Protect your child from preventable diseases, get them vaccinated prior to starting school

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Protect your child from preventable diseases

By: Graham Tse, chief medical officer, MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach

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Every day, our bodies do the amazing work of fighting off preventable diseases. This helps build our immune system which is exposed to thousands of bacteria and viruses. While an adult’s immune system is experienced at fighting off common diseases, a child’s immune system is still developing, putting them at an increased risk of contracting common and preventable diseases. This increased risk compounds when they go back to school and are surrounded by other children.

To protect your child from getting sick during the school year, make sure your child receives their immunizations as soon as possible. Vaccines help prevent common diseases which can cause children to become seriously ill and help prevent diseases from being spread to other children and members of the community, especially those who are immunocompromised.

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Vaccines work by exposing your child to a dead or weakened version of a bacteria or virus. Once the body senses the weakened bacteria or virus, the immune system begins to create antibodies – a protein that fights off infection for that specific disease. Once your child develops these antibodies, their body is better prepared to protect against the real strain of that disease.

Although some vaccines may cause side effects like a low-grade fever, headache, or soreness at the injection site, these side effects are very minimal and do not cause serious harm to your child. If your child has any known allergies or serious reactions to any part of a certain vaccine, your doctor will ensure your child does not receive any more doses of that vaccine type.

Some parents believe natural immunity is better than receiving a vaccine, but that is not the case. Although getting infected can help build the immune system’s response, it can come with a higher risk of lifelong issues and serious consequences from certain diseases.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), everyone should get all of their recommended vaccines at the correct times. It is especially important for children and adolescents to get any catch-up doses of any missed vaccines or vaccines doses as soon as possible to help with their immunity. To make sure your child is immunized – meaning they are fully protected against a disease – it is important your child follows a schedule for their vaccinations.

A single dose of some vaccines only provide partial protection and must be administered more than once to maintain immunity. Getting vaccinated before school and staying on a schedule prevents outbreaks and community spread to help keep your child and their friends stay safe. Getting yearly influenza vaccinations is also extremely important

Before children go back to school, state law requires children to be vaccinated for a host of childhood diseases, such as measles, mumps, rubella, pertussis (whooping cough), polio, diphtheria, tetanus, hepatitis B and chickenpox. It’s okay to receive multiple vaccines at one time to make sure your child is fully immune to all these diseases – studies show receiving several vaccines at one time is safe.

Your doctor can help you put together a schedule for your child’s vaccinations. Call them for an immunization record form which helps you record and remember which vaccines your child has gotten and will need to get in the future.

Do your part in helping prevent the spread of disease and keep your child safe by getting them vaccinated today. To learn how you can schedule your child’s vaccines, visit millerchildrens.org.

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