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The Sting in Vaccinations

April 7, 2014
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Watching your child go through pain is terrible. And when you know it’s coming, as with shots, it’s even worst.

My son recently went for his 5-year-old check-up and I was more nervous than he was. For some reason I chose not to remind him of the two shots he’d have to get at the tail end of the appointment. (Four vaccinations coupled into two arm shots.) As we neared the end of our doctor’s check up, my 5-year-old in his innocent little voice, “Do I have to get some shots?” He was prepared for them. I was not.

A short walk down to the Immunization Clinic, two pricks, two circular Band-aids and a Spiderman sticker and we were finished. He didn’t even cry.

The Basics of Vaccines

It’s a pain knowing your child will be hurt, even if it is for the greater good of your child and the children around your child. Vaccines stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies, exactly like it would if you were exposed to the disease itself. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, once a child receives a vaccination, the child develops an immunity to the disease without having to get the disease beforehand. What makes vaccines so powerful is that they prevent diseases instead of other medicines, which cure the disease after a child is already suffering from it.

According to Dr. Jason Clark, a Kaiser Permanente pediatrician since 2000, vaccinations are given to the very young because they are the most susceptible to severe and life-threatening diseases.

An infant’s immune system is prepared to respond to the vaccinations because that same system is colonized with countless types of bacteria within days of birth, he said.

“They come from a completely sterile womb. Then they pass through the birth canal that is loaded with millions if not billions of bacteria,” Clark said.

Putting a Community at risk

Clark said he tries to convince the families he treats to follow the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines. By not doing it, a child or a community could be at risk.

“Not vaccinating your child puts your family and the population as a whole at risk of severe illness and even death,” Clark said.

The Academy of Pediatrics and the CDC recommend children have vaccinations for 16 infections diseases.  Among the vaccine preventable diseases are measles, mumps rubella or German Measles, varicella or Chicken Pox, hepatitis B, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis or Whooping Cough, Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib), polio, influenza or flu and pneumococcal disease. Since the mid-1940s in the United States, combination vaccines have been used. Combination vaccines combine several vaccinations into one shot, for instance the DTaP shot is the vaccination for diptheria, tetanus and pertussis, or the MMR, which stands for measles, mumps and rubella.

Vaccination Rates at 95 percent

This year, according to Dawn Richardson, director of advocacy for the National Vaccine Information Center, the vaccination rate among children with “core” vaccinations such as polio, DTaP and MMR is 95 percent, one of the highest in the world.

And although U.S. families are allowed to file with a public school an exemption for state approved medical, religious, or conscientious/philosophical reasons, this year, according to the Aug. 4, 2013 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report published by the CDC, only 1.8 percent of children entering kindergarten filed an exemption for any reason.

Age guidelines for Vaccinations

The specific timeline for each vaccination, according to the CDC, is broken up into two groups:

Birth to age 6:

Age 7 to preteen: