Vaccinations are products that stimulate an individual’s immune system to produce antibodies to a specific disease, which results in the person being protected from that particular disease. Newborn infants are temporarily immune to many diseases because of the antibodies that were passed onto them by the mother during the birthing process. Eventually, this type of immunity disappears during the first year of life. This is one of the key factors that makes vaccinations an important aspect in maintaining the health and well-being of the pediatric population.
Vaccinations allow the pediatric population to develop immunity to diseases such as measles, whooping cough, chickenpox and polio without actually contracting the disease. When an unvaccinated child is exposed to a disease, his or her body may not be strong enough to fight off the illness caused by the disease. This usually results in serious injury or death.
Polio, for example, once caused great fear in the United States because it caused paralysis or death, especially in the pediatric population. The development of the polio vaccine not only eliminated the disease from the United States, but it became a safe and effective way to extend the life expectancy of the pediatric population.
Pediatric vaccinations are usually administered through an injection into the leg muscle using a needle and syringe, but they can also be administered by mouth or sprayed into the nose. Vaccines administered to children may cause minimal pain, tenderness and redness at the injection site. These symptoms are minimal in comparison to the pain, discomfort, trauma and life-long complications associated with contracting a vaccine-preventable disease.
Serious side effects, such as severe allergic reaction after vaccine administration, are very rare in the pediatric population. Overall, the disease prevention benefits children receive from getting vaccines outweigh the risks and possible side effects they may experience post vaccination.
Once a child becomes ill with a vaccine-preventable disease, they must be kept at home and not allowed to attend daycare and school to avoid infecting other children. While providing care for a sick child, many parents may experience a financial burden due to time lost from work, medical bills, possible long-term disability care and premature death.
Childhood vaccinations against these diseases are a good investment when compared to the expenses associated with caring for a sick child. The costs of vaccinations are usually covered by insurance, or the child may be eligible to receive vaccines through the Vaccines for Children Program (VFC). The program is federally funded. and it provides vaccines at no cost to children who may not be vaccinated because of the inability to pay.
Pediatric vaccinations not only protect the individual receiving the vaccine but the community as a whole because it limits the spread of vaccine-preventable diseases to the family, infants who are too young to receive some vaccines, and immunocompromised individuals.
In conclusion, vaccinations are not only a good economical decision for parents, but they ensure the youngest members of society are adequately cared for and protected.
For more information about the Vaccines for Children Program and pediatric vaccinations, visit http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines or call Frederiksted Health Care Inc. at 772-0260.