the two doses given at least 3 months apart. Kids 13 years or older who have not had either chickenpox or the vaccine need two vaccine doses at least 1 month apart.
The chickenpox vaccine prevents severe illness in almost all kids who are immunized. It's up to 85% effective in preventing mild illness. Vaccinated kids who do get chickenpox generally have a mild case.
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Diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTaP) vaccine protect your child against:
Diphtheria: a very serious infection of the throat that can block the airway and cause potentially dangerous breathing problems.
Tetanus (lockjaw): a nerve disease that can happen, caused by toxin-producing bacteria contaminating a wound.
Pertussis (whooping cough): a respiratory illness with cold-like symptoms that lead to severe coughing. Serious complications can affect children under 1-year-old, and those younger than 6 months old are especially at risk. Adults with a cough that won’t quit might have pertussis and pass it to vulnerable infants without even realizing they are sick. In case you’re thinking its rare for an adult to catch pertussis, think again. We’ve had it.
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A vaccine called Tdap (the booster shot) should be given at ages 11 to 12. Td (tetanus and diphtheria) boosters are recommended every 10 years.
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The hepatitis A virus (HAV) causes fever, nausea, vomiting, and jaundice, and can lead to community-wide epidemics. Daycare centers are a common site of Hepatitis A outbreaks.
HAV Immunization Schedule
The HepA vaccine is recommended for children 12–23 months old, followed by a second dose 6–18 months later.
The HAV vaccine also is recommended for older children and adults who are at high risk for the disease. This will include people who live in, travel to, or adopt children from locations with high rates of HAV; people with clotting disorders; and people with chronic liver disease. The HepA vaccination also can be given to anyone who wants immunity to the disease.
The HAV vaccine is also very useful for staff of childcare facilities or schools where they may be at risk of exposure to keep them protected.
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Hepatitis B virus affects the liver. Those who are infected with the HepB virus can become lifelong carriers of the virus and can develop long-term problems, such as cirrhosis (liver disease) or cancer of the liver.
Hepatitis B vaccine (HepB) usually is given as a series of three injections:
If the mother of a newborn carries the hepatitis B virus in her blood, her baby must receive the HepB vaccine within 12 hours after birth, along with another shot — hepatitis B immune globulin (HBIG) — to immediately provide protection against the virus. If the newborn's mother shows no evidence of the virus in her blood, then the baby can receive the HepB vaccine within 24 hours after birth.
Haemophilus influenza type b bacteria (Hib) were the leading cause of meningitis in children younger than 5 years old until the Hib vaccine became available.
The Hib vaccine is given by injection at ages:
Kids ages 15 months or older who are receiving the vaccine for the first time only need one dose.
Children ages 12 months to almost 5 years old may need additional doses if their immune systems are weakened due to things like asplenia (when the spleen is not working properly), HIV infection, chemotherapy or radiation treatment, or a stem cell transplant.
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Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a highly contagious sexually transmitted disease (STD). It can cause genital warts and changes in the cervix that can result in cervical cancer. It can also lead to cancer of the penis, anus and throat. Some research even suggests it may be linked to cardiovascular disease in women.
The vaccine is recommended for girls and boys 11 or 12 years old, as well as for older kids who are unvaccinated. If needed, kids can get the vaccine starting at age 9.
The vaccine is given as a series of shots:
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Influenza which is what most of us call "the flu" is a highly contagious viral infection of the respiratory tract that leaves you feeling like you’ve been run over by a semi-truck.
When Should People Get the Flu Vaccine?
Flu season runs from October to May. So get a flu vaccine as early in the season as your doctor has the vaccine in stock. This gives your body a chance to build up immunity to the flu. Getting a flu vaccine later in the season is still better than not getting the vaccine at all.
Who Should Get the Flu Vaccine?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older. It’s especially important that those in higher-risk groups get vaccinated to avoid health problems as a result of the flu.
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The MMR vaccine protects your sweet babies against measles, mumps, and rubella (German measles).
MMR vaccinations are given by injection in two doses:
Children traveling outside the United States can get the vaccine as early as 6 months of age. These children should still get the recommended routine doses at 12–15 months and 4–6 years of age (if they are staying in an area where disease risk is high, they should get the first dose at 12 months and the second at least 4 weeks later).
During a mumps outbreak, children older than 1 year of age who are in close contact with infected people should get another dose of the vaccine, no matter how many doses they have already had.
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The meningococcal vaccines protect against meningococcal disease, a serious infection that can lead to bacterial meningitis and other serious infections. We can’t stress how serious this disease is. We had a student who went home sick on Friday and was dead by Sunday night from meningitis.
Two kinds of meningococcal vaccines are currently given to kids in the United States:
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Vaccination with meningococcal conjugate vaccine is recommended:
Children who receive their first dose between the ages of 13–15 should get a booster dose between the ages of 16–18. Teens who get their first dose after they’re 16 won't need a booster dose.
The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13) and the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23) protect against pneumococcal infections caused by bacteria.
The bacteria spreads through person-to-person contact and can cause serious infections like pneumonia, blood infections, and bacterial meningitis.
PCV13 protects against 13 types of pneumococcal bacteria (which cause the most common pneumococcal infections in kids). PPSV23 protects against 23 types. These vaccines not only prevent infections in children who are immunized, but also help stop the infections from spreading to others.
PCV13 immunizations are given to all infants as a series of four injections:
Polio is a viral infection that can cause permanent paralysis
The inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) is usually given at ages 2 months, 4 months, 6–18 months, and 4–6 years.
Though the oral poliovirus vaccine (OPV) is still used in many parts of the world, it has not been used in the United States since 2000. Using Inactive Polio Vaccine eliminates the very small risk of developing polio after receiving the live oral polio vaccine. Better to be safe than sorry.
The IPV vaccine is recommended because it offers protection against polio, which can cause paralysis and death.
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Rotavirus is a common virus that causes vomiting and diarrhea, especially in infants and young children. Childcare centers are a common site of outbreaks because of the close proximity of small children.
The vaccine, a liquid given by mouth, is recommended at ages 2 and 4 months, and again at 6 months, depending on the brand of vaccine used.
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Rotavirus can cause severe diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration and, for some kids, hospitalization and even death. Besides protecting the child exposed to the virus, vaccination against rotavirus can help stop spread in the community and prevent the possibility of an outbreak.
Some parents may be hesitant to get their children vaccinated because they're afraid that the children could have serious reactions or may get the very sickness that the vaccine was supposed to prevent. Though some children run a low temp and have a slight reaction to vaccinations, they're unlikely to contract any serious illness. In the end, the risks associated with vaccinations are slight compared with the health risks of the diseases they're supposed to prevent.