HealthVantage Mommy Series Article Week 4 Immunizations

HealthVantage Mommy Series Article Week 4
How Vaccines Work
Your infant is born with an immune system capable of recognizing germs as “foreign” invaders, or
antigens, and then producing antibodies in response to fight these invaders off. Memory cells are
the cells that produce these antibodies and work to defend your baby’s body against these
antigens whenever they try to attack the body again. This process is how we develop immunity to
diseases. Vaccines provide immunity because they contain a killed or weakened version of the
antigens that cause the various diseases. When your baby receives the vaccine, his or her body
produces antibodies and the memory cells prevent reinfection if they are exposed to the disease
Why Vaccinate Your Infant
Vaccines protect the people that receive the vaccination, as well as those in the surrounding
community because of herd immunity. This means that having more people vaccinated protects
everyone because there are less susceptible hosts. When people do not receive immunizations,
we are all at greater risk for disease. No vaccination is 100% effective, so if a large percentage of
the population is not vaccinated, even the immunized are at risk for disease contraction.
You may wonder if it is necessary to immunize your infant. The answer is yes. While it is true that
infants receive some immunity to diseases because of antibodies from mom, this immunity does
not last long. Babies may also not be strong enough to fight off germs they are exposed to, which
is why many diseases can be fatal to infants. The experts, including the Centers for Disease Control
(CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), encourage parents and caregivers to follow
the recommended timeline with your pediatrician to ensure your child is well protected.
Where to Get Vaccine Information
The resource section below provides links to a few different charts that provide you information on
the various immunizations children receive. These recommendations on timing come from the
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CDC and AAP. These charts do not serve as a replacement for talking to your family physician or
pediatrician about creating a vaccine schedule for your child. Always consult your personal
physician for all matters related to your child’s health.
What to Know about Adults and the Pertussis Vaccine
Pertussis, otherwise known as whooping cough, is a respiratory tract infection that can have
potentially fatal consequences in infants. It is highly contagious, especially to infants who are not
fully vaccinated. There has been a focus on preventing whooping cough in babies by getting adults
to make sure they are up to date with their pertussis booster shot. Many adults assume they are
protected from these childhood diseases, but this is not always the case. Some adults did not
receive all or any of the recommended dosages as children. Immunity can also fade if necessary
boosters are not received.
Discuss with your doctor about whether or not a pertussis booster is necessary. No vaccine is 100
percent effective if there is an outbreak, and you and your family could be at risk. If you’re unsure,
call your physician to request a current shot record.
What to Know about Pregnancy and Vaccines
Immunizations are part of the big picture when it comes to preparing for the healthiest pregnancy
possible. The OB will ask about your vaccine record at the initial visit. All women preparing for an
OB visit should get a copy of their vaccination record to bring to the doctor. This will allow the
physician to determine whether or not a certain vaccination or booster is needed. Some
immunizations are safe to receive during pregnancy, while others are not. The physician will weigh
the pros and cons to determine whether or not certain vaccines should be administered during
pregnancy or if it is better to hold off.
The annual influenza vaccine, otherwise known as the flu shot, is recommended during pregnancy.
The influenza vaccine is considered safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women. The flu is
especially serious for expectant mothers because pregnancy changes immune, heart and lung
function. Pregnant women are more likely to die from the flu than their non-pregnant
counterparts. There are also consequences for the unborn baby, including an increased risk of
premature delivery.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the CDC highly recommend receiving
a flu shot for your benefit as well as your baby’s benefit. Women who receive the shot during their
pregnancy pass the antibodies to their baby, which helps protect the child from the flu for up to six
months after birth. If you did not receive the flu shot during pregnancy, talk to your physician
© Med-Vision For Mommies | Spring 2012 |
about being vaccinated. Also, encourage anyone with close contact to your baby to also be
How to Empower Yourself
If you are concerned about the side effects of certain vaccinations, discuss these concerns with
your pediatrician. Most physicians will discuss possible side effects of vaccines and what to do if
your child experiences an abnormal reaction. Come prepared with questions and do not ever
hesitate to ask a question you want answered. The CDC, AAP, and the Institute of Medicine have
made statements against the idea that vaccines are responsible for problems like autism and SIDS.
However, as a parent, you are encouraged to get all the information you can from credible sources
and from your pediatrician so you can make the best and most informed decision about your
child’s wellbeing.
Resource Links for Parents to Print and Use: This PDF
form can be printed and brought to your child’s pediatrician to help you keep track of when your child
receives suggested vaccines. This
link provides an easy to read and understand timeline on when certain vaccines are recommended. This is a free
PDF available for parents to print out and bring to their pediatrician visits. It lists the immunization
schedule, general milestones that infants should be reaching and a place to record their growth.
Additional Resources:
The American Academy of Pediatrics:
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2009). How vaccines prevent disease.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2010). Pregnant women need a flu shot.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2010). Vaccines and preventable diseases: pertussis (whooping
cough) vaccination.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2011).Outbreaks questions and answers.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2011).Pertussis (whooping cough): what you need to know.
Curtis, G. B. & Schuler, J. (2008).Your pregnancy week by week, 6th edition. Da Capo Press.
© Med-Vision For Mommies | Spring 2012 |