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Baby Vaccination

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Baby Vaccination

As a parent, you want to do whatever you can to protect your child and keep them safe and healthy. Vaccines are an important way to do that.

For newborns, breast milk can help protect against many diseases. It contains antibodies passed from the mother. However, this immunity wears off within a year, and many children aren’t breastfed to begin with. In both cases, vaccines can help protect babies and small children from disease. They can also help prevent the spread of disease to older children and adults.

Vaccines imitate infection of a certain disease in your body. This prompts your immune system to develop weapons called antibodies. These antibodies fight the disease that the vaccine is meant to prevent. With them in place, your body can defeat any future infection with the disease.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) decides which vaccines should be given to people in the United States. They recommend that several vaccines be given during childhood. Read on to learn more about their recommendations.

About Vaccines

As you make decisions regarding your child's vaccination schedule, it is important to explore as much information from credible sources as possible. Your family physician is a great resource, knowing both the science and your child. Work together with your healthcare provider to make the best vaccination decisions for your baby.

Types of Vaccines

There are several types of vaccines, each well-suited to prevent different diseases. When administered, vaccines trigger your body's defenses which create antibodies to fight the bacteria or virus.

The scientific community chooses what type of vaccine to develop based upon the characteristics of the infecting agent (bacteria, virus or toxin), and then works to make the safest vaccine possible.

Here are the main types of vaccines:

Live Attenuated Vaccines :

These vaccines are made up of living virus or bacteria that have been weakened (attenuated) by scientists. These vaccines are very effective, but in rare cases (such as in people with compromised immune systems), can cause infection.

Inactivated Vaccines :

More stable than live vaccines, these vaccines contain disease microbes that have been killed with chemicals. Inactivated vaccines tend to stimulate a weaker immune response than live vaccines, and may require booster shots to maintain immunity.

Toxoid vaccines :

When the cause of illness is a toxin that the virus or bacteria emits, scientists may be able to formulate a vaccine from just the deactivated toxin, rather than the whole bacteria. When the vaccine is administered, the immune system learns to fight off the toxin.

Conjugate Vaccines :

Some bacteria have special coatings that hide them from the immune system. Conjugate vaccines link these coatings to an organism that an immature immune system can recognize, so it can respond and produce immunity.

Subunit Vaccines :

These vaccines are made with only the parts of the microbe that stimulate the immune system. Subunit vaccines can be made by taking apart the actual microbe, or they can be made in the laboratory using genetic engineering techniques. Since these vaccines contain only parts of the microbe rather than the whole microbe, the chance of temporary reactions is even lower than with other kinds of vaccines.

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