Why are childhood vaccinations important?
Childhood vaccinations play a crucial role in protecting children from potentially life-threatening diseases. They have been proven to be safe and effective, and they have significantly reduced the incidence of many infectious diseases worldwide. Michael (Mike) Ward, MD, Pediatrics at ARC Buda, says, "Vaccinations are one of the most effective tools we have to prevent serious illnesses and protect children from the harmful consequences of infectious diseases."
How do vaccines work?
Vaccines work by imitating an infection — the presence of a disease-causing organism in the body — to engage the body's natural defenses. "Vaccines teach our bodies how to fight diseases and protect us from severe infections," says Dr. Ward. "While they may cause temporary tiredness and discomfort, the protection they provide can last a lifetime."
The active ingredient in all vaccines is an antigen, the name for any substance that causes the immune system to begin producing antibodies. In a vaccine, the antigen could be:
- Weakened or killed bacteria or viruses.
- Bits of their exterior surface or genetic material.
- Bacterial toxin treated to make it non-toxic.
Learn more about how vaccines work from the CDC.
Which childhood vaccines are necessary?
Several childhood vaccines are considered essential to protect children from a range of infectious diseases. The recommended vaccines vary with age, but some common examples of early recommended vaccines include:
- MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella) vaccine
- DTaP (Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis) vaccine
- Polio vaccine
- Hepatitis B vaccine
- Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b) vaccine
- Pneumococcal vaccine
- COVID-19 vaccine
See a complete list of CDC-recommended vaccinations.
Why is it important to follow childhood immunization schedules?
Following the recommended childhood immunization schedules is essential for several reasons:
- Timely protection: Vaccines are typically given in a specific sequence and at specific ages to provide the best protection against diseases. Following the schedule ensures that children are protected at the earliest possible age and are safeguarded during vulnerable periods.
- Herd immunity: Vaccinations contribute to herd immunity, where a high percentage of the population is immunized against disease. This indirectly protects vulnerable individuals who cannot receive vaccines due to medical reasons or are too young. Maintaining high immunization rates can minimize the spread of diseases, protecting the entire community.
- Preventing outbreaks: Certain diseases, such as measles and whooping cough, can quickly spread and cause outbreaks if vaccination rates drop. Following the immunization schedule helps prevent such outbreaks and maintains the overall health of the population.
Ensuring your child is up to date with their vaccinations is a responsible and crucial step in protecting their health. "Consult with your pediatrician to schedule appointments for the recommended vaccines," says Dr. Ward. "They will guide you through the process, address any concerns, and provide you with the necessary information regarding each vaccine."
Make an appointment with an ARC Pediatrician today
For your convenience, ARC Pediatrics offers many types of appointments at different times of the day or night to fit your needs and schedule.
- Regular appointments during weekday clinic hours
- Same-day appointments with an ARC pediatrician for urgent concerns
- Evening and weekend appointments at ARC After Hours Clinics
- Telemedicine appointments for those times you cannot leave your home
- 24/7 phone nurse to help with middle-of-the-night worries
In the Central Texas area, there are 22 ARC Clinic locations that offer pediatrics. Visit ARC Pediatrics to view all locations and providers and schedule your next appointment.
For more information about childhood vaccinations, including vaccine policies, schedules, and frequently asked questions, visit ARC's vaccination resources page.