The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Health & Fitness

August 30, 2013

Speaking Of Health: Cold or flu, get the facts about vaccines

Whether it’s the common cold or a strain of the flu, no one enjoys getting sick. It goes without saying that more serious illnesses not only make you feel terrible, but they can present major risks to your health.

Fortunately, vaccines have proven to be extremely effective in preventing a host of diseases and conditions.

As children approach the start of school – and since August is National Immunization Awareness Month – now is the time to increase your knowledge about vaccinations.

Q. Is there a difference between the terms vaccination and immunization?

A. Yes. A vaccination uses dead or weakened versions of bacteria or viruses to protect patients against diseases and conditions.

Immunization is the method by which an individual develops immunity to these diseases. This happens via a vaccination or from infection with that bacteria or virus.

Q. Are vaccinations really that important?

A. Vaccinations are very important, especially for young children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), infants receive some passive immunity from their mothers after birth.

However, these immunities wear off during the child’s first year and are ineffective against diseases like pertussis (whooping cough).

Without vaccinations, young children’s bodies often can’t fight diseases. This can lead to serious complications and even death.

Q. Should I space my child’s vaccinations out?

A. There is no evidence that suggests it’s more effective for children to receive vaccinations in intervals.

In fact, children are able to respond to multiple vaccine exposures at the same time, without adverse effects. Studies show that vaccinations given in a group are just as effective as individual shots.

Q. Is there a link between vaccinations and autism?

A. No. The study that reported a connection between vaccinations and autism had poor statistical data and was completely refuted by the Lancet medical journal in 2010.

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