In early autumn it has become common to walk through your department store, especially if it contains a pharmacy, and see signs advertising flu shots. Regarding the immunizations for your baby, please visit your pediatrician, and you will be given a schedule of vaccinations recommended for your child. Pick up almost any popular magazine about health, and you might see an article about how immunizations are responsible for causing this, that, or the other condition. You want the best for your baby, and the choices you make could have long-term consequences, especially those concerning health. To get those shots or not…that is the question.
A Little Background on Immunization
It all began with a country doctor who overheard a milkmaid say, “I’ll never have smallpox because I’ve had cowpox. No ugly pockmarked face for me.” Dr. Edward Jenner, a recognized physician and scientist, tested the veracity of her statement, and the smallpox vaccine was born. Thanks to that insight, a little-known folk artist in the late 1900s was able to sing almost truthfully, “Old king plague is dead, the smallpox plague is dead.” No new cases of smallpox have been reported since 1977, but a few laboratories have maintained samples of the smallpox virus.[amazon_link asins='B00BRHSCLE,B005UEB96K,B000LZFZVS,B0009MFUZE,B00171WXII,B00M4M2W1W,B0795ZW85G,B00VXMXN30,B075G6XMSF' template='ProductCarousel' store='us-1' marketplace='US' link_id='fabd7840-edb3-11e8-b403-714c2c37004f']
Next Louis Pasteur, who developed the concept of germs, developed a vaccine for rabies, formerly a dire disease from which no one, human or beast, successfully recovered. This was followed up by Emile Roux developing the diphtheria vaccine. Diphtheria is a serious disease associated with lack of sanitation. It can cause obstruction of the respiratory system and subsequent death. Cholera and typhoid vaccines were also developed, two more diseases often spread through poor sanitation.
For centuries there were illnesses considered to be common childhood diseases, measles, chickenpox, whooping cough and mumps. For many youngsters, contracting these diseases simply meant a week or two in bed followed by recovering and subsequent immunity. But not all were so lucky, and even those who made a textbook recovery will tell you that none of these diseases were any fun at all. A woman who is old enough to have had all of these except mumps commented, “I was twelve when I got measles. My head hurt, I was nauseous, I was hot and cold all over and I itched unbearably. It was a relief when I finally broke out. Chickenpox I had with my children, the oldest brought it home from school. We got off lightly but having had chickenpox leaves you open to the possibility of hives later in life. I think the worst, however, was whooping cough. I was seven when I caught it, and it lasted all winter long. There are medicines for it now, but not back then. The name comes from the distinctive sound made from the coughing that goes with the disease, a deep, raw “whoop” that feels as if your lungs would tear right out of your body. You whoop until you throw up. Too much heat, you whoop. Too much cold, you whoop. I learned to read silently because talking, even in a whisper, would start the fatal tickle in the back of my throat.” Sound like fun? No so much, I think.
Those flu shots? Well, let’s take a look at those. In 1918 the “Spanish flu” was responsible for at least 50 million deaths worldwide, and about 675,000 deaths in the United States. It is estimated that at least 1/3 of the world’s population was infected. The young were the hardest hit. It wasn’t smallpox, but it certainly took its toll.
Are Immunizations 100% effective?
Sadly, they are not. People who are exposed to those infamous “childhood” diseases, to unsanitary living conditions, or to unclean water can still get sick. The vaccines do mitigate the effects, and better understanding of the diseases and their causes make providing relief easier.
Tuberculosis is one of the diseases that has not responded well to vaccines. HIV, the precursor to AIDS, has no vaccine, although efforts have been made to develop one. Modern medicine can do a lot of things that could not be done in the past, but it doesn’t have the answer for everything.
Are There Side Effects from Immunizations?
The sobering answer is that there can be side effects. As a general rule, these are limited to a little bit of soreness at the injection site, and maybe a little fever or malaise for a day or two after receiving it. Different kinds of immunizations can have different effects. With very rare exceptions, the reaction to the vaccine is far milder than even the mildest form of the disease. However, because there is always the chance that an individual might have an unusual reaction, recipients are always cautioned to call the doctor or health official if they are feeling ill afterward.
Can Vaccines Cause Autism?
No. This question has been thoroughly researched and completely debunked. Without going into it deeply, it was based on some very questionable “facts”. Researchers were unable to find any connection between getting vaccines and developing autism.
Should Your Baby Have the Accepted Course of Immunizations?
The writers and publishers of this article are not medically qualified to answer that question. But our feeling is that yes, you should take the advice of your doctor, and follow his or her recommendations for immunizations. If you’ve ever coughed until it felt as if your lungs were turning inside out, if you’ve ever mittened the hands of an unhappy baby who is covered with chicken pox scabs, if you’ve walked the floor with a feverish toddler and wondered whether it is emergency room time or if you and your baby can wait until the doctor’s office opens in the morning, then you will want those immunizations. They aren’t perfect, but they could give your baby that necessary edge for good health.
Immunizations Are a Part of Your Well-Baby Regimen
Unless you or members of your family are prone to some unusual condition, immunizations should be part of your well-baby doctor visits. Your pediatrician will advise you as to any reactions that might require bringing your baby back for another visit. In today’s world where babies are often in daycare situations from infancy, vaccines help boost your little one’s immunity to the germs that kids seem to love to share.
What did you think of our blog?
Let us know in the comments section below!