August is Child Health Month, and according to Lizeth Kruger, National Clinic Manager at Dis-Chem, child immunisation should be a main topic of discussion among families.
"Vaccines are one of the greatest medical achievements in human history and have eradicated some of the world's deadliest diseases, so by giving your children the right protection from birth, it stands them in good stead for a healthy childhood," says Kruger.
Preventing diseases before they occur is crucial, and immunising your children is an effective and simple way to do this.
"We are 100% aligned with the Department of Health's viewpoint that it is absolutely necessary for people to be vaccinated as it will afford children a healthy society to grow up in," Kruger notes.
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A clear vaccine regime
Children should follow a clear vaccine regime and should be vaccinated at birth, six weeks, ten weeks, 14 weeks, six months, twelve months, 18 months, six years, nine years, and 12 years old, an.
Kruger explains that since the introduction of often-used vaccines, rates of diseases such as polio, hepatitis B, rubella, diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), and meningitis have declined by 90%.
According to the World Health Organisation, vaccinations are why more than 20 life-threatening diseases can be prevented, and currently, 2-3 million deaths are prevented yearly.
How vaccines work
Vaccines work by stimulating the immune system to produce antibodies, exactly like it would if exposed to the disease.
Simply put, immunity is the body's way of preventing disease.
The immune system a child is born with recognises germs that enter the body as foreign invaders and produces what the body needs to combat them; these are known as antibodies.
After initial infection, a child's immune system produces antibodies designed to fight it. This process takes time, and usually, the immune system cannot work fast enough to prevent the antigen from causing disease so that the child may feel sick.
However, the immune system remembers that antigen even if it re-enters the body years down the line, causing the immune system to produce antibodies fast enough to keep it from causing disease a second time.
A vaccine is manufactured to have the same antigen as the actual disease (the "code" that the body uses to identify the disease).
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When vaccinated, the immune system is triggered to recognise the specific disease and respond more effectively, preventing it from developing or greatly reducing its severity.
Immunising children also help protect community health, especially those who cannot be immunised (children too young to be vaccinated or who for medical reasons can't receive certain vaccines ) and the minority who remain unresponsive to specific vaccines.
A healthy child also means taking less time off from work, and more importantly, it prevents possible hospitalisation and premature deaths.
Check online for your nearest pharmacy to book your child's next vaccination.
Submitted to Parent24 by Dis-Chem.
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