Infants are vulnerable to diseases. However, the antibodies that were passed onto them by their mothers through the placenta give them the necessary protection that they need after birth. They also derive continued protection from the antibodies that they get from their mothers' milk. This protection, however, does not last.
To get permanent protection from viral diseases such as measles and polio, and bacterial diseases such as tetanus and pneumonia, children should get vaccinated. Vaccines create immunization to diseases by introducing a small quantity of weakened pathological microorganisms to the body. The body reacts to these minimal amounts of pathogens by producing antibodies, the way it would normally react when fighting off a genuine full-scale infection. The immune system keeps information concerning these disease-causing microorganisms such that in future exposures, it is able to quickly respond with the necessary antibodies.
Parents need not worry that the vaccine will produce serious reactions among their children. The microorganisms in the vaccine were intentally weakened so as not to trigger serious sickness. At most, the child would experience some soreness on the injection area or a slight fever. Serious complications are rare. It is far better for the children experience mild reactions, than to be vulnerable to these diseases.
Most vaccines can be taken in combination with other vaccines to reduce the frequency of shots on the child. The following are some of the highly recommended vaccines for children:
1. Hepatitis B vaccine. This vaccine offers protection from childhood through adulthood. The disease has been highly correlated to serious illnesses such as cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer. It is usually administrated in a series of three shots: The first, a few hours after birth; the second, after 1 or 2 months; and, the third, between the baby's 6th and 18th month.
The shots should not be given to sick children and to children who exhibited severe allergic reaction on their initial HBV vaccine or to yeast used in baking.
2. DTaP vaccine. This vaccine offers protection from diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis. Diphtheria is a severe infection of the throat that causes breathing difficulties. Tetanus, or lockjaw, is a toxic bacterial disease involving the nervous system that is caused by infection of an open wound. Pertussis or whooping cough causes severe coughing that can have serious complications in children one-year-old and below. The vaccine is administrated in a series of five shots. The first three shots on the baby's second, fourth, and six month; the fourth shot, between 15 and 18 months; and, the last shot, between the ages of 4 and 6 years. Booster shots are given at age 11 or 12 years.
3. Polio vaccine. This vaccine protects against the viral disease, polio, which can cause paralysis, and is potentially fatal. Injection of inactivated poliovirus vaccine is given to a child at age 2 months, 4 months, between 6 and 18 months, and between 4 and 6 years.
4. Pneumococcal Vaccine. This vaccine protects against serious illnesses such as pneumonia and bacterial meningitis. Children, as well as adults over 65 years old, are the ones who are most vulnerable to this pathogen. It is administrated in a series of four shots starting on the child's 2nd month, then, at age 4 months, 6 months, and between the 12th and 15th month. It should not be given to sick children and to children who had serious allergic reactions to previous injections of the vaccine.