If you didn’t know, August is National Immunization Awareness Month. With the national debate about immunizations always going back and forth, we here at Albemarle Square Family Health would like to highlight the facts about immunizations, and how they can help us throughout our lives. In no way are we trying to sway anyone into getting immunizations for themselves or their family if they elect with their own free will to abstain from getting immunized. All we wish to do is present the facts that decades of science and research has provided us. So, without further adieu, here are the facts you need to know about immunizations.
The basis of immunization is to provide us with protection against deadly or harmful diseases. Decades of scientific research and development have given humans the best chance at survival, and when you’re immunized at a young age, the chance for your survival skyrockets. Diseases like Polio, a virus that paralyzed thousands in the early 1900s, and Measles, a viral infection that can be fatal for children under five years old, have nearly been eradicated thanks to early vaccinations. Life expectancy since the early 1900s when many of the diseases we can now prevent with proper immunizations has nearly doubled because of modern advancements in medicine and health studies.
Doctors around the world suggest that children should be immunized before the age of two, especially if they will be doing a lot of traveling between countries or will be attending preschool or daycare services. Immunizations should happen at such a young age because the immune systems of infants and young children haven’t yet had time to develop properly. Immunizations have helped billions of people worldwide stop the transfer of preventable diseases, and in only extremely rare cases does a serious reaction occur. If you’d like more information about immunizations and when your children should have them, contact your local doctor or preferred healthcare provider to learn more.
Educates Your Body
When you get sick, your body is being attacked by certain bacteria or viruses. In the case of a common cold, your body can usually fight off the attacking bacteria within a few days. White blood cells are the main defenders of our bodies. They intercept and destroy nearly all foreign invaders that may be harmful to our health. Viruses are much more difficult for white blood cells to destroy as they aren’t affected by antibodies, y-shaped proteins that our body uses to destroy harmful antigens, and take over healthy cells.
Immunizations help your body plan for both a bacterial and viral infection before they can even happen. Vaccines do this by introducing a very small amount of the disease into your system–an amount so small that your body can easily defend and overtake the germs. In some cases, depending on the type of vaccine and disease these antibodies are fighting, the germs will be dead, giving the disease no chance at all to spread once it enters your body. Once the white blood cells in your body destroy these germs, they keep a record of how to destroy them inside your cells. This gives you the best defense possible against harmful, debilitating, and possibly deadly diseases.
When you introduce any kind of medication to your body, whether it’s a vaccine or simple ibuprofen, there will probably be side effects. A large percentage of the time, however, side effects from vaccines are incredibly manageable and go away within a day or two of vaccination. These minor side effects can include soreness of the immunization area, headaches, stomachaches, or a low grade fever. There is no cause for alarm if these symptoms occur; it’s just the body’s natural reaction to the vaccine. If these symptoms last for longer than three days or worsen, then it’s time to contact your local physician.
In extremely rare cases, serious health issues can arise after immunizations are received. These very rare cases often occur due to unforeseen allergic reactions and can be reversed with the help of a medical professional. If you know that you or your child are allergic to certain medications or medical grade materials, make sure to tell your doctor before you schedule a vaccination.
It is worth saying again though that the risk of severe health issues stemming from a vaccination are extremely rare. In most cases no or very mild side effects, like soreness, occur and go away within a day or two of injection. The disease the vaccine is fighting is more problematic than the vaccine itself, and getting your child vaccinated early and regularly will give them a much better chance at having a long, healthy life.
From everyone at Albemarle Square Family Health Center, we hope this blog has helped you understand vaccines better. If you’re looking for a family doctor in Charlottesville, Albemarle Family Health is here for you. Learn more about our philosophy, get to know our amazing doctors and staff, or contact us today to set up an appointment or to answer any questions.