The birth of a child is one of the most wonderful times that parents can enjoy. Those nine months spent nurturing your baby were crucial in his or her development. The prenatal health, the medical screens and a good diet contributed to the full development of the fetus. Protection and nurturing does not end once birth has been completed. A plan is needed to continue protecting the child. One of the first steps is setting up a vaccination plan to enhance your child’s immune system.
Depending on what part of the world you live in, your vaccination program will differ. It will also be different depending on your income. Those at the upper income level will have a more specialized vaccination program. Those at the bottom of the income level will have a more general vaccination program. The most common diseases will be immunized in all programs.
Science has made incredible strides in eliminating diseases since the beginning of the 20th century. As such, our vaccination programs have also changed due to new scientific breakthroughs. A vaccination program in the US during the 50’s will be much simpler than a vaccination program today. As an example, in 1950 there were only 7 vaccines given to a child under six. They include pertussis, diphtheria, tetanus ans smallpox. Once you reach 1970s, they added polio, measles, mumps and rubella. today there are up to 16 total recommended vaccinations. Keep in mind that some vaccines require several doses in order to become effective. So a child today can get HPV, Meningococcus, Hepatitis A and B, varicella (chickenpox), MMR (measles, mumps and rubella), influenza, polio, pneumococcal, Rotavirus, Hib and DTap (tetanus, pertussis and diphtheria).
When a child is born, a DTaP vaccine is performed before the age of 7 to protect against three bacterial diseases: tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping-cough). A Tdap vaccination involves the same combination of the three bacterial diseases but it is a booster shot to enhance the immunization usually at the age of 11 or greater. Instead of getting three shots such as the tetanus shot individually, you get all three at one time. So let us break down what the three bacterial diseases are. First there is pertussis or whopping cough is a respiratory disease caused by the bacteria bordetella pertussis. Pertussis bacteria begins its infection by direct contact such as coughing, sneezing or breathing in the same area for an extended period of time. Once in your respiratory tract, the bacteria will create toxins, causing an infection and causing your airways to swell which makes breathing difficult.
Tetanus which is also known as lockjaw which is found in soil, manure and dust. It often looks for cuts or other openings in your skin and once the infection occurs, the bacteria create toxins that cause muscle spasms. These muscle spasm start in the jaw muscles and spread down to the rest of the body. Diphtheria is caused by the bacterium Corynebacterium diphtheriae and spread through the air. The toxins produced by this bacteria cause grey or white patches in your throat, your neck to swell, problems breathing and a barking cough. In severe cases, this bacterial infection can cause heart or nerve damage.
The Tdap vaccine is not perfect. There are some side effects associated with the Tdap shot. You might see some redness, pain, tenderness or swelling where the shot was given. There have been reports of fever, headaches, tiredness, upset stomach, nausea, diarrhea, swollen glands and muscles aches and pains. There have been rare cases of allergic reactions to the vaccine. Considering the infection you are trying to prevent, the side effects are mild.
If the Tdap vaccine is given to adults during pregnancy, you can be assured that no documented side effects have been found and is medically safe. Now, the recommendation is to try to avoid vaccination until after the pregnancy. Unless there is a larger risk that might affect your unborn child.
Have you vaccinated your child?