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health and wellness
Dec 21, 2020
Immunization Guide – Getting Started With Vaccines

Why Are Vaccines So Important?

Vaccines are a way of providing the body with immunity to diseases in order to prevent the infection, rather than to treat it after exposure. There are many diseases that have been identified and proven so harmful to the general public that vaccines, also known as immunizations, were developed in order to help prevent future generations from catching the disease and suffering its ill effects. A vaccine for a particular disease or group of diseases helps encourage the body’s immune system to resist these specific types of infections.

Everyone is born with an immune system that helps fight germs by producing natural antibodies to protect the body from these foreign invaders. However, everyone’s bodies do not come equipped with naturally developed antibodies for all diseases without first being exposed to the disease itself. That is where the development and implementation of vaccines comes into play so that they can provide immunity to the greater population without everyone needing to be exposed to the germs first.

Vaccines are important to the overall health and well-being of the community. There are some people in your community who are not able to get vaccinations for health reasons, or they are undergoing certain health treatments that make them more susceptible to disease. Each person getting vaccines who are healthy and able help protect others who are unable to do so. Advances in science and medicine have lead to the development of vaccinations against harmful and even deadly diseases and help to protect current and future generations of people more than ever before. In fact, the more people who are vaccinated against a disease, the less chance a disease has of taking root in a community and harming people.

What Do Vaccines Do?

Vaccines actually contain parts of the disease germs themselves, called antigens, that prompt the body to develop an immune response, called antibodies. Antigens that are included in a vaccination are either dead or severely weakened so they do not actually cause the disease in anyone. For example, the polio vaccine includes antigens from the polio virus, which are weakened enough to not cause polio in a person, but strong enough to make the body have an immune response.

Vaccines are a safer way to be exposed to a disease and develop immunity to it inside your body without having to actually experience the disease itself. This proactive approach to preventing harmful and even deadly diseases in the body also helps teach the body how to respond if germs from the disease do get inside your body. If you have already been vaccinated against a disease then your body has developed antibodies to avoid infection.

The antibodies developed inside the body as an immune response to the vaccine train the body how to react against that disease in the future. Whenever your body is developing an immune response to a virus, you may experience symptoms. It is possible to experience minor symptoms like a fever shortly after receiving a vaccine, but these are to be expected as the body naturally builds up an immunity. It is important to understand that vaccines are never introducing the full disease into the body, only an imitation of the infection.

Who Are Vaccines For?

Most people assume that children are the only ones who need to be vaccinated, however, immunizations help protect everyone from serious illnesses like the flu, measles, and pneumonia! The American Academy of Pediatrics—a professional organization of primary care pediatricians dedicated to the health, safety, and well-being of infants, children, and young adults—has recommended an immunization schedule by age that has been researched to be the most effective and safe way to protect children from disease. The immunizations are carefully timed to provide protection when children are most vulnerable, and when the immunizations will produce the strongest response from the child’s immune system. Below is the schedule of immunizations by age as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and TrueCare pediatric providers’.

The immunization schedule goes from infancy to the teenage years of your child. To assist with their weak immune system, a newborn will start with a Hepatitis B immunization, and then get a second dose when they are 1 month old. From there, the immunization schedule continues through childhood to prevent disease and improve the immune system. Center for Disease Control (CDC), recommends that by age two, children have an immunization schedule that protects from fourteen diseases. At TrueCare, we have a detailed immunization schedule, and we encourage you to reach out with questions or to schedule an appointment whether this is the first immunization, or your child needs to catch up.

loving mother with her baby girl

The Recommended Immunization Schedule

Infant Immunizations

Infant immunizations are very important to protect newborns from disease. The reason vaccines are given and recommended is because the diseases they are protecting from can make the infant very sick and can even be deadly. By protecting your infant from disease and giving them the ability to fight back against infections, they’ll be healthier and more comfortable.

Providing immunizations for your infant is an important aspect of providing a healthy baseline for their childhood and beyond. There are a number of diseases that can be prevented with simple vaccinations and TrueCare wants to help the community by providing access to important vaccinations. Having your child vaccinated is an important part of their early months and years. Make sure to talk with a pediatrician to learn more about vaccinations and how they can help your child.

Infant vaccinations are spread out across the 24 month period to avoid administering too many vaccinations at one time. For example, your newborn will likely receive a HepB vaccination first, typically within the first 6 months after birth. Every couple of months, more vaccinations will be administered in order to boost the infant’s immune system against various diseases that would otherwise threaten their life. For some families, it can feel a little overwhelming to remember all the vaccinations and at what time they are administered. At TrueCare, your pediatrician will be able to remind you about upcoming vaccinations and keep your infant on track for staying healthy and warding off unwanted diseases.

