Childhood Immunizations

Do you know what your baby is getting when you bring him for childhood immunization injections? What are these immunizations exactly and what are they for? Are there any possible side effects? Know the facts first.

Do you know what your baby is getting when you bring him for immunization injections? What are these immunizations exactly and what are they for? Are there any possible side effects? Know the facts first.

Immunizations, or vaccines, can help prevent many diseases in both children and adults. Immunizations work by helping the body produce antibodies against the disease. These antibodies work to fight infections. Diseases like polio, measles and pertussis (whooping cough) once killed or crippled infants. Now immunizations can prevent them from happening.

Recommendations about when to have your child immunized change occassionally. Some shots are given earlier to children where diseases are more common. Your child's pediatrician will give you a card keeping track of what immunizations have been given and which ones are due when. Your local health unit will give the immuniations for a nominal fee or even free, if you cannot afford them, and also give you a card to keep track of the immunizations. Here is a breakdown of the immunizations your child will receive.



Polio: The Polio vaccine is now given in liquid form. The oral polio vaccine helps prevent poliomyelitis, or polio. Polio is caused by a virus that damages the nerves and causes crippling or paralysis. This disease is rare in the U.S. now. Your child will receive it four times.

DTP (Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis): Works to protect your child against three infections. Diphtheria, an infection causing sore throat and fever, can be fatal. Tetanus or lockjaw, bacterial infection lives in soil, enters through a wound, causes severe painful muscle spasms and can be fatal. Pertussis or whooping cough is a bacterial infection causing coughing and can be fatal and is highly contagious. All of these are uncommon in the U.S. and can be prevented with the immunization. After getting the immunization, the site can be swollen and red and your child may have a fever for a day or two. Occassionally the DTP vaccine can cause a seizure.

MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella): This immunization is two injections. Measles is a highly contagious viral infection. Symptoms are fever, rash, and sore throat. Can lead to complications like pneumonia and encephalitis. MMR is given at 15 months, 18 months and five years old. Mumps: classic swollen cheeks, cold symptoms, fever, caused by a virus. Complications are it can affect the sex glands in men and women, rarely leading to sterility. Other complication includes encephalitis. Rubella or German measles: symptoms rash, fever, aches. A threat to pregnant women.

Side effects of MMR vaccine include rash or fever beginning one or two weeks after the vaccine, lasting only a few days. Rare side effects or swollen glands and joint aches.

Flu vaccine or Hib vaccine: protects against getting the flu. Side effects: fever and irritability.

Hepatitis B: Three injections, given at birth one or two months and four months. You can get it as an adult if you didnt get it as an infant.

Chickenpox: as an infant or as an adult who has never had the vaccine or the chickenpox.

If a child or person's immune system is weak, it may not be a good idea for them to get immunized. Talk to your doctor first. The mumps and measles vaccines shouldn't be given to kids who are seriously allergic to eggs. If your child has a serious reaction to a vaccine, consult your doctor before giving them the next series.

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