Knowing and following you and your child’s immunization schedule is the best protection against serious and sometimes deadly diseases, including measles, mumps and tetanus.
How does immunization work?
Did you have chickenpox as a child? If you did, odds are you haven’t experienced another case of chickenpox since. Because your body has previously come into contact with the disease, your immune system knows what antibodies will stop the disease in its tracks. At the first sign of chickenpox germs, your body deploys these antibodies, which kill the germs before they can cause you any harm.
This immediate defense response is thanks to a process called immunization, and it’s the reason why people typically have chickenpox only once, if they ever have it all.
How do vaccines work?
Today, vaccines exist for chickenpox and other diseases that are far more serious, such as polio, pertussis, diphtheria and tetanus. These vaccines are meant to help us build immunization against dangerous diseases without having to experience their effects firsthand.
Vaccines work by introducing your body to a weak or inactive form of a germ that causes a disease, usually through a shot or inhalant. For example, the measles vaccine, while it will not give you measles, will cause your body to recognize measles germs if it ever comes into contact with them. Once you’re immune to a disease, you will likely keep the immunity for the rest of your life.
Can I still contract a disease I’ve been vaccinated against?
Yes, but even if you do not have full immunity against a disease after receiving the appropriate vaccines, these vaccines can still be lifesaving. Vaccines can cause disease symptoms to be milder and less dangerous. The protective immunization effect of vaccines has been responsible for the effective elimination of diseases such as smallpox, diphtheria and polio in the United States.
Do vaccines cause autism?
Though much misinformation has been spread about vaccines, the truth is that they are not linked to autism. Like any medication, vaccines do occasionally cause side effects, but those side effects are usually mild and should not discourage you or your family from getting vaccinated.
What is herd immunity?
In some cases, people with compromised immune systems or certain conditions cannot receive vaccines, which makes it especially important for the rest of us to know and follow our immunization schedules.
An immunization schedule specifies which vaccines we need and when we need to get them. By following these schedules, we create what’s called herd immunity. Herd immunity keeps the most vulnerable of us safe by making sure that dozens of diseases are unable to spread from person to person.
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Immunization Schedules for Infants, Children and Adults
These lists should not be taken as be-all, end-all guides for your family’s immunization schedules. Speak with your family medicine provider to find out which vaccines you need and how you might need to adapt your schedule. Additionally, other vaccines, such as international traveler vaccinations (which vary, dependent on destination), have been left off of these lists but are highly recommended. Everyone ages 6 months and older should receive a flu vaccine once per year unless otherwise recommended by a provider.
Immunization Schedule for Infants (Birth to 15 months)
Immunization schedules are busiest for infants and begin at birth, since babies are born without protection from most diseases. As you’ll notice, many vaccines require multiple doses for maximum effectiveness.
Download our Immunizations Schedule for Infants.
Immunization Schedule for Children and Adolescents (18 months to 18 years)
The frequency of immunizations begins to lessen as children get older, but it’s still important to follow through with boosters. In addition, check with your family medicine provider to see if other vaccines are needed if your child or family plans to travel out of the country.
Download our Immunization Schedule for Children and Adolescents.
Immunization Schedule for Adults (19 years or older)
Your immunization needs will likely vary from other adults as you get older, since the necessity of certain vaccines depends on when you received earlier doses as a child.
Download our Immunization Schedule for Adults.
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