Vaccination started out from an observation that once puzzled medical specialists. People exposed for a certain disease were seen to be resistant to it the second time around, in a process called “variolation”. Edward Jenner, the discoverer of vaccines, actually underwent variolation for cowpox, which left him immune to smallpox, then a scourge for millions.
As vaccines for many diseases were developed, it became customary for children to get their shots in the first years of life. It is important to be vaccinated, in order to get the best protection from dangerous childhood diseases. These are some illnesses that your child could be protected against, with timely vaccination:
TB is one of the leading causes of death in developing countries. This is a disease that attacks the lungs, and can be spread through the air. The BCG (Bacillus Calmette-Guerin) is a weakened strain of the TB bacteria, and can confer immunity.
Polio is a serious illness caused by a virus. Being infected with polio can be traumatic, as this could cause paralysis, loss of use of a certain limb, and even death. Polio vaccine is commonly taken orally or injected. Due to the widespread distribution of vaccines, cases of polio are very rare.
Commonly known as whooping cough, this disease is highly contagious, and produces spasms of coughing. The DPT vaccine makes control of this disease possible.
Also known as lockjaw, tetanus is caused by a bacterium entering the body through a cut or wound. It causes painful muscle spasms, leading to the characteristic “locking” of the jaw. Vaccination is the best protection against tetanus, and undergoing multiple shots is recommended, as one grows older.
This is a viral respiratory disease. This causes rashes, fever, cough, runny nose, and watery eyes that last for a week or more. This is a highly contagious disease, and is spread by sneezing and coughing. The vaccine for measles, often coupled with weakened strains of mumps and rubella, protects a child from the disease.
This is an infection caused by the inflammation of the parotid glands found near the ears. This is also highly contagious, and is spread by inhalation. This may cause sterility in males if left untreated.
This is also called German measles. While not as infectious as measles, it becomes dangerous when contracted by pregnant women. MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine is usually given to children thrice and even as they reach school age.
This is a serious disease caused by a virus, and transmitted through bodily fluids. This attacks the liver, and predisposes a person to many other illnesses such as liver cancer, cirrhosis, liver failure, and death. Vaccine for this illness is available for all age groups to prevent infection.
This is a variant of hepatitis, though less serious. Nevertheless, this causes symptoms such as fever, malaise, nausea, abdominal pain, and jaundice (a yellowing of the skin and eyes). Contaminated food and drink can cause this disease. This disease could be prevented by long-term vaccination, commonly given at two years of age and older. Short-term prevention is available in immune globulin form for all ages.
A viral infection causing rashes all over the skin and mucous membranes, chicken pox can lead to scarring and disfigurement. Symptoms include malaise, abdominal pain, and skin blisters. Often, a person has only one attack of chicken pox in a lifetime, though the virus causing this disease can stay dormant and cause shingles later in life. A vaccine became first available in 1995, and can confer immunity in 90% of people taking it.