Vaccines Protect Your Children and Everyone Around You
The process that we know today as vaccination has been part of humanity for over two centuries. In the late 1700’s, Edward Jenner began the first steps on a path that would eventually save many millions from death and disabling illness. Jenner discovered that he could use a mild infection called cowpox to provide protection against a much more dangerous disease: smallpox. Before it was ultimately eliminated from the earth, smallpox killed more than four hundred million people. It left many survivors with life long scars or terrible complications including vision loss. Since Jenner’s remarkable revelation, doctors have expanded on his process and developed other types of equally useful vaccines. In the process, infant mortality rates have fallen all over the globe.
Modern American parents are truly fortunate. Today, they can protect their children against fourteen different dangerous and sometimes deadly diseases. By a time a child is two, parents can provide each child with once unimaginable protection against some of the most deadly diseases ever known. For example, the DTaP vaccine protects newborns from diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis. In doing so, it offers them a vastly reduced risk of getting brain damage or even dying from all three profoundly dangerous diseases. Older toddlers no longer face the possibility of being paralyzed by polio or having their hearing stolen by hib. Measles is the most contagious disease in the world. Before the vaccine, roughly fifty thousand people children were hospitalized annually in the United States alone. Several hundred died from it. Children who receive three MMR shots reduce their chances of getting measles by over ninety-five percent.
Vaccines not only protect children and adults from horrifying illness. They also provide a measure of protection for other people. This is because of a process known as herd immunity. Many diseases only survive by going from host to host. When someone is vaccinated, the vaccines prevent the disease from being transmitted. Vaccinated people produce what are known as antibodies. These are substances that prepare the immune system to fight off disease without the need to produce unpleasant and often highly dangerous side effects such as fevers and body aches. It also means that a vaccinated person can be around others who are infected without getting ill.
Sometimes people cannot get vaccinated. A child, older sibling or beloved grandparent may be immune compromised because of treatment for chronic medical conditions such as asthma. The same may apply if they are being treated for a life threatening disease such as leukemia. A baby may also be too young to get vaccinated. This is because they still have maternal antibodies that would interfere with the production of their own antibodies. In that case, they rely on others to protect them. Vaccination means that other people are helped even if they cannot get vaccinated. It forms an amazing ring of protection not only around for the vaccinated. Vaccination also truly protects other people. In short, vaccines make a safer, healthy community for everyone everywhere.