Immunisation: Why Children Need Their Shots
If possible, as parents we would like to prevent any discomfort our child might experience and this may very well include the sniffles. However, what happens when the discomfort stems from our very own nonchalant attitude towards vaccines? Is it truly a must for every child? Let’s find out.
How does immunity work?
A child gets sick when his body is invaded by germs. For instance, when the measles virus enters the body it makes that child sick with measles. It is the job of the immune system to protect him from these germs.
Here’s what happens:
When germs gain entry into a child’s body, they start to reproduce. In response to this invasion, the immune system will begin making proteins called antibodies. Antibodies are supposed to destroy the culprit germs but by the time the body makes enough of it, most children will get sick first before these antibodies get to complete their job.
The antibodies remain in the child’s body, guarding him against future infections.
If the same germs were to gain entry again – even after many years – these antibodies will be ready this time. Only, now they can destroy the germs before they have a chance to make the child sick. This process is called immunity. It is why most people get diseases like measles or chickenpox only once, even though they might be exposed to them many times during their lifetime.
Although an effective system for disease prevention, the problem stems from having the child fall sick before developing immunity.
How do vaccines help?
If your child is vaccinated, it gives him the immunity required to fight off a disease before it has a chance to make him sick. Vaccines are made from the same germs that cause a disease. But the germs in vaccines are either killed or weakened so they won’t make the child sick.
Then the vaccines containing these weakened or killed germs are introduced into his body, usually via an injection. The immune system reacts to the vaccine the same as it would if it were being invaded by the disease – by making antibodies. The antibodies destroy the vaccine germs just as they would the disease germs. Then they stay in the body, providing immunity. If the child is exposed to the real disease, the antibodies will be there to protect.
Immunisations help your child’s immune system do its work. The child develops protection against future infections, the same as if he or she had been exposed to the natural disease. The good news is, with vaccines your child doesn’t have to get sick first to get that protection.
Reasons To Vaccinate Your Child
Immunisation can save your child’s life. Some diseases that once injured or killed thousands of children, have been eliminated completely and others are close to extinction– primarily due to safe and effective vaccines. Polio and smallpox are examples of the great impact that vaccines have had around the world.
Safe and effective
Vaccines are only given to children after a long and careful review by scientists, doctors, and healthcare professionals. Side effects and allergies following vaccination do exist, but they’re rare. The power a vaccine has to prevent a dangerous disease such as severe allergic reaction, are very rare. The disease-prevention benefits of getting vaccines are much greater than the possible side effects for almost all children
The National Immunisation Programme
The National Immunisation Programme in Malaysia advocates routine childhood immunisations for multiple infectious diseases. Vaccines against certain diseases are provided free by the government, so why not take advantage of this provision? You can have your child immunized at any Government clinic in your neighborhood.
Don’t ignore the optional vaccines!
The Ministry of Health takes care of many deadly diseases by providing free vaccinations. However, parents are highly encouraged to pay due attention to the optional vaccines which will also be offered by their children’s doctors and seriously consider these vaccines. The optional vaccines are Pneumococcal (2 months and above); Influenza (6 months and above); Rotavirus (6 weeks to 6 months); Hepatitis A (10 months and above) and Chickenpox (12 months and above)