Ever since Edward Jenner first espoused the benefits of vaccination after discovering that injecting a young boy with the cowpox virus protected the child against deadly smallpox, vaccination has been a vital part of standard modern healthcare.
Immunization from diseases which, historically, have destroyed the lives of millions of people is one of the major benefits of living in the twenty first century. The fact that vaccinations are often free for children or low-cost for adults, is an added bonus.
New Born Babies
Vaccination for new born babies is recommended by doctors and other healthcare professionals worldwide. While the baby is protected inside the mother’s womb, they have a natural shield from serious viruses by the amniotic fluid. However as soon as birth occurs, the child is instantly exposed to a multitude of germs. Every visitor who holds the baby is a potential source of bacteria. As the baby’s immune system is still developing at this stage, it is vital that they are started on an immediate immunization program. Most babies will receive their Hepatitis B1 and B2 shots at birth. Vaccinations against diphtheria and tetanus follow at two months, with a booster at four months.
Ages 2-10 Years
When the child is older and begins to go to school, they are released from the familiar home environment and enter a whole new germ pool. Children are most vulnerable to catching contagious illnesses between the ages of two and ten. Vaccination against key diseases are often offered to children at school or by their doctor. Two of the major vaccinations given to children protects them against measles (as well as mumps and rubella) and polio. Booster shots should be administrated promptly on reminder, in order to maintain the vaccination’s efficacy.
Adulthood Vaccinations are also important for adults. When one falls ill as an adult, the immune system is often fully occupied with defending the body against the enemy bacteria. This leaves the body vulnerable to additional viruses and bacteria. This is an ideal time to get any additional immunization shots – allowing the white blood cells of the immune system to concentrate on fortifying the system against foreign bodies.
When traveling abroad there is more to be concerned about than just sun tan lotion and skincare products. Foreign countries can often be host to a variety of diseases and bacteria unfamiliar to a newcomer to the area. Although the indigenous population may have built up resistance to this disease, it is vital for any travellers to check with their doctor to make sure that they have had the correct vaccinations before they get on the plane! For example, a vacation to South Africa would require a vaccination against Typhoid and Hepatitis A.
It is worth mentioning that countries vary with regard to their access to vaccinations. Residents in more rural areas often have to travel many miles to get to a hospital which offers vaccinations. Recently, aid programs have begun to sponsor the building of local immunization clinics, or ‘mobile doctors’ who travel around these remote locations to administer injections. Those who reside in cities are often able to gain vaccinations from reasonable convenient areas. It is important to check the location of healthcare providers before travel is initiated.