Statistically, the chances of your child getting a vaccine-preventable disease might be low. These include measles, mumps, or pertussis. But if they don’t have vaccine protection, the risk is high. And these are dangerous diseases, sometimes deadly. Protection works for your child, like wearing a seatbelt even when you’re not expecting an accident.
The best defense against disease is a strong immune system.
Immunity is the body’s way of preventing disease. When children are born, their immune systems are not fully developed. Kids are at greater risk of infection then. Vaccines, however, reduce that risk by working with the body’s natural defenses. Together, their bodies safely develop immunity to disease.
Vaccines use small amounts of antigens to help children’s immune systems recognize and learn to fight serious diseases. Antigens are parts of germs that cause the body’s immune system to work. Immunity is built naturally when the body fights a new infection. But with vaccines, the body can fight without getting sick, thus avoiding a bad outcome. That is: both a disease and a vaccine give future protection from that disease, but with the disease, the body has to get sick to get the protection. That doesn’t have to happen with a vaccine.
Social media and the COVID-19 pandemic have given rise to questions surrounding vaccine safety. Fortunately, vaccine safety is a priority for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Federal Drug Administration (FDA). Both institutions take many steps to ensure vaccines are safe before releasing vaccines to the public. This safety is further monitored after use.
Before a vaccine is ever given to people, the FDA does extensive lab testing for positive outcomes and safety. This process usually takes several years. After lab testing, trial testing begins in people. It is several years before the studies are complete and a vaccine is licensed. Once licensed, the FDA, CDC, National Institutes of Health, and other federal agencies, routinely monitor its use. They also investigate any potential safety concerns.
To understand how the COVID-19 vaccine was made faster than this, visit the CDC website about its development. The website explains how decades of research led to quick identification of the virus to create a weapon against it. Please note as of July 2021, the COVID-19 vaccine is only available to children 12 years or older, and adults.
Like any other medication, vaccines can cause side effects. These include low-grade fever or redness, and pain in the injection site. Severe, long-lasting side effects are extremely rare.
If you have questions or concerns about a vaccine, talk with your child’s doctor. You can also visit the vaccine decision page on the CDC website.
Capital Blue Cross resources
If you are a Capital Blue Cross member, you can look at the suggested preventive care schedule to see what vaccines may be due for your child. If you need a pediatrician to administer vaccines, you can use MyCare Finder to find a local provider who is in-network. If you are worried your child may not react well to getting shots, read up on some tips that may help.