Immunization awareness month

Written by Nicholas Serrano. Posted in Uncategorized

Published on August 18, 2011 with No Comments

August is National Immunization Awareness Month, created to raise awareness about vaccines and their benefits. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has created a recommended schedule for immunizations according to age: Childhood Schedule (birth-6), Adolescent Schedule (7-18) and Adult Schedule (over the age of 18). These schedules, readily available from the CDC website or from your doctor’s office, list the vaccine and specific ages that the dose should be given according to the recommendation. Here is some information about vaccines that you may not know.

How is the Immunization Schedule created?

Each year, pediatricians and disease experts meet to study any new applicable research and to review the recommendation schedule. The CDC, the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American Academy of Pediatrics together approve the recommended immunization schedule. The schedule is designed so that vaccines are given when the body’s immune system will respond the best.

How do vaccines work?

Everyone is born with an immune system that sees germs as something to fight. The body produces antibodies to fight the germs, virus or bacteria (also known as “antigens”). Once the antigens have been destroyed, the cells that helped produce antibodies remain. These cells – memory cells – remember the original antigen and can fight it again, creating immunity. Vaccines contain killed or weakened antigens of common diseases. They cause the body to create the antibodies needed to fight the antigens, but they are not strong enough for the body to respond with the disease symptoms, though occasionally mild symptoms may be present. Thus, the vaccine creates immunity without actually producing the illness.

How are vaccines regulated?

The Food and Drug Administration is responsible for the “safety, efficacy, purity and potency” of all drugs, including vaccines. Vaccines take, on average, a little over 10 years to go from development to your doctor’s office. But the regulations don’t end there. The Vaccine Safety Datalink project (established in 1990) gathers statistical information on vaccine safety and monitors side effects. The Clinical Immunization Safety Assessment Network (established in 2001) receives and reviews vaccine safety questions, conducts research and is also studying the role of genetics in vaccine safety. Also, as each vaccine batch is created, samples are given to the FDA for testing before they are distributed to the medical community.

Talk with your doctor about which vaccines are recommended for you and your family.

You may view vaccination schedules at www.cdc.gov/vaccines/recs/schedule

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