Four Reasons to Make Your Child's Immunizations a Priority
By Cody Miller, EvergreenHealth Staff Writer
Immunizations and vaccines have dominated our daily dialogue for some time now amid the COVID-19 pandemic and other budding health concerns.
Meanwhile, keeping up to date with standard immunizations for our children is as important as ever. Ahead of the next school year, we encourage you to take a look at your child's health record to ensure they are up to date on their immunizations either by looking online through the EvergreenHealth My Navigator patient portal or by calling your child's doctor's office.
Liqun Zhu, MD, with EvergreenHealth in Redmond agrees that vaccines are the safest and most effective way to protect your child from at least 15 dangerous and sometimes fatal diseases that continue to circulate by:
- Preventing serious and sometimes deadly illness in your child
- Preventing the spread and potential outbreaks of diseases
- Preventing diseases common in other parts of the world from spreading in your community
- Protecting those in your family and community who have weakened immune systems or cannot receive vaccinations due to a medical condition
"Children who are not protected by vaccines are more likely to get diseases such as measles and whooping cough. These diseases are extremely contagious and can be very serious, especially for babies and young children," Dr. Zhu says.
Diseases prevented by vaccination include:
- Hepatitis B
- Pertussis (whooping cough)
- Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
- Pneumococcal infection
- Varicella (chickenpox)
- Hepatitis A
- Meningococcal infection
Additionally, the COVID-19 vaccine is now available for everyone 6 months and older.
How Do Vaccines Work?
When you or your child becomes infected with a disease, the body begins producing antibodies to fight the disease. These antibodies stay in the body to guard against future infections.
Vaccines work by giving you or your child the antibodies needed to fight the disease without becoming infected.
"It is always better to prevent a disease than to treat it after it occurs," Dr. Zhu says.
There are sometimes mild reactions to vaccines, including a sore arm or a mild fever, and serious side effects are extremely rare. You should bring up any concerns you have about possible side effects to your pediatrician or your child's primary care doctor.
Many vaccinations are administered shortly after birth, according to the Washington State Department of Health (DOH). In fact, the DOH says children should have 80% of their immunizations by 2 years old. If your child falls behind on their vaccinations, it's never too late to start. You can check your family's immunization records online or call your primary care doctor to discuss whether or not your family is current on all of your vaccinations.
To learn what vaccines your child should have at every stage of their development, the Washington State Department of Health has lists for children 0-6 years old, 7-18 years and college students.