What does it mean to be immune? According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, one of the definitions of immune is to be incapable of “being affected by a disease.”
What is immunization? Given the definition above, immunization is the act of preventing disease. This is achieved through the administration of vaccines (which is the most common form), oral drugs, or nasal sprays.
Why do we need it? Naturally occurring smallpox was officially declared eradicated by the World Health Organization in 1980 after years of immunizations through vaccination. Although cost issues may lead you to have second thoughts about the various vaccines your child will have to endure year after year, it is a necessary precaution. As the saying goes, “it is better to be safe, than sorry.” Arming your child with an arsenal to prevent serious, and sometimes fatal, diseases may be worth all the effort and pain it may cause your kid. It would be much simpler to plan for that immunization today than it will be to deal with the uncertainties that these diseases may bring.
Can anybody receive vaccines? There is a host of reasons why immunization may not be feasible. Age and health conditions are just two of the common reasons for this. Vaccines follow a certain schedule. It is therefore prudent to follow the timetable given by your pediatrician or medical practitioner. If in doubt, check out the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). They have easy-to-read schedules for children from birth through six years old, preteens and teens, and adults. Pregnant women are strongly encouraged to consult their medical practitioners.
Who can administer it? It is strongly recommended that you look no further than your trusted pediatrician for this. This is especially true for young children. Board-certified doctors and nurses can also give vaccines, such as flu shots. However, your pediatrician would be in the best position to assess when shots should be given.
What are the side effects? Minor effects often include low-grade fever, headaches, abdominal pain, and nausea. It is always helpful to ask your pediatrician about what side effects to watch out for. Oftentimes, they already recommend medicine, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, to prevent any of the effects to cause discomfort to your child. Major problems can include severe allergic reactions, blood in the urine or stool, and inflammation of the stomach. Should any of these occur, contact your pediatrician immediately. There has also been a wealth of literature about the supposed link between autism and vaccination. Although several major medical groups, such as the CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and World Health Organization, have agreed that the relationship does not exist, it is hard to dispel the lingering doubt.
Is it foolproof? There is no such thing as foolproof. The flu vaccine, for example, protects you from most of the seasonal strains. However, considering the fact that there are so many different strains out there, it is virtually impossible to create one single vaccine that can prevent them all.
How much do they cost? The costs of vaccines vary. Major hospitals are often more expensive than government-run hospitals and centers. Vaccines can go as low as PhP900 per shot to more than PhP5,000.