August is National Immunization Awareness Month.
In my circle of moms, however, there are several who oppose the routine vaccination schedule given to children. But, given my experience in the medical and scientific fields, I support the use of vaccines and hold true that vaccines save lives.
Vaccines work by introducing an innocuous amount of an attenuated antigen into the tissue of an individual. This stimulates the person's own immune system to make antibodies against a given pathogen. Then, if a person is exposed to the pathogen (and sometimes even related pathogens) in the future, the body's cells will essentially "remember" what to do to be able to successfully fight off the infection. This remembrance is what we call immunity. Basically, a vaccine helps to eliminate the element of surprise in the arsenal of disease. If your body knows what to expect, then it is better prepared to fight back.
Below are conclusions in a couple of the areas of concern among mothers. I have included the relevant links to articles from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for your reference.
*Studies have concluded that vaccines are not a risk factor for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
*Research does not indicate a link between thimerosal, a preservative used in some vaccines, and autism. Since 2001 however, with the exception of some influenza (flu) vaccines, the use of thimerosal has been discontinued as a preservative in the routinely recommended childhood vaccines. It is important to note that autism rates have risen during this same time period, which is the opposite of what would be expected if thimerosal had caused autism.
Below are the current immunization schedules as set forth by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and likely required by your State Department of Health for school and daycare:
2010 Childhood Immunization Schedule (Age 0-6 years)