The number of children immunized against potentially dangerous diseases is on the rise. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 116.5 million children ages one and under have had the diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccination across the globe. And this is far from the only vaccine that children are getting.
Take a look at some of the most common vaccine-preventable illnesses and why immunizations are an important part of protection.
Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis
Again, this is one of the most-used vaccines worldwide. Even though your child will get this vaccination as one shot, it covers three separate diseases.
Diphtheria was responsible for the death of tens of thousands of American children annually before the vaccination was created, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Along with respiratory issues, it can also cause paralysis and life-threatening heart failure.
Tetanus, commonly known as lock jaw, is a serious illness that causes paralysis of the mouth area. Not only is it painful, but in the past it killed one out of every five people who contracted it. Likewise, pertussis is another dangerous disease. Also known as whooping cough, pertussis causes severe coughing. In its most severe form, it can eventually lead to seizures and brain damage.
The DTaP vaccine protects children against all three diseases during childhood and beyond. Most healthy children start the vaccine series at 2 months, with additional doses given at 4 months, 6 months, 15 to 18 months, and 4 to 6 years.
Even though you may have had chicken pox during your younger years, it doesn't mean your child has to. The telltale red, itchy bumps combine with fever, fatigue, headache, and sometimes loss of appetite for up to a week. In severe cases, children can suffer from skin infections, pneumonia, swelling of the blood vessels, blood infections, joint infections, encephalitis, or meningitis.
Along with the symptoms, a chicken pox infection also means that the child will need to miss school — due to the highly contagious nature of the disease. Vaccinations protect children and help to stop the spread of this disease. Children typically get the immunization between 12 and 15 months, with a second dose between 4 and 6 years old.
Unlike other vaccines, protection from the flu requires annual immunization. The specific strain that this immunization offers protection from changes by the year, depending on what is projected to hit hardest.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), infants and children over the age of 6 months should get the annual flu vaccine. While there is a nasal spray available, in many years the shot has proven a better protection method.
The flu can cause symptoms that range from a headache and sore throat to serious respiratory issues or a high fever. Along with avoiding people who have the flu and using proper hand-washing techniques, the vaccine can reduce the risk that your child will get this viral infection.
Measles, Mumps, and Rubella
Like the DTaP vaccine, the MMR vaccine protects against multiple diseases. This immunization reduces the risk of contracting mumps, measles, or rubella. All three illnesses are extremely contagious, spreading rapidly in closed environments such as daycares or schools. Children get two doses of the vaccine, one at 12 to 15 months and one at 4 to 6 years.
A measles infection can result in a red rash, a cough, or a fever. In serious cases, the illness also causes pneumonia or brain damage. Severe infection may be life-threatening. Mumps can cause symptoms such as headaches, muscle aches, fatigue, or swollen glands. This illness can also cause swelling of the reproductive organs (testicles in men and ovaries in women), encephalitis, or meningitis.
While rubella can cause uncomfortable symptoms such as sore throat and headache, it's most dangerous for pregnant women. The infection can cause miscarriage or result in birth defects. If you have pregnancy plans, protect yourself (and your unborn baby) by having your child vaccinated.
Is your child up to date on their vaccinations? Contact Kids Avenue Pediatrics for more information.