Vaccination is one of the best ways parents can protect infants, children, and teens from potentially harmful, and sometimes fatal, diseases. Since Edward Jenner first tested a method to protect against smallpox in 1796, scientific knowledge has evolved over decades to make vaccines a valuable weapon in the control of serious childhood diseases.
In the early 20th century, routinely recommended vaccines had been developed to protect against the highly contagious whooping cough (1914), diphtheria (1926), and tetanus (1938). These three vaccines were combined in 1948 and given as the DTP vaccine. In the 1950s, parents were so fearful of the polio epidemics that occurred each summer that inventor Jonas Salk became a national hero when his polio vaccine was licensed in 1955.
More vaccines to help prevent childhood diseases followed in the 1960s, notably those for measles, mumps, and rubella. By 1972, the smallpox vaccine had proven so successful in eradicating the disease that it was no longer recommended for use. And the first influenza vaccine was added to the recommended vaccination schedule in 1989.
As more vaccines have been developed and improved, an annual update to the childhood immunization schedules has become essential for healthcare providers. It includes changes and detailed information about who should receive each vaccine, their age(s), number of doses, time between doses, and/or the use of combination vaccines. The schedules are reviewed by committees of experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Family Physicians.
Today, there are dozens of recommended vaccines and boosters for children, starting at birth. Before leaving the hospital or birthing center, babies receive the first of three doses of the Hepatitis B vaccine. From the age of 1 to 2 months through age 6, children follow a regular vaccination schedule to help them develop immunity from vaccine-preventable diseases ranging from chicken pox and tetanus to the flu. Check with your healthcare provider to learn what immunizations are recommended for your children and be sure to keep them up to date.
While there is much debate among parents and healthcare professionals over the effectiveness of vaccines and whether or not they are safe for children, history has shown that they are a powerful tool in the fight against disease. As the world continues to seek ways to control the COVID-19 pandemic, we look forward to the approval of vaccines for children so they can receive the level of protection they need to live normal lives – and their families can breathe a sigh of relief.
Dorson Vocational Training Institute is committed to meeting the ever-increasing need for healthcare professionals by providing exceptional healthcare career training to the communities in which we live and work.