Few things have changed the course of human health more powerfully than vaccinations. At Annandale Pediatrics, families in and around Annandale, Virginia, have access to the full range of childhood vaccinations, as well as comprehensive information about the importance of helping your child develop strong immune systems that will provide a lifetime of protection. Learn more during your next visit, which you can book online or over the phone today.
Vaccines are injectable solutions that contain a weakened or dead version of a specific virus, bacteria, or toxin. Vaccines provide a safe, controlled opportunity for your body to build a natural defense against common diseases.
Vaccination is the term used to describe the process of getting one or more vaccines. Immunization is the term used to describe the biological process of developing immunity through vaccination. These terms are often used interchangeably to discuss the role that vaccines play in developing a strong and healthy immune response.
The best way to understand vaccines is to think about how your child’s body naturally responds to viral or bacterial infections. When your system identifies a potentially harmful substance, or antigen, it launches a strong immune response.
Antibodies are produced to combat that specific antigen. These antibodies “lock on” to the antigen and reduce its ability to do harm. Once your child develops antibodies to a specific antigen, that protection remains in place for the rest of their lives. That’s why there are numerous recommended childhood vaccines, so that your child will be fully armed against the most harmful disease by the time they reach adulthood.
This process occurs even without vaccination. The problem with relying solely on your natural immune response is that many diseases are so strong that an infection could overwhelm your child’s system before they can build a natural immune defense.
Vaccines deliver a carefully controlled volume of the antigen, acting as a sort of “training run” that enables your child to develop immunity. If your little one ever encounters the full-strength version of those antigens, he or she will be prepared to fight off infection.
Getting your child fully vaccinated is the best way to protect against serious and potentially life-threatening diseases. However, the importance of immunization goes far beyond the personal level.
When the majority of a population is vaccinated against a specific disease, it becomes very hard for that disease to gain hold within the population. This is called “herd immunity,” and it is the primary reason Americans no longer fear widespread outbreaks of polio, rubella, and many other diseases that once decimated populations.
If you have questions or concerns about vaccinations, call Annandale Pediatrics today. You can schedule an appointment online or by phone, and your child’s pediatrician is happy to discuss the role that childhood vaccination plays in lifelong health.