Infant Immunization Schedule

Your newborn will receive one vaccination given shortly after birth that will protect them against Hepatitis B. As soon a baby is born, they are exposed to a significant amount of germs and are most vulnerable to disease. Following an immunization schedule ensures they are developing natural immune responses and protection against diseases in tandem with their growth and development. Newborn babies are actually immune to some diseases at birth because they received antibodies in utero and this immunity can last for their first few months of life. However, some antibodies are not passed from mother to baby and require immunizations beginning at 6 weeks old.

At 6-8 weeks old, your infant will receive vaccines to prevent against polio, tetanus, whooping cough, rotavirus, and more. Some vaccines are actually a combination of vaccines in order to reduce the number of shots. Because multiple vaccines are administered in the same visit, your doctor will likely administer them in multiple areas, such as an arm and a leg. Multiple vaccines given in the same visit are scientifically proven to be safe and just as effective as when administered individually. Following the recommended immunization schedule of multiple vaccines in one visit can also allow for a less traumatic experience for your infant, in addition to saving you time and money.

At 3-4 months old, your infant will receive a second round of vaccinations for those diseases. Some vaccines for infants are actually split into multiple visits throughout their first year of life, such as the polio vaccine, which is administered in four doses at separate ages. Whenever your infant receives a vaccination, they may experience tenderness at the site of the injection and may develop a fever shortly after. These are common responses to immunizations and not a cause for concern, though you can always follow up with your pediatrician if you are concerned.

At 6-9 months old, your infant will receive five immunizations with the third round of doses for the previous diseases covered. Depending on the time of year, your doctor may also recommend your baby receive their first flu shot. If it is flu season, then you and anyone in regular contact with your baby should also receive a flu shot to help prevent against the flu.

At 12-15 months, your baby will finish up the fourth dose of some immunizations and begin vaccines for common preventable diseases such as chickenpox and tuberculosis. Again, depending on the time of year, your doctor may recommend a flu shot. Your baby will also receive their first dose of the Hepatitis A vaccine and will need to follow up 6 months afterward for the second and final dose.

Do you have an infant that needs vaccinations? Are you expecting a child and don’t know where to begin when it comes to vaccinations? Contact us at TrueCare call (760) 736-6767 to learn more about vaccinations or to schedule an appointment for your infant. Don’t delay on getting life-saving vaccinations for your child.

At TrueCare, we’re here for you.

Close up of a pediatrician vaccinating his patient

School-Age Children Immunizations

Vaccinations are a requirement for all school-aged children in California who attend school outside of the home. Vaccinations provide individual protection for a period of time so that individuals are not infected with particular diseases or illnesses, as well as offer herd immunity. Herd immunity means that a community as a whole is more protected from a particular disease, which makes it harder for diseases to become widespread within that particular community, lowering the likelihood of people contracting the illness. This mindset also protects individuals who cannot be vaccinated, such as newborns or those with medical concerns or chronic illness.

The state of California passed the vaccination requirement law based on the belief that 90% of a population needs to be immunized in order to protect the community from an outbreak of disease.  Since vaccines are thought to make individuals immune or less susceptible to contracting contagious diseases, it is recommended for many, and now required for California students, to be immunized against particular diseases before they begin school.

Some schools will require certain vaccinations to be administered before a child is accepted into the school. Ask your pediatrician or the school you want to enroll your child in for required vaccinations.

School-Age Children Immunizations Schedule

At every age, it is important for your child to receive a flu shot each year. The flu shot helps children avoid the flu, though they may develop the flu from a new strand. In these cases, having the flu shot can help reduce the symptoms of the flu for your child. Getting the flu shot each year also helps manage community spread, especially if there are infants or immunocompromised individuals in the home.

At 4-6 years old, your child will receive their final doses of three vaccines administered throughout their infancy. One of these vaccines is for chickenpox, which helps protect both your child and others in the family and community from chickenpox. Because the chickenpox vaccine is less than 30 years old, there are still some parents, grandparents, and other community members who may not have received the vaccine and did not contract chickenpox when they were younger, meaning they would also benefit from the vaccine.

At 10-11 years old, your child will receive another vaccination for diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough. This vaccination is slightly different than the one they received in infancy and are designed for adolescents. It is commonly referred to as a booster dose because it helps boost immunity to these diseases that may have diminished over the years. These vaccines will provide renewed protection for your child well into adulthood.

At 11-15 years old, your child will receive vaccines for meningitis and the first of three doses for HPV, the human papillomavirus vaccine. The next two doses are scheduled for 2 months and 6 months after the initial dose. The HPV vaccine is safe and effective in providing protection against certain cancers and infections caused by HPV. At 16 years old, your child will receive the second dose of the vaccine for meningitis.

