August is National Immunization Awareness Month!
With COVID-19 being the most talked about topic of 2020, you’ve probably heard the word “vaccine” more this year than ever before. Which is why we’re taking this opportunity to shed light on the importance of immunization, and what vaccinations your child needs before heading back to school.
Immunizations are said to date back hundreds of years, but Edward Jenner earned the “founder of vaccinology” title in 1796 when he successfully used vaccinia virus, or cowpox, to treat a 13-year-old boy with smallpox. Because of his findings, the first smallpox vaccine was developed two years later in 1798. Smallpox was officially declared eradicated from the earth in December of 1979, proving the life-saving capabilities and fast-acting benefits of vaccination.
Today, the federal government recommends 14 vaccines for children ages 0-6, including preventatives for pertussis, diphtheria, rubella, mumps, tetanus, rubella, and influenza.
Modern Vaccination Guide
There are four main types of vaccines:
- Live-attenuated vaccines use a weakened form of the disease-causing germ to protect against things like measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), and more. The weakened germ helps the immune system create a defense against it so if it’s encountered later, it can fight the germ again.
- Killed (inactivated) viruses are used in vaccines like IPV (polio). By killing the virus, it cannot replicate itself or spread, but it remains intact so the immune system can recognize it if it returns.
- Toxoid vaccines use a toxin made by the disease-causing germ, so the immune system targets the toxin instead of the entire germ. Vaccines for tetanus and diphtheria are constructed this way. Booster shots are commonly associated with toxoid vaccines.
- Conjugate vaccines use certain parts of the germ, like its sugar, protein, or casing. Targeting specific pieces of the germ generates a strong immune response to protect against future infection. These vaccines fight against hepatitis B, shingles, whooping cough, and more.
We understand the health of your child’s immune system is a top priority right now because of COVID-19, so staying on top of immunization is essential this back-to-school season. Making sure your kids are up to date on vaccinations for their age range doesn’t just keep them safe, but also their teachers, peers, and family members. Due to certain health issues, like having a compromised immune system, some people can’t receive vaccines. In these cases, people must rely on their communities to get vaccinated and protect them from exposure to certain diseases.
According to the Arizona Immunization Handbook and Arizona Administrative Code R9-6-702, “any child attending school, preschool, or child care in Arizona is required by law to be fully immunized at the ages and intervals consistent with the rules for their age (preschool/child care), or grade (K-12th grades) or have proof of immunity against the following diseases:”
- Measles (rubeola)
- Rubella (German measles)
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Poliomyelitis (Polio)
- Haemophilus influenza
- Meningococcal disease
Like any medication, vaccines come with a slight chance of risk. Almost all immunizations are delivered by needle into the bloodstream, so mild reactions such as soreness around the injection site or a slight fever can occur. More serious reactions are rare but possible and are often caused by a previous allergy. In the event that your child experiences difficulty breathing, unexplained swelling or bleeding, dizziness, or other serious symptoms, contact your pediatrician and take your child to an emergency care facility immediately.
From annual flu shots to childhood immunity boosters, vaccines are one of modern medicine’s most effective tools against diseases. Phoenix ER & Medical Hospital encourages our community to be diligent about keeping up with immunizations and speaking with your child’s pediatrician about any questions or concerns you may have.
Disclaimer: As a service to our readers, Phoenix ER & Medical Hospital and Nutex Health state no content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinicians.
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