World Immunization Week Highlights Infant and Childhood Vaccines that Protect Kids From Disease

Baby boy at the doctor

This press release appeared on Fox 40. Read more here.

World Immunization Week is April 22-28. Vaccines have been held up as one of the greatest achievements of modern medicine. Not only do they greatly reduce the suffering and death caused by illness, they reduce the cost of healthcare significantly by preventing disease in the first place.

Examples of vaccines range from what are generally considered childhood diseases such as polio and measles, to diseases such as influenza and pertussis (whooping cough) that affect people of all ages. And the vaccine that prevents children from chicken pox also prevent adults from developing shingles, since both come from the same virus, varicella-zoster. One of the newest vaccines – HPV – can event prevent six different kinds of cancer.

In some cases, diseases have all but disappeared thanks to worldwide vaccination efforts. People rarely hear of smallpox, diphtheria, or rubella today thanks to vaccines. As a result, parents may wonder if their child needs all of the vaccinations recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

“Children under five years of age are especially susceptible to disease because their immune systems have not built up the necessary defenses to fight infection. By immunizing on time (by age two), we protect children from disease while also protecting others at school or daycare,” said Neal Davis, MD, a pediatrician and medical director of pediatric community-based care at Intermountain Health.

Today, many parents search online for answers that support a belief about the risks of vaccines. But the bulk of these claims are inaccurate and unproven. A lot of this information has caused parents to second-guess the facts they hear from their pediatrician and other trusted medical sources. And it scares people away from a vaccine that could save their child’s life.

Just like other rumors that go viral on social media platforms, these anti-vaccine posts are not checked for accuracy. They may not be the best or most accurate information about your baby’s vaccines.

According to pediatricians, it can take weeks for a vaccine to help children make protective disease-fighting antibodies, and some vaccines require multiple doses to provide best protection. If a parent waits until they believe the child could be exposed to a serious illness – like when he or she starts daycare, travels abroad, or during a disease outbreak – there may not be enough time for the vaccine to work.

There are vaccines to help prevent the following 14 childhood diseases. Some immunizations are combined in one shot to protect children from two or three diseases at once.

  • Hepatitis
  • Rotavirus
  • Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis
  • Hemophilus influenzae
  • Pneumococcal
  • Polio
  • Measles, mumps, rubella
  • Varicella
  • Human papillomavirus
  • Meningococcal

Pediatricians and the CDC also recommend the COVID-19 vaccine and a booster for children ages six months and older.

Any vaccine can cause side effects.?For the most part these are minor (for example, a sore arm or low-grade fever) and go away within a few days.?It’s important to know that vaccines are continually monitored for safety, and like any medication, vaccines can cause side effects. However, a decision not to immunize a child also involves risk and could put the child and others who come into contact with him or her at risk of contracting a potentially deadly disease.

“Vaccines are a great way to create natural and lasting protection against viruses and illness,” said Dr. Davis. “We put kids in car seats, encourage them to wear helmets, and give them healthy foods and warm clothes to protect them. Vaccines are one more way we keep our kids healthy and safe.”

There is a federal government program that provides free vaccinations for children. For more information about free vaccines visit the CDC Vaccines for Children Program webpage.

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I Vaccinate provides information and tools based on real medical science and research to help Michigan parents protect their kids. Support is provided by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Franny Strong Foundation.

You’ve got questions. That’s a good thing.

As parents, determining how best to protect our children can be overwhelming and confusing. We’re here to help.

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