Doctor Talk: Why are Immunizations Important and How Do They Work?

Why Are Vaccines Important?

by Julie, Dunlea, MD, FAAP

There are few topics that spark more emotions than vaccines . At Pediatric Associates, Inc. we practice evidence-based medicine. We are always happy to discuss vaccines at your child’s well visits. It is important to understand what a vaccine does and why vaccines are important to your child, your family and the community in general.

Vaccines are given to protect against infections that have a high likelihood of severe consequences, including death. When you receive a vaccine, you are receiving a piece of the bacteria or virus, or in the case of a live vaccine, an altered version of the virus which does not cause disease. This causes an asymptomatic infection, spurring the immune system to create “memory cells” which stick around the body. It is the memory cells which confer immunity. Think of the vaccine as a “Most Wanted” poster for the immune system. If that particular villain tries to invade the body (measles, diphtheria, polio, etc) the immune system reacts immediately and shuts it down before it can cause trouble.

After receiving a vaccine, your child may feel sore and tired, and may even develop a fever for 1-2 days. The immune system is doing its job creating those memory cells. In true child fashion, most children have very few, if any, side effects. They go on playing, with a good story to tell and a sticker to show for it.

It is easy to see why a vaccine benefits the individual receiving it. However, the benefits go beyond just one person. Once someone is immunized, they are much less likely to spread that disease to someone else – for instance, a newborn baby, or a grandparent, or a child with cancer. In fact, when enough people in a community are vaccinated, even those who aren’t immunized are protected. This is called herd immunity.

We realize that there has been a glut of misinformation in the popular media. Millions of dollars have been spent studying vaccine safety. Scientific studies have proven , time and again, that vaccines are safe and effective.

In closing, we want you to know that here at Pediatric Associates, Inc, we not only talk the talk, we walk the walk. All of our children are fully vaccinated, and vaccinated on the well-studied schedule set by the AAP and the CDC. We protect our children, we protect our community. Be a part of that with us.