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Vaccinations can help protect your child from serious diseases caused by germs. Vaccinations are also called vaccines, immunizations, needles, or shots.

Vaccinations work by boosting the immune system’s ability to fight certain infections. The vaccination teaches your child’s immune system to recognize and fight specific germs so that when they are exposed to them, he or she has a much lower risk of getting sick.

Your child’s immune system responds to the antigens (bits of germs that have been weakened or killed) in the vaccine by making antibodies to fight the germs (each antibody is “trained” to fight a specific germ) and memory cells to remember the germs in case they encounter them in the future. Vaccinations are given by injections (needles), usually into the child’s upper arm or leg.

Some vaccines for children need a series of doses (usually 2 to 4 doses) to reach their full effectiveness. This is called a “primary series.” For some vaccines, a “booster” dose is needed months or years after the primary dose(s) to refresh the immune system’s memory and maintain protection. If your child misses a vaccine dose, they’ll need “catch-up” doses (also called “supplemental” doses) to ensure that they are protected. Your child may also need a catch-up dose if a new vaccine becomes available after your child has already passed the age when it is normally given.

Immunizations can save your child’s life.

Because of advances in medical science, your child can be protected against more diseases than ever before.

Vaccination is very safe and effective.

Vaccines are only given to children after a long and careful review by scientists, doctors, and healthcare professionals.

Immunization protects others you care about.

On babies are too young to be protected by vaccination, others may not be able to receive certain vaccinations due to severe allergies, weakened immune systems from conditions like leukemia, or other reasons. To help keep them safe, it is important that you and your children who are able to get vaccinated are fully immunized.  This not only protects your family, but also helps prevent the spread of these diseases to your friends and loved ones.

Immunizations can save your family time and money.

A child with a vaccine-preventable disease can be denied attendance at schools or child care facilities. Some vaccine-preventable diseases can result in prolonged disabilities and can take a financial toll because of lost time at work, medical bills or long-term disability care.

Immunization protects future generations.

Vaccines have reduced and, in some cases, eliminated many diseases that killed or severely disabled people just a few generations ago.

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