Childrens Health > Immunizations
There are so many immunizations today; many parents cannot keep track of them all. It doesn’t help that they are all called by their initials. When you hear your child is getting a DTaP, that description is not all that informative.
In all immunizations there are either weak or dead disease-producing organisms (called vaccines) or poisons that those organisms produce that have been made harmless by heat or chemical means (called toxoids).
Here is a listing of the immunizations your child will be getting and just what they are for:
DTaP – This immunization is for Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis (commonly know as ‘whooping cough’). Containing diphtheria and tetanus toxoids and pertussis vaccine, it is preferred over the older form of the immunization called DTP.
It is recommended that all children get this immunization at the ages of two, four, six, fifteen and eighteen months and between four and six years. There are circumstances when doctors recommend the pertussis vaccine be omitted, like if your child has had seizures, has a neurological disease, or had serious allergic reactions to previous DTaP shots.
IPV or OPV – This immunization is for Polio. The IPV form is an inactive vaccine injected directly into the bloodstream, while OPV is a live form of the disease administered by mouth.
The schedules for IPV and OPV immunizations vary, but some form of the immunization is scheduled to be given at two months, four months, twelve to eighteen months and four to six years. With OPV, there is a slight risk that another person living in the same house with the vaccinated child might contract polio. With both IPV and OPV, there is a very slight risk of paralysis.
MMR – This immunization is for Measles, Mumps and Rubella (also known as ‘German Measles’). The MMR is a combination vaccine of all three diseases in one immunization. Although you were probably not immunized for these diseases as a child, your children surely will.
It is recommended that children get this immunization a bit later than some other immunizations, at between twelve and fifteen months and then between 4 to 6 years or 11 to 12 years, since children under one year of age do not seem to develop total immunity to these diseases before one year.
The MMR vaccine has many common reactions in children, ranging from fever and rash (from the measles vaccine), aching and swelling of the joints (from the rubella vaccine), to swollen glands (from the mumps vaccine). These reactions are normally mild. It is also a possibility that the MMR is responsible for encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), but studies are not conclusive on this. Because of these common reactions, you should never give this immunization to children who have anything but a mild cold.
VZV – This immunization is for Varicella (commonly known as ‘chicken pox’). A relatively new vaccine being used, it is recommended for use on a healthy child over one year of age. Whether a second shot will need to be given when the child is older is unknown at this time. No serious side effects have ever been reported when using this immunization.
Hib – This immunization is for the deadly hemophilus influenzae b bacteria that cause a wide range of serious infections in infants and young children. Hib bacteria are responsible for such infections as meningitis, epiglottitis, septicemia (infection of the blood), cellulites (tissue infections), teomyelitis (infection of bones) and pericarditis (infection of the heart membrane).
The Hib vaccine has few, if any, reactions in children who have been immunized. It is recommended that immunizations occur at two, four and six months with an additional dose being administered between 12 and 15 months.
HBV – This immunization is for Hepatitis B. The vaccine for hepatitis b was originally administered to adults, but the efforts against this serious infection in adults were not very successful.
Now, it is likely that an infant at birth will be given the first dose of the HBV vaccine. Additional doses at two to four months, and six to eighteen months are recommended.
The last immunization that you might be considering for your child is the Flu immunization. This vaccine is not recommended for children who are not at high risk of contracting this mild disease.
All immunizations can cause mild reactions, but on rare occasions serious side effects can occur. Be sure to watch your child carefully after any immunizations and call your doctor if anything concerns you.