Did you know that around 400,000 Europeans were killed by smallpox each year in the 18th century? The disease was responsible for the death of an estimated 300 to 500 million people in the 20th century as well. It can be forgiven if someone does not know about smallpox and its impact on the world. After all, the disease was eradicated from the face of the Earth in 1979. And this was a result of many years of vaccination!
What is Immunization or Vaccination?
Immunization and vaccination generally mean the same thing, although there are some differences. Immunization is a process by which a person is made resistant or immune to a disease through the administration of a vaccine. During immunization, the person is injected with a weakened form of the disease antigen. They can also be injected with parts of lab grown proteins, which imitate the bacteria or the virus. They are not strong enough to cause the disease but are noticed by the immune system of the body, which then produces antibodies against the disease.
These antibodies break down once the threat has been dealt with. But the immune system has memory cells that remain in the system. So, the next time the body is exposed to the same pathogen, it will start producing antibodies to deal with it. There are different types of vaccines or immunizations as well. These are live attenuated vaccines, inactivated vaccines, subunit vaccines and toxoids.
Importance of Immunization at an Early Age
Childhood immunization might seem like an overwhelming task for a parent. But it is crucial for the well-being of your little one. When a child is born, it has immunity to certain diseases. This is because of the antigens they get from their mother. But this vanishes in a few months. After that, they are vulnerable to many different diseases.
Getting your child vaccinated can take care of this problem. Between the ages of 0 and 6 years, children should be given around 21 vaccines. These protect them from several diseases, such as hepatitis A, tuberculosis, measles, typhoid and varicella. Different types of immunization are used to tackle different diseases. If a child is not given the proper vaccines, they are at risk of contracting these diseases. Some of these could even prove to be life-threatening. By keeping your child safe from diseases, immunization also protects you from the financial burden of treatment.
Another reason to immunize your children is for the well-being of the overall community. There are certain members of the community who cannot be immunized. There are some people too old or children too young to be vaccinated. There are also some people who do not respond to certain vaccine. By ensuring that everyone else is vaccinated, this small section of the society can also be kept safe.
How Effective is Immunization?
Vaccines are a highly efficient tool for fighting diseases. But even they do not work all the time. In fact, it is estimated that the effectiveness of childhood immunization lies between 90% and 100%. The reason why a child may not get fully immunized after getting a vaccine is not fully understood. But even if your child does not get full immunity, the symptoms of the disease would still be a lot milder.
Providing your child all the vaccines according to the immunization schedule is extremely important for their health. If you have any confusion regarding which vaccines to get, it would be a good idea to consult your pediatrician.