Importance of Childhood Immunization
Childhood Immunization or vaccinations as they are also called is one of the best ways to protect your children from many serious diseases.
Some parents are afraid that vaccines can be dangerous and think that it might be better to let their children gain immunity by getting the disease.
This is a serious mistake!
While it would be wrong to say that vaccines are completely free of side effects, they are much safer than the diseases they protect against.
The vaccines that are available in Canada have undergone rigorous testing to ensure their safety and effectiveness.
However, as with anything in life, there is always a risk. Here are some cautions parents should be aware of:
If your child has ever had an allergic reaction to a vaccine, talk with your doctor before the child gets another shot. Allergic reactions include breathing problems and severe swelling of the skin or mouth.
There may be some redness, swelling, or pain at the place where the needle entered the skin.
Some children may develop a fever after getting a vaccination. Your doctor or pharmacist can advise you on how to relieve these symptoms.
If your child is very sick when it is time for a vaccination, ask your doctor if it would be better to reschedule the shot.
Diseases that Can Be Prevented
Not all diseases can be prevented, but vaccines can provide protection against the following diseases.
Diphtheria is an infection that can damage the heart or paralyze the breathing muscles and cause death.
Tetanus (lockjaw) causes muscles to become tight and go into spasms, which can severely affect breathing and cause death.
Pertussis (whooping cough) can cause such severe coughing spells that an infected baby or child may not be able to eat, drink, or breathe. The infection can also cause brain damage and death.
Poliomyelitis (polio) is a viral infection that attacks the spinal cord and brain and may cause life-long physical disability, paralysis, or death.
Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib) is a bacterial infection that can cause blood poisoning or bacterial meningitis, an infection of the brain and spinal cord coverings that can lead to mental retardation, deafness, and death.
Measles (rubeola) is a serious illness that causes high fever and skin rash. It can lead to serious complications that can be fatal.
German measles (rubella) causes a rash and a fever. Healthy children generally recover completely, but if a pregnant woman catches the infection, it can cause serious birth defects in her unborn baby. Vaccinating children will help prevent the spread of this disease to pregnant women.
Mumps is a viral infection that settles in the saliva glands, causing fever, weakness, and facial swelling. A healthy young child will usually recover from mumps, but it can cause serious complications such as deafness and swollen testicles in older children.
Chickenpox causes itchy, weeping blisters to form on the skin. Children generally recover from mild cases of chickenpox, but the disease may lead to serious complications. An adult who is not immune to chickenpox can easily catch the disease from an infected child, and one in five adults who gets chickenpox develops pneumonia, which can be deadly.
Hepatitis B can be transmitted from an infected mother to her baby. Some children become infected when they have their ears pierced with a contaminated needle. It can also be picked up from a contaminated household object, such as using a toothbrush that was used by an infected family member. Once a person is infected, the hepatitis B virus attacks the liver and my cause liver disease or liver cancer.
In addition to immunizing children against the diseases described above, the Canadian Pediatric Society and Health Canada recommend that children receive the following vaccines:
Pneumococcal vaccine to protect against infections caused by a bacteria known as Streptococcus pneumoniae, which causes meningitis (a brain infection), pneumonia, and ear infections.
Meningococcal vaccine to protect against diseases caused by the meningococcus bacteria, which is responsible for meningitis and septicemia (a serious blood infection).
Flu shot to prevent influenza. This is especially important in children who have a high risk of developing serious complications from the flu. Children are considered to be at high risk if they have heart or lung problems, a chronic condition such as diabetes, or if they have been treated for long periods of time with ASA.
Timing Is Important
It is important for children to receive vaccines at the proper times. For the sake of convenience, some vaccinations are combined into a single shot. Check with your local health clinic or hospital to find out when you are expected to get these immunizations.
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