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December 27

The Importance of Immunizations and Vaccinations: A Comprehensive Guide

One of the best tools we have for keeping people healthy is the ability to vaccinate against dangerous diseases. Diseases that used to spread quickly through entire neighborhoods, often killing babies and children, are now easily prevented through immunizations and vaccinations.

Kids who are vaccinated against these infectious diseases are able to grow up with better overall health. Their immunity even improves health for others in the community who might not be vaccinated. When most people are immune, diseases do not have a chance to spread, even to the unvaccinated. Immunizations and vaccinations are vital to improving the overall health in our community.

Understanding Immunizations and Vaccinations

Immunization and vaccination are the two words our medical staff use to inform patients and families about preventing diseases. They mean almost the same thing, so we use either one.

Vaccination means sending the vaccine itself into the body.

Immunization means protecting a person using a vaccine.

Whichever word our medical providers and pediatric staff use, they are always talking about helping our patients grow up without fear of preventable diseases.

A few hundred years ago, doctors started noticing that if a person had recovered from an infectious disease, they usually never got that disease again. They were immune, which meant that they could help care for sick people without getting sick themselves. Using that information, doctors tried infecting people with a very tiny amount of a disease. The person might get a little bit sick, but then they would recover very quickly. Later, when the person was fully exposed to the disease, they would not get sick at all. This was the beginning of vaccines – infect someone with just a little bit of a disease, and they become immune to it.

Modern medicine has greatly improved on that method. Within the last 100 years, doctors have developed many vaccines to prevent diseases that used to kill or permanently disable huge numbers of people around the world. Doctors can now focus on prevention of these serious illnesses so that we have a healthier population.

The Role of Vaccines in Preventing Infectious Diseases

Vaccines and immunizations have changed the way we approach medical care. Especially in pediatrics, we spend most of our time talking to kids and parents about how to stay healthy. Because we are able to avoid so many vaccine-preventable diseases, we do not have to worry as much about life-threatening illnesses. Of course, kids still get sick, but we can treat most of that easily with antibiotics and over the counter medicine.

Modern vaccines are scheduled throughout childhood to give kids immunity to the diseases that used to harm countless families. Most kids are fully immunized from several preventable diseases before they are teenagers. Some of the diseases we have vaccines for today include:

  • Whooping cough
  • Chicken pox
  • Smallpox
  • Polio
  • Measles

These vaccines work by introducing a very small and weak form of the virus or bacteria into the bloodstream. The child’s immune system notices that something doesn’t belong and goes to work attacking the problem. The child might feel a little bit sick while this happens. Once the immune system fights off that weak version of the disease, it makes its own medicine (called antibodies) to go after that bug if it ever shows up again.

After vaccination, if a child is exposed to that disease in the community, their body knows how to fight it off and get rid of it. So even if a disease like measles is spreading in the community, kids who have their vaccines will be immune to it. Not only will they not get very sick, but they also won’t spread measles to other people.

Vaccine Schedules and Recommendations

The vaccine schedule is designed to immunize kids at an early age while their immune systems are already constantly learning. Because babies and children haven’t been exposed to as many germs as an adult, their bodies are working hard to build up natural immunity all the time. Childhood vaccines are given during this time to strengthen immune systems even more.

LCH Pediatrics follows the vaccine schedule that is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). This schedule starts with newborns and continues throughout childhood and the teenage years. Parents who have not had their children vaccinated at all yet should not panic. We can safely get kids up to date on their immunizations whenever they start seeing our doctors.

Most kids do very well with the recommended immunization schedule. Some kids who have medical conditions might need a different schedule or special vaccine formulas. Our pediatricians carefully review patient medical history and risks to make sure that each child can be immunized on the healthiest timeline for them. Parents are always welcome to discuss their concerns with our office to make sure that their child’s chart is complete and that we are aware of any recommendations from other doctors on their care team.

Herd Immunity and Its Significance

Children who are vaccinated do not just get the benefit of personal protection from disease. They also protect the people around them! This concept is called herd immunity, and it means that a group of immunized people will prevent unvaccinated people from getting sick.

Even though not many people get vaccine-preventable diseases these days, those diseases are still circulating. Unfortunately, there are many individuals who are not immune, so they are at risk of getting sick. When people who have been vaccinated get exposed to that disease, their bodies fight it off very quickly. Not only do they stay healthy, but the disease gets dealt with too fast to become contagious. This means that they don’t spread the disease to other people.

In many of our local neighborhoods, vaccinated children are able to protect their own parents and grandparents from getting sick without ever even knowing it. The only way to continue this protection is to make sure kids keep getting vaccinated. When all of our kids are properly immunized, the entire community is less likely to suffer from preventable diseases.

Addressing Concerns: Vaccine Safety and Effectiveness

Parents have a lot of questions about vaccine safety and vaccine effectiveness. Our staff is happy to discuss these questions with parents over the phone or during an in-person visit. Our goal is to make sure parents understand the role immunizations play in their child’s health.

Vaccines go through years of testing before they are ever approved for use in a pediatrician’s office. Each vaccine is carefully studied to make sure that it is safe and that it does its job of preventing illness. Our offices have information for every vaccine we give to patients, which we provide to parents at their child’s appointment. Parents can also request the information before an appointment if they want to review it ahead of time.

Vaccine side effects are usually very mild. Kids might experience pain at the injection site, get a fever, or be extra tired. These effects are from their immune system doing its job to make those antibodies. More serious side effects are rare, but they may be caused by an allergic reaction to a vaccine ingredient. If a child has a more serious reaction to a vaccine, our providers will discuss the alternatives with the parents to make sure their child can still be protected going forward.

Benefits of Immunization

Overall, the benefits of immunization are countless. We are fortunate to live in a time where most kids are healthy and immune to major diseases. Their parents can worry much less about their children getting life-threatening illnesses.

With community wide immunization awareness, we see reduced school absenteeism, fewer chronic health conditions, and better overall health for our kids. Because of herd immunity, healthy kids pass on those benefits to their immediate and extended families.

This allows everyone in the community to experience all of the benefits of vaccination. Moms and dads don’t get sick as much either, which means that they won’t have to miss work or deal with doctor bills. As a community, we can focus less on sick care and more on positive and preventative healthcare.


In our mission to improve the health and well-being of everyone in our community, LCH Health and Community Services strongly encourages all of our patient families to keep up with vaccinations. No child should have to suffer from a vaccine-preventable disease these days with all of the tools we have available.

LCH Pediatrics is located in our West Grove Health Center, and we are accepting new patients. We provide primary, preventative, and acute care for children of all ages. We accept CHIP, Medicaid, Medicare, and most private insurance, and we have a sliding fee discount program for anyone without insurance. To discuss your child’s current vaccine status, or to make an appointment for a well visit and recommended immunizations, call our office at 610-444-7550.