Immunization of Children

vaccination

vaccination, means of producing immunity against pathogens, such as viruses and bacteria, by the introduction of live, killed, or altered antigens that stimulate the body to produce antibodies against more dangerous forms. Vaccination was used in ancient times in China, India, and Persia, and was introduced in the West in 1796 by Edward Jenner. Jenner demonstrated that rubbing or scraping the cowpox virus (the term vaccine comes from the Latin vacca, cow) into the skin produced only a local lesion but was sufficient to stimulate the production of antibodies that would defend the body against the more virulent smallpox.

Vaccination has eradicated smallpox worldwide and prevents such diseases as cholera, rabies, and typhoid fever. Vaccines work with the immune system's ability to recognize and destroy foreign proteins (antigens) that it determines are "nonself." Scientists are using this same principle to help the body recognize antigens peculiar to cancer cells. It is also applied in an experimental birth control vaccine that tricks the immune system into believing that human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), a hormone secreted by a developing fertilized egg, is foreign, thus inactivating it and inducing menstruation even if fertilization has occurred. Vaccines are also used to control animal pests by conferring temporary infertility.

Vaccination programs have been notably successful in the United States. For example, in 1998 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported only one case of poliomyelitis, one of diphtheria, 34 of tetanus, and 89 of measles. Despite the availability of vaccines, many thousands of people in the United States still die each year from vaccine-preventable diseases such as hepatitis and influenza.

Immunization against 17 diseases is recommended for young children and adolescents: hepatitis B (HepB); rotavirus; diphtheria, tetanus (lockjaw), and pertussis (whooping cough), given together as DTaP (formerly DTP) and, for older children, Tdap; Haemophilus influenzae b (Hib); poliomyelitis (IPV); pneumococcal infections, including pneumonia, meningitis, and bacteremia (PCV and PPV); measles, mumps, and rubella, given together as MMR; chicken pox (Var); hepatitis A (HepA); influenza; Neisseria meningitidis (meningococcal meningitis; MCV4, MPSV4); and human papillomavirus (HPV). Researchers are working to develop combination vaccines that would simplify vaccine administration. Immunization against diseases such as yellow fever may be necessary before traveling to some countries. In 2002 the U.S. government decided to reinstitute smallpox vaccination for many military, health-care, and emergency personnel because of concern about a possible bioterror attack using smallpox.

See also inoculation.

See study by A. Allen (2007).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Immunization of Children: Selected full-text books and articles

In Defense of Self: How the Immune System Really Works By William R. Clark Oxford University Press, 2008
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 7 "Vaccines: How They Work, Why They Sometimes Don't, and What We Can Do About It"
Are Parents Putting Kids' Health at Risk by Refusing Vaccines? By Sheridan, Kerry Cape Times (South Africa), April 22, 2014
Study: Vaccination against Measles May Have Other Benefits By Chang, Alicia Honolulu Star - Advertiser, May 7, 2015
Vaccines Do Not Cause Autism By The Exceptional Parent, Vol. 45, No. 4, April 2015
Immunizing against Bad Science: The Vaccine Court and the Autism Test Cases By Haertlein, Lauren L Law and Contemporary Problems, Vol. 75, No. 2, Spring 2012
Vaccines and Autism: A Deadly Manufactroversy By Hall, Harriet Skeptic (Altadena, CA), Vol. 15, No. 2, Summer 2009
Lancet Retracts Article Linking Vaccines, Autism By Frieden, Joyce Clinical Psychiatry News, Vol. 38, No. 3, March 2010
Underlying Issues Are Key to Dispelling Vaccine Doubts By Fleck, Fiona Bulletin