As a family medicine expert who specializes in pediatric care at Comprehensive Care Clinic in Spring, Texas, Tyneza Mitchell, FNP, knows that preventing infectious disease from occurring in the first place is always better than having to treat it after it develops.
Routine childhood immunizations against vaccine-preventable illnesses have the power to do just that: protect your child’s health — and possibly save their life — from the bacteria, viruses, and parasites that can wreak havoc on their body and compromise their well-being.
Read on as we discuss four invaluable benefits of routine childhood vaccinations.
By introducing a small amount of dead or weakened viral or bacterial material into the body, vaccines safely expose your child’s developing immune system to the harmless, deactivated cells of a specific contagion. This allows their immune system the opportunity to figure out how to defend against the potential invader — without having to fight off an active infection.
Routine childhood vaccines like the MMR series (measles, mumps, rubella) and the DTaP series (diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis), as well as seasonal vaccinations like the flu shot and COVID-19 vaccine, help your child’s immune system develop the tools it needs to effectively fight an infection when they’re exposed to the real thing.
Vaccines are essentially a kind of low-risk training course for the immune system that helps young children build a significantly stronger immune response without exposing them to the health risks of serious, crippling, or potentially fatal diseases.
To understand this concept more fully, it helps to consider the common cold. The body builds stronger immunity against infectious invaders through exposure. This is why children typically catch colds more often than adults, who’ve had more years of immunity-building exposure to the common cold virus.
Unfortunately, the natural exposure approach is far riskier with serious contagious illnesses, such as measles or whooping cough. When your child builds immunity to such diseases naturally, they do so with a high risk of severe illness, serious complications, hospitalization, and death. This can be especially true for younger children who don’t have well-developed immune systems.
Immunization against these serious vaccine-preventable diseases, on the other hand, poses virtually no risk as it helps your child build strong immunity against dangerous pathogens.
Thanks to decades of strong national immunization programs, you probably aren’t too worried about your child contracting certain serious diseases. In fact, this invaluable preventive health care tool has eradicated one deadly contagious disease (smallpox) and taken another (polio) to the verge of eradication. It has also brought many other contagious illnesses under control.
But apart from smallpox, vaccine-preventable illnesses haven’t disappeared, and previously controlled diseases have started making a resurgence in some communities.
In 2022, New York declared a state of emergency after the polio virus was detected in the wastewater of several of its counties. Measle cases are also on the rise in communities across the country as fewer parents opt to vaccinate against the disease, often citing “no need to do so” because “no one gets the measles” these days.
Simply put, the viruses and bacteria that cause vaccine-preventable illnesses are still here, and they can be readily passed to those who aren’t vaccinated. Even if such illnesses aren’t common in your community, regional and global travel makes it easy for them to spread.
When you keep your child up to date with their recommended vaccination schedule, you’re not just protecting their health — you’re stopping a potential path of transmission that protects the health of others, too, from members of your extended family to classmates, colleagues, and anyone else in the community your family interacts with.
Simply put, when most people in a community are immunized against a highly contagious, vaccine-preventable disease, it creates a beneficial effect called “herd immunity.” This effect is especially helpful for those who can’t get fully vaccinated themselves, including newborns and people who are immunocompromised because of cancer treatment or an autoimmune disorder.
Ready to get your child up to date on their immunizations? We can help. Call uas at Comprehensive Care Clinic in Spring, Texas, today, or click online to schedule an appointment any time.