Recently vaccines have come under the radar for various reasons. From apprehensions about its constituents to reemergence in diseases on the verge of eradication, parents may still be flocking to get their children’s shots done in time, but with less fervor. Here we address some of these concerns and cover a few bases regarding immunization of your children.

How does vaccination work?

A vaccination introduces a weakened or dead microorganism into the body, which then stimulates the immune system to produce antibiotics against it. Like a drill, these dosages do not by themselves cause the disease, but provides ‘memory’ to the body’s defense system, which can then prepare a full blown attack in the event of an actual infection. While some children may have certain reactions or temporary side effects, the benefits of getting your child vaccinated far outweigh those risks.

Why is vaccination so important?

Vaccinations are important not just for your child, but the entire community. Dozens of deadly and debilitating diseases have been pushed to the brinks of extinction thanks to immunization programs. These not only help reduce the risk in vaccinated children, but also decreases the exposure for children too young to be vaccinated or who have other conditions affecting their immune systems. This ‘herd immunity’ makes an entire community less susceptible than one in which vaccination isn’t practiced. Also, several diseases like Measles, Mumps and Diphtheria that were believed to be under control have re-emerged after negligence in getting children vaccinated.

What are vaccines made of?

To ensure the safety and effectiveness of the administered doses, vaccines are carefully packaged with supporting substances. Broadly, vaccines contain antigens, i.e. a part of or whole pathogens that are deactivated, which are recognized by the immune system. Very small amounts of other ingredients such as adjuvants, stabilizers, antibiotics, and preservatives are also present that increase their shelf-life, prevent contamination and stabilizes their potency.

What side effects can occur?

Most adverse effects are minor and disappear within a few days. Low-grade fever, mild rash, or swelling at the injection site can all be brought down by simple measures. In contrast, deciding not to vaccinate can have permanent and severe damages. In rare cases, your child may develop a serious allergic reaction, in which case they would require immediate medical attention. It is always best to observe your children for any such signs for a few days and visit your pediatrician in case of doubt.

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