National Infant Immunization Week, April 26 – May 3, highlights the benefits of immunizations and how they’ve helped to improved the health of children age two years and younger. This year marks the 20th anniversary of NIIW!
Each day, nearly 12,000 babies are born in the United States who will need to be immunized before age two against 14 vaccine-preventable diseases. Immunizations help prevent the spread of disease and protect infants and toddlers against dangerous complications.
Through immunization, we can now protect infants and children from 14 vaccine-preventable diseases before age two. In the 1950s, nearly every child developed measles, and unfortunately, some even died from this serious disease. Today, few physicians just out of medical school will ever see a case of measles during their careers.
Pediatrics Northwest, PS, strongly supports vaccinations for all children. We believe the benefit far outweighs the minimal risk. We encourage you to contact your child’s provider if you have questions or concerns.
How Vaccines Prevent Diseases
The diseases that vaccines prevent can be dangerous, or even deadly. Vaccines reduce the risk of infection by working with the body’s natural defenses to help it safely develop immunity to disease.
When germs, such as bacteria or viruses, invade the body, they attack and multiply. This invasion is called an infection, and the infection is what causes illness. The immune system then has to fight the infection. Once it fights off the infection, the body is left with a supply of cells that help recognize and fight that disease in the future.
Vaccines help develop immunity by imitating an infection, but this “imitation” infection does not cause illness. It does, however, cause the immune system to develop the same response as it does to a real infection so the body can recognize and fight the vaccine-preventable disease in the future. Sometimes, after getting a vaccine, the imitation infection can cause minor symptoms, such as fever. Such minor symptoms are normal and should be expected as the body builds immunity.