Loving parents taking care of a child would do the best for their daughter or son. To have a healthy and smart child, it really starts even before pregnancy. The first 1000 days refers to a child’s life from the moment they are conceived until they reach 2 years of age. This means for a successful conceive, a mother needs to be prepared by being healthy and making sure there are no serious fertility issues. During pregnancy, mothers need to get regular antenatal check-ups. After their child is born, parents need to ensure their child’s development and growth is within a healthy level for their age. Vaccination is important for a child and one may wonder can vaccines overload their baby’s immune system.
Studies show there is no evidence that vaccines overload a baby’s immune system. It also does not increase risk for other infections. In fact, vaccines train the baby immune’s system to quickly recognise and clear out bacteria or viruses that potentially lead to serious diseases. This means that vaccines are the best defence against infections that a parent can provide for their child. A loving parent would understand the importance of vaccinating their baby as recommended by their doctor.
Children are given vaccines at a young age because they are vulnerable to getting sick or even dying from infectious diseases. It is true that babies may be immune to certain diseases, especially the newborn as they still have antibodies from their mother. However, this immunity wears off after a few months. Hence, these babies will not have anymore antibodies that can protect against many diseases from their mother such as diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, polio, hepatitis B and Hib. This is why it is vital to vaccinate the child before getting exposed to a disease.
Children who get more vaccines do not get sick more often compared to children who get fewer or had vaccines spaced out more than recommended. It is true that there is more vaccination needed for children compared to in the past. It is understandable why some parents might be worried if vaccines overload their child’s immune system. However, there are no studies showing childhood immunisation is unsafe. Plus, vaccines nowadays have been developed with fewer antigen meaning less risk for complications although the number of vaccinations increase.
Antigens in vaccines are inactivated or dead viruses or bacteria, whole or part of the pathogens and other molecules that stimulate the immune system. When a baby is born, the immune system is ready to respond to the many antigens in the environment and the selected antigens in vaccines. Thus, there is no such thing as vaccine overload as the immune system is already able to cope with the many antigens everyday. In fact, if a child was given 11 vaccines all at the time, it would only use a thousandth of their immune system.
Some may argue why should they vaccinate their baby if their baby already responds to the many antigens in the environment and their baby can develop the immune system. The problem with this thinking is, once a baby is exposed to serious disease such as measles or polio, the child will face great complications that either kill them or leave them with disability for life. It is unfair to assume antigen in the environment works the same as in vaccines. Antigen in vaccines help to stimulate the body’s immune system to recognise the infection and build strong immunity against it. The next time or in future when the baby faces a similar infection, the body is already ready to eliminate the infection.
A combination vaccine of two or more different vaccines have been made into a single shot. This helps to reduce the number of shots a baby needs to receive in clinics or hospitals and helps to reduce the number of visits to the doctor. This means it makes it easier to make sure their child gets all the vaccinations as recommended in the immunisation schedule introduced by the Malaysian National Immunisation Programme (NIP). Getting several vaccines at a time can save your time and money. It is also less traumatic for the baby.
It is worth noting that vaccination does come with side effects. Remember, side effects are much less than the benefit of the vaccination. Common side effects are mild fever, inflammation of the injection site such as redness, swelling or tenderness and irritability. If side effects or any other unwanted symptoms bothers you or causes great discomfort to the baby, you should talk to the doctor.
In essence, immunisation stops 2 to 3 million deaths a year worldwide and prevents lifelong disabilities. Parents should not be worried that their baby’s immune system will be overloaded with vaccines as there is no evidence confirming this. On the contrary, vaccinations help to protect a child from many infectious diseases and to have a good immune system. You can always talk to a doctor or a healthcare provider about vaccinations.
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