A Parent’s Guide to Childhood Immunizations – Part I

Baby girl gets vaccinatedImmunizations against a multitude of illnesses are begun during infancy and continued into adolescence. While there are many immunizations given during this period many are combined with others so that the total number of actual “shots” are fewer than if given separately. Regardless of the number of immunizations given at one particular time, research has consistently shown that there are no greater side effects in both severity and number when these immunizations are given to your baby. Furthermore, the earlier these are given, the more protection is afforded your baby during a time at which these illnesses can have serious consequences. Research has shown the proper ages at which to give these shots to kids and these ages have become the standard. (Click here for the American Academy of Pediatrics 2015 Immunization Schedule)

DPT (diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus) is extremely important to protect your baby. Diphtheria is a devastating disease that mankind has had to deal with in the past that can swell the throat to the point of suffocation, along with high fever and a very ill child. Pertussis is still around today and is worse in severity the younger the child; there is severe prolonged coughing with a characteristic “whoop” at the end of a spasm as the child “catches his/her breath”. Many people with a persistent cough can be carrying Pertussis. There is also high fever and fatigue and loss of the natural cough suppression of the brain to the point of lack of oxygen. Tetanus is a severe disease and often ends with the death of the patient- muscle spasm especially of the facial muscles, fever and exhaustion also is present and again the younger the child the worse the symptoms and outcome.

Hib is a vaccine against a bacteria called Hemophilus Influenza type b, and can be responsible for illness in children and adults. It used to be a main cause of meningitis (another severe illness consisting of inflammation of the covering of the brain and spinal cord. Fortunately after the vaccine was appoved and used, there has been a marked decline in that particular kind of meningitis. Another triumph of man over bacteria.

IPV or OPV (polio) is an illness that sometimes caused muscle weakness to the point of suffocation. “Iron lung” (a certain type of respirator) used to be needed to help people breathe but the rate of death was still high. The polio virus is still around today but the disease is either mild or without symptoms at all.

Hepatitis b can be a very debilitating disease that can permanently injure the liver leading to lifelong problems and shortened life span. This is given in a series of three and has very few to no side effects.

There are still many immunizations to cover that I will do in a follow up early next Spring

The bottom line is that it is important to fully immunize your children at the earliest possible and allowable time. Listen to your doctor, he/she is fully aware of benefits of these life saving vaccines.

About the Author

Dr. Joseph Skoloff received his undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania and his medical degree from The Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. He is a past Vice Chairman of the Department of Pediatrics, a past Chairman of the Infection Control Committee at the Loudoun Hospital Center and a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. In his 41 years as a practicing pediatrician he has kept hundreds of kids and families healthy and safe and plans to continue to do so for years to come. Dr. Joe believes strongly in the combined power of parent and physician working together for the health of their children. He is an advocate for children everywhere and and adheres strongly to the principles of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr Joe is a member of the PedSafe Expert team


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  1. […] will pick up where I left off in A Parent’s Guide to Childhood Immunizations – Part I and deal with some immunizations not yet mentioned (and I do apologize for the time lapse between […]

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