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The Changing World of Childhood Immunizations

by Iris Graville
July/August 2010
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Article Link: http://www.exchangepress.com/article/the-changing-world-of-childhood-immunizations/5019414/

Theories and practices in early childhood education continually evolve, and the same is true in the health field. Such change is especially apparent in the area of childhood immunizations. Since vaccination to prevent smallpox was first started in the late 1700s, recommendations for which immunizations to give when have been revised frequently. Early childhood programs are in a unique position to educate and assist families regarding this effective method of preventing serious illnesses. Fortunately, much information and many tools are available to support early childhood professionals in this important public health effort.

How vaccines work

During last year’s H1N1 influenza outbreak, information about immunizations was in the news nearly every day. However, many people remain confused about how vaccines work to protect us from illness.

When germs (bacteria or viruses) enter our bodies, a normal, healthy immune system recognizes them as ‘foreign’ invaders, or antigens, and produces millions of antibodies. These antibodies’ first job is to help destroy the germs that make us sick. Their second job is to protect us from future infections by becoming ‘memory cells,’ which prevent re-infection when they encounter that disease in the future. This is immunity, and it’s why most people get diseases like measles or ...

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