TrueCare offers a variety of services to residents in North County San Diego and Riverside County, including child wellness checks, dental services, behavioral health services, and immunizations for children.

If your child needs to be brought up to date on his or her vaccinations and if you need any other health screenings or sports physicals done, it is best to get these completed as early as possible. Many medical offices are flooded with students in the last few weeks of summer and the first few weeks of the school year, so it may be harder to get the necessary appointments or vaccinations at this time. Make an appointment early or come visit any TrueCare location so that we can help you get your child’s required immunizations for school and any other medical paperwork done for the upcoming school year.

Frequently Asked Questions About Immunizations:

Are vaccines safe?

Vaccines are very safe. The United States has systems in place to ensure our vaccine supply is safe. The side effects are going to be very mild and are mainly caused by the injection. There may be a little pain and swelling where the immunization was given. Some infants will get fussy and others may get a very low fever. But these side effects do not last long, and you’ll have peace of mind knowing your children are being protected from disease.

Aren’t most of the diseases we vaccinate for gone?

While it may seem silly to vaccinate for a disease that hasn’t been around in decades, trust that it’s still important to vaccinate. Often, there are still a few rare cases a year in the US or other countries still suffer from the diseases and they could resurface here from international travelers. It’s much better to continue the immunization schedule versus face a wide outbreak due to dropping the vaccine from the schedule.

Can I delay infant immunizations until they are older?

You shouldn’t delay infant immunizations because the schedule is designed to protect the newborn from disease before they have the chance to come in contact with it. There are no known benefits to delaying your child’s vaccinations. However, if you have already delayed the immunization, then you can still schedule an appointment to catch-up. The primary reason to begin giving vaccines early is to reduce the risk that infants especially are susceptible to.

Does it matter where I go for newborn immunizations?

To ensure the safest and most sanitary experience for your infant, make sure you go to an established health center that offers pediatric care services. At TrueCare, our pediatric center professionals understand the importance of newborn immunizations and we provide our customers with the best care. We take the health of your newborn as seriously as you do, and we are committed to your entire family’s health.

How Can I Get My Kids Up-to-Date on School Immunizations?

If you do determine that your child is missing some immunizations that they need to attend school, you should take care of getting them up-to-date sooner rather than later. School will begin before we know it and it’s better to get all of the logistics taken care of sooner rather than later. You can contact your nearby kids’ care pediatrics office, your local pediatrician, or the county health services department, like an TrueCare office. Our offices can serve as your primary care doctor as well as your child’s pediatric physician, and we can do general wellness checkups required for school admission and sports activities, as well as give immunizations and take care of your entire family when you’re sick.

Particularly if your child is significantly behind on his or her school immunizations, you should make an appointment as soon as possible to get them caught up. Since all required vaccinations have multiple doses that are needed, if your child is very behind, it can take some time to get caught up. Most vaccinations require a certain period of time to pass between receiving the different doses, so it’s best to start earlier rather than later in bringing your child up to date on required immunizations.

What are the risks of not vaccinating?

If you do not follow recommended immunization guidelines and delay vaccinations, your child is at greater risk of getting the disease and experiencing severe symptoms and side effects. For example, if you wait until the week before your child starts at daycare to get their vaccines, their immune system may not have time to develop all the necessary protections before they are exposed to a large number of new germs in this new environment. Your child can develop a disease that is preventable by a vaccine and they can also spread the disease to other people who may be vulnerable, like infants and those who are unable to get immunizations due to weak immune systems. Some diseases, such as measles, are so contagious that community spread can be dangerous and life-threatening.

Required Immunizations for School in California

Depending on where you live and what school your child attends, the requirements may be slightly different, but here are the state of California’s list of required immunizations for school.

  • Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis – 5 doses total
  • Polio – 4 doses total
  • Hepatitis B – 3 doses
  • Measles, Mumps, & Rubella – 2 doses
  • Varicella – 2 doses

Immunization chart for children

There may be some differences in the number of doses needed based on the child’s age at the time of school admission, particularly if the child was previously enrolled in a school in another state or previously had a Personal Beliefs Exemption on file. However, this is a baseline of required immunizations for school in California, and parents should discuss any questions, concerns, or specific requirements with their child’s school for more information. Students are also encouraged to be vaccinated for the flu each year, though this is not a requirement in most places.

Be sure to plan ahead and get your child’s required immunizations for school done early so that you have everything you need before the school year begins. Our caring staff at TrueCare loves serving the community and looks forward to your visit. Give us a call (760) 736-6767 to schedule an appointment or come on in to the nearest TrueCare location today!

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Extraordinary care with a heart.
Jessica L. Randalls, PA
Primary Care
“I enjoy getting to know my patients and it is important to me that they feel heard, understood and involved in their healthcare.”

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