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Vaccines stop diseases
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When a child is born, he usually has immunity to certain diseases. This is a result of the disease-fighting antibodies that have passed from the mother to the unborn child. After birth, a breast-fed baby gets the continued benefits of additional antibodies in breast milk. But in both cases, the immunity is only temporary and wears off during the first year of life. That’s why immunization programs, which help young bodies build their own defenses against disease, should be started early and carried out faithfully. Vaccines work best when they are given at the recommended times and on a regular schedule.
Immunization is an artificial way of creating immunity to certain diseases, by using relatively harmless antigens that come from or that are similar to the chemical components of microorganisms that cause disease.
Microorganisms can be viruses, such as the measles virus, or they can be bacteria. Vaccines stimulate the immune system into reacting as if there were a real infection. The immune system then fights off the “infection” and remembers the organism so it can fight it off quickly if it enters the body at some future time. On average, your immune system takes more than a week to learn how to fight off an unfamiliar microbe and sometimes that isn’t soon enough. Some infections can spread through your body faster than the immune system can fend them off.  This was true of many of our childhood contagious diseases and resulted in many deaths in the 20th century.
Vaccines, which provide artificially acquired immunity, are an easier and less risky way to become immune than naturally acquired immunity. With naturally acquired immunity,  a person suffers from the symptoms of the disease and also risks the complications. Vaccines protect not only you but everyone around you as during certain stages of the illness, you may be contagious and pass the disease to family, friends, or others who come into contact with you.
Vaccines are one of the few medicines that prevent a disease from occurring, instead of attempting a cure after a person has symptoms. It is much cheaper to prevent a disease than to treat it. One example given is that every dollar spent on vaccinating children against rubella (German measles) in the United States saves nearly $8 in costs associated with treating the disease.
Some parents hesitate to give their child a vaccine because they are concerned about complications or that their child may develop the very illness the vaccine is supposed to prevent. Although it’s true that some vaccines could have these effects, the likelihood of that happening is extremely small. Not immunizing your child exposes him to far greater health risks associated with contracting the disease than the risks associated with vaccines.
Other parents have wondered whether combination vaccines might overwhelm or weaken a child’s immune system, but this should not be a concern as the immune system contains billions of circulating B and T cells capable of responding to millions of different antigens at once. Because the body constantly replenishes these cells, a healthy immune system cannot be “used up” or weakened by a vaccine. According to one published CDC estimate, infants could easily handle 10,000 vaccines at one time. Only parents who have never seen a case of diphtheria or measles or experienced the distress of a child with a contagious disease would argue over their children receiving a few shots to safeguard them for life.
When parents elect to forgo vaccinations, diseases can reappear. In 1989, low vaccination rates allowed a measles outbreak in the United States. The epidemic resulted in more than 55,000 cases of measles and 136 measles-associated deaths.
Childhood diseases (measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, haemophilus influenza type b, meningococcal and polio)  and hepatitis A and B are preventable by immunization; but they can, and still do, cause crippling complications or death when immunizations aren’t given.
The influenza  vaccine is now recommended for all children aged 6-59 months. This vaccine reduces the average person’s chances of catching the flu by up to 80 percent during the season. A highly contagious viral infection of the respiratory tract, flu may have complications that include pneumonia and other infections. Getting the shot before the flu season is in full force gives the body a chance to build up immunity to, or protection from, the virus.  High incidences of the disease, like we're currently experiencing may prolong the need for the vaccine.
The new human papillomavirus vaccine (HPV) is recommended in a 3-dose schedule with the second and third doses administered 2 and 6 months after the first dose. Routine vaccination with HPV is recommended for females aged 11-12 years; the vaccination series can be started in females as young as age 9; and a catch-up vaccination is recommended for females aged 13-26 years who have not been vaccinated previously or who have not completed the full vaccine series.
With the exception of tetanus, hepatitis B and papillomavirus, all the above diseases are contagious. They can spread rapidly from child to child and from community to community.
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