Immunization is a critical part of a healthy childhood, which is why the pediatric specialists at Chesterfield Pediatrics in Midlothian, Virginia, offer vaccines as one of their many pediatric services. To learn if your child is up to date or to book an immunization visit, call the Chesterfield Pediatrics office or schedule one online today.
“Immunization” describes the process of developing a strong immune system using various vaccines. Vaccines are the substances that make up the shots used during immunization.
Very often, the terms “vaccine,” “vaccination,” and “immunization” are used interchangeably. They all refer to the science-backed process of boosting your immune system to prevent the risks associated with severe infectious diseases.
To understand how vaccines work, it helps to think about the way your child’s immune system functions naturally, without any assistance. When your child’s immune system detects a potentially harmful virus, fungus, or bacteria (antigens), it rushes to create proteins called antibodies.
Antibodies fight off specific antigens. Once your child’s system creates that immune response, the antibodies and other disease-fighting cells remain in place for the rest of their life. They can quickly fight off an infection if they ever encounter that antigen again.
Vaccines provide your child’s immune system with a “training run” for fighting off disease. Each vaccine is formulated to prompt an immune response to a particular antigen. But the substance that triggers that immune reaction is not strong enough to make your little one sick.
This process occurs naturally, with no need for vaccines. However, some antigens are so powerful that they can multiply and overwhelm your child’s body long before natural immunity takes effect. Vaccines build your child’s immunity without having to fight off a full-strength attack.
Immunization is essential to protect your child against severe diseases. But the benefits extend far beyond the level of personal health.
When most of a population is immunized against a specific antigen, that disease can’t easily take hold within the group. This is herd immunity and is why developed nations don’t see widespread outbreaks of diseases like polio and rubella.
Immunization doesn’t just protect your child; it protects all children and, by extension, the whole population. A great deal of misinformation about vaccines has caused many parents to question if they should have their children immunized.
The Chesterfield Pediatrics team is here to answer your questions and address any concerns about the need for vaccines and the schedule for getting these shots. Call the office or book your child's next vaccine appointment online today.