Immunization Is An Easy, Powerful Way To Protect Your Child’s Health
Protecting your children is a big part of your job as a parent. Doing what you can to prevent your children from getting sick is one of the ways you protect them.
You can protect your children from several major illnesses through immunization.
What Is Immunity?
When you get sick, your body makes antibodies – infection-fighting protein molecules in blood or in fluids made by the body. Antibodies fight the illness and help you recover. Then, the antibodies stay in your body, preventing you from getting the same illness again. This is called immunity.
Newborn babies get some antibodies from their mothers, but this immunity wears off during the first year.
This is why immunization is so important.
Immunization – What Is It?
Immunization is when a vaccine is given to a person to provide immunity against certain kinds of diseases. A vaccine contains weak or ‘dead’ versions of the bacteria or viruses that cause a particular disease or group of diseases. When the vaccine is given (usually by needle injection, but sometimes in liquid form taken orally), the body thinks it is being attacked by a disease. Then it makes the antibodies that fight that disease.
If your child is immunized against a disease, she will not get the disease if exposed to it.
What Diseases Can My Child Be Immunized Against?
- Pneumococcal disease
- Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
- Hepatitis B
- Measles (red measles)
- Meningococcal disease
- Tetanus (lockjaw)
- Pertussis (whooping cough)
- Varicella (chickenpox)
- Blood infection
Why Is Immunization So Important?
When children who have not been immunized come into contact with someone who has one of the diseases listed, they may get very sick. In some cases, they may die. When children are immunized, their bodies have the chance to fight off these diseases.
How Does My Child Get Immunized?
1 Ask your doctor or a public health nurse for the immunization schedule for your province or territory. They can also tell you which vaccines are covered by your provincial or territorial government. Also ask where and when you can get your child immunized.
2 Ask for a written record to help you keep track of your child’s immunizations. This is helpful to have when you visit your child’s doctor for a check-up.
What About Side Effects?
Minor side effects may include fever, or swelling and tenderness at the spot where the vaccine was given. Ask your doctor, pharmacist or public health nurse if your child can take children’s ibuprofen or acetaminophen to help reduce these side effects.