While Alana is caring for her newest family member, we at The Immunization Partnership wanted to help pitch in! Please enjoy this guest post by TIP’s Community Outreach Coordinator: Robyn Correll Carlyle, MPH.
My sister just had a baby. My niece – who I like to call “Lil’ bit” – is her first child, and so naturally, I try to help. I babysit, read to her, make funny faces on FaceTime, and oh, did I mention? I’m fiercely protective. Especially when it comes to vaccines.
I’ve read up on all kinds of things small babies can catch, and there was no way I was going to let Lil’ Bit get sick with something preventable. Not on my watch!
Being the geeky aunt that I am, I sent my sister a personalized vaccination schedule based on Lil’ Bit’s birthdate (you can make one, too, by going to the CDC’s website).
The schedule I sent her looked a lot like this one.
My sister is very supportive of vaccines and had planned on vaccinating prior to my bringing it up. But after taking a moment to register what she was reading, she turned to me with her eyes wide, “That’s so many shots! Can her little body really handle them all?”
Working in immunizations, we get this question a lot. So what did I tell her?
Absolutely it can! I know it seems like a lot, but you’d be surprised what even the tiniest immune system is capable of handling. From the minute babies are born, they are bombarded by thousands of viruses and bacteria, so they have to be prepared. Their bodies might be small, but they can fight off many pathogens (the germs that cause disease) at the same time. Of course, they aren’t able to fight off everything, and that’s why we need vaccination.
Compared to what kids face every day, the amount of antigen* in vaccines is actually very, very small. But that small amount is all they need. The tiny exposure to antigen through vaccination is enough to help them start to build up immunity against 14 potentially dangerous diseases.
A great explanation of how the body’s immune system can handle the recommended doses of vaccines is presented in this video by Academic Earth. Check it out:
* Antigens jumpstart the immune system into making antibodies