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What is childhood immunization?

Charles J. Sophy, MD
Adolescent Medicine

Child Immunization is designed to protect against serious illnesses ranging from polio and tetanus to measles, mumps, and the seasonal flu. Many people consider them the most important part of well-child checkups.

Immunizations are vaccines made of either weakened or "killed" versions of the bacteria or virus that causes a particular disease. When these altered viruses and bacteria are injected or taken orally, the immune system mounts an attack that stimulates the body to produce antibodies.  Once produced, the antibodies remain active in the body, ready to fight off the real disease.

Childhood immunization is the use of vaccines (shots) given to protect children from life-threatening, infectious diseases. Immunization is based on the idea that if the body comes in contact with disease-causing germs (usually just bits of the germs, not always a live germ), the body builds up immune cells to later attack it. If the person is later exposed to the disease, the body's immune system recognizes the infection and fights it off. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.