August 13, 2012
It is back-to-school time again. It is time to buy notebooks, backpacks, pencils, and pens. But more important, it is time to make sure your child's immunizations are up-to-date.
Immunizations are special medicines that help protect you or your child from diseases. They also help reduce the spread of disease to other people. Most immunizations are given as shots. Immunizations are also sometimes called vaccines, or vaccinations.
Here's how immunizations work. When you get an immunization, you actually get a tiny amount of the disease. This amount is not enough to give your child the actual disease. But it is enough to cause your child's immune system to make antibodies. Antibodies are things in our bodies that fight and help protect us from diseases.
Sometimes a vaccine does not completely prevent the disease. But a vaccine will make the disease much less serious if you do get it. Some immunizations are given only one time. Others require several doses over time.
Immunizations protect your child from dangerous diseases. They help reduce the spread of disease to other people. Immunizations also save you money. Getting immunized costs less than getting treated for the diseases. And vaccines have very few serious side effects for children.
You need to make sure your child is up-to-date with his or her vaccines. They are often needed to get into school or day care. And they may be needed if your family travels to another country. Talk with your doctor months before you leave, to see if you need any shots.
Sometimes, it is confusing to figure out when your child needs to be immunized. It is also difficult to figure out what kinds of immunizations your child needs. Immunization schedules can also be different from state to state.
But there are two ways to make sure your child gets the right immunizations, and also to make sure they get their immunizations at the right time. The first way is simple. You should ask your doctor. He or she will know what your child needs and when.
There is another way to find out about your child's immunization schedule. It is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The United States agency has easy-to-follow charts for immunizations. You can find that website at http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/index.html. Once you get to the website, find the box that READS, "For Everyone." In the box you'll find links for immunization schedule for the following:
Once you find the right age of your children, click on the link. You'll find charts that easily explain your child's immunization schedule. There are also charts that list the diseases the immunizations fight. Everything on the CDC website is available in both English and Spanish.
For most vaccines, it is never too late to catch up on missed shots. Children who missed their first shots at 2 months of age can start later. Children who have had some of their shots sometimes fall behind schedule.
But don't worry, children can catch up without having to start over. Maybe you have a child who was not immunized when they were an infant. Or your child has fallen behind schedule. Simply contact your doctor or the health department clinic. They will help you get your child up-to-date on their immunizations.