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The Importance of Immunizations
Protect Your Children from Serious Disease

Research by the Content Manager
Sometimes it's hard to tell who hates a vaccination more - the child on thereceiving end of the needle or the parent who has to watch. But that temporary discomfort is minor compared to the serious diseases that immunizations protect against, such as diphtheria, mumps, polio and measles. These diseases have become less common because of immunization, but some still exist in the United States. That is why immunization is essential. When your child was born, she was protected by the disease-fighting antibodies received through the placenta and perhaps through breast milk. Eventually, this immunity wears off and your child must produce her own antibodies to fight disease. At 2 months of age, she should start receiving vaccines, usually shots or sometimes oral solutions, which contain a weakened form of the bacteria or virus that cause a certain disease. The immune system reacts as if this were a real infection and produces antibodies to fight it. If your child is ever exposed to the actual disease, she will be protected because her body has learned how to recognize and fight infection.
Some parents are concerned about possible side effects of immunizations. But it is important to remember that children are in much more danger from the diseases than from the immunizations. In most cases, side effects are minor and might include a slight fever, crankiness, soreness where the shot was given, rash, or joint pain. Severe complications, such as an allergic reaction, are extremely rare. However, there are certain cases in which a child shouldn't receive an immunization, either because of a health condition or known allergy. Your pediatrician can tell you what is best for your child.
Be sure to follow the immunization schedule your pediatrician recommends and keep written records for your child. It's never too late to start. If your child didn't begin immunizations at 2 months of age, or has missed some of her shots, she can still be fully immunized.

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