How Do Vaccines Protect Children from Diseases?
Each child is born with a full immune system composed of cells, glands, organs, and fluids that are located throughout his or her body to fight invading bacteria and viruses. The immune system recognizes germs that enter the body as "foreign" invaders, or antigens, and produces protein substances called antibodies to fight them. A normal, healthy immune system has the ability to produce millions of these antibodies to defend against thousands of attacks every day, doing it so naturally that people are not even aware they are being attacked and defended so often (Whitney, 1990). Many antibodies disappear once they have destroyed the invading antigens, but the cells involved in antibody production remain and become "memory cells." Memory cells remember the original antigen and then defend against it when the antigen attempts to re-infect a person, even after many decades. This protection is called immunity.
Vaccines contain the same antigens or parts of antigens that cause diseases, but the antigens in vaccines are either killed or greatly weakened. When they are injected into fatty tissue or muscle, vaccine antigens are not strong enough to produce the symptoms and signs of the disease but are strong enough for the immune system to produce antibodies against them (Tortora and Anagnostakos, 1981). The memory cells that remain prevent re-infection when they encounter that disease in the future. Thus, through vaccination, children develop immunity without suffering from the actual diseases that vaccines prevent.
Prior to being approved by the FDA, all vaccines undergo rigorous safety testing. This includes testing to ensure all the ingredients are safe, as well as the safety of administering them together. Even after a vaccine is approved by the FDA, the work continues. Vaccines are continually monitored to ensure patient safety is never compromised. Check out the facts on vaccine safety.
Schedules and Recommendations
Vaccines For Children Program - Parent Information
The Vaccines For Children (VFC) program is a publically funded entitlement program to ensure that all Colorado children receive the necessary vaccines, regardless of their parents’ ability to pay. The Colorado Immunization Program provides childhood and adolescent vaccines at no cost to providers enrolled in the VFC program, who can then offer the free vaccine to qualified children. Children who are eligible for VFC vaccines are entitled to receive pediatric vaccines that are recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. To determine if your child qualifies for this program, please follow the steps below.
Infants and children are not the only ones who need to be vaccinated. Adolescents are also at risk for vaccine preventable diseases. Even if the adolescent was fully vaccinated during their infant and childhood, there are additional vaccines he or she needs during the pre-teen and teen years.
Current Topic: Meningitis Disease and Vaccine
Adolescent Vaccine Recommendations
Answers For Parents, Pre-Teens, and Adolescents
Q: Which Vaccines do Pre-teens/Adolescents Need?
A: Click here for a list of recommended vaccines.
Q: Why do Pre-teens and Adolescents Need Immunizations?
A: Read more about how vaccines help to prevent serious and sometimes deadly diseases.
Q: Are there any Adolescent-Friendly Immunization Websites?
A: Check out www.GetVaxed.org sponsored by PKIDs (Parents of Kids with Infectious Diseases)
Information For Healthcare Professionals
Vaccines aren’t just for kids. Different vaccinations are needed at different stages in life. Here are just a few of the reasons adults need to be vaccinated too.
Information For Travelers
When planning international travel, make sure you are protected. Your risk of becoming ill while traveling depends in part on where you are traveling, the length of stay, activities while traveling, your health, and your vaccine history. It is important for travelers to seek consultation from a qualified health professional to determine which vaccines are needed, based on the travel destination. Most vaccines take time to become effective in your body and some need to be given in a series over several days or weeks. Be sure to schedule your vaccinations well in advance of the scheduled trip (4 - 6 weeks prior to departure) to allow your body enough time to build immunity.
Young adults moving into a dormitory environment require additional vaccines to further protect them against vaccine-preventable diseases. Visit the adolescent section of this webpage for more information on vaccines to protect young adults.
Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):