Protecting Your Child From Infectious Disease
There are many commonsense precautions you can take to protect your child from disease, but one of the best ways to do this is through vaccination. Vaccination is the introduction of inactivated disease into the body. Through vaccination, the immune system is prodded into recognizing and fighting off specific diseases. Once the immune system wins the war, cells are created that remain on the alert for microbes that cause the disease. Immunity to that disease has been achieved.
Sometimes this immunity lasts a lifetime, but other vaccines need a follow up at some later point in time in the form of booster shots.
Various diseases require different types of vaccines. Types of vaccine include:
*Live Vaccine—The virus or bacterium are alive, but have been weakened so as not to cause the disease. This method brings on a potent immune reaction, which often lasts a lifetime.
*Inactivated Vaccine—The virus or bacterium is dead. This type of vaccine doesn't produce a powerful immune reaction and often requires a booster shot.
*Subunit Vaccine—Only the antigens of the microbe responsible for the disease are injected. This minimizes the chances of an adverse reaction to the vaccine.
*Toxoid Vaccine—Contains toxins that in some cases are secreted by bacteria and can only protect against a limited number of toxin-specific diseases.
The next generation of vaccinations will contain DNA specific to a disease. Once scientists figure out how this can be accomplished, we will be able to vaccinate against diseases such as HIV and malaria.
Since vaccines are at their most effective when administered to the youngest possible immune system, most vaccinations are given in early childhood. Children have a greater vulnerability than adults to many diseases; yet another reason to vaccinate youngsters. Vaccination has managed to eradicate measles and other diseases which use to be common and sometimes fatal among American children.
Certain diseases are more prevalent in specific geographical locations. For this reason, those preparing to travel outside of the United States may need specific vaccinations, for instance for hepatitis A, typhoid fever, or yellow fever.
Researchers are always on the lookout for new vehicles of vaccination so as to raise the level of immunity to disease worldwide. Much research is also being done regarding vaccines for specific diseases like HIV or as protection against bioterrorism agents.