August is a great time to make sure everyone in your family is up-to-date on their vaccinations. As kids go back to school, they are suddenly surrounded by many other children. This can facilitate the spreading of germs and pathogens, which can lead to dangerous infections. Therefore, it is important to prepare now to keep your family safe and healthy.
What are Vaccines?
Vaccines are the most effective tool that we have to prevent these dangerous illnesses. Vaccines prevent infection by helping the body’s natural immune system develop immunity against harmful pathogens. When germs attack the body, an infection occurs. The immune system then fights off that infection. After the infection is gone, some cells are leftover. These cells help the body recognize that same bacteria or virus in the future, which prevents future reinfections.
Vaccines mimic these infections by inserting a small dose of the bacteria or virus into an individual. Since only a small amount of the weakened bacteria or virus is injected in the individual, the illness does not occur. However, it does cause the immune system to create certain cells capable of fighting off the infection. Therefore, if that person comes in contact with a real version of that same bacteria or virus in the future, the immune system can immediately destroy it, and no illness will occur.
What Vaccines Should My Family Receive?
Because of the important function of vaccines, it is important to make sure everyone in your family receives all of the recommended vaccinations for their various ages. Some vaccines to discuss with your doctor include:
- DTap or TDap: prevents tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough)
- MMR or MMRV: prevents measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella (chickenpox)
- HPV Vaccine: prevents cancers caused by the HPV virus
- Seasonal Flu Vaccine: becomes available mid to late August and helps prevent the flu
In addition to these vaccines, ask your doctor about the other vaccines that are recommended for your age and for your child’s age. If your child follows the recommended vaccination schedule from birth to age 6, he or she will be protected against 14 devastating diseases. However, even after age 6, it is important to consistently go back to the doctor to receive booster shots and new vaccines. This will ensure that you and your family stay healthy!