They are all around us, in the air we breathe and surfaces we touch- viruses and bacteria that cause such illnesses as Meningitis, Measles and even the familiar Chicken Pox. In the United States, our lack of concern over seemingly “obsolete” diseases like Polio have caused the need to remind us that there can still be an outbreak if proper precautions are not taken. We need to remember how immunizations work to understand why they are important to administer to our children to ensure they have the best health we can give them.
Just like a template you would use for a spreadsheet or new resume, our bodies use templates called antigens (the weakened virus or bacteria used in the immunization) to know how to fight the disease in the future. It is as if your antibody recognizes the virus and says “Hey, I know you!” thus being able to fight the illness trying to attack the immune system. When a dose of immunization is administered to an individual, that person is storing up resistance to a disease.
The reason it is so important to keep up on immunizations is because they help prevent serious diseases like Cervical Cancer (using HPV vaccine), as well as bacterial infections like Pneumonia. Pneumonia can be “caught” by those who are not even appearing sick, so it is important for not just children and the elderly, but especially important for those considered high risk with health conditions like diabetes and asthma to get vaccinated against the flu and pneumonia. Merely as a carrier, adults that are seemingly healthy pose a risk to those who are not. Another virus, Rotavirus, which causes inflammation of the stomach and intestines, was the leading cause of severe diarrhea in U.S. infants before the vaccine was introduced in 2006. We see that rotavirus is an overlooked virus that causes over a half a million deaths each year in children younger than five. (http://www.cdc.gov/rotavirus/index.html).
Remember to keep your children up on their vaccines according to their age/schedule. Your family doctor can provide information specific to your child and family, but additional resources can be gained at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Immunization Schedule.
Sumner Regional Medical Center
555 Hartsville Pike
Gallatin, Tennessee 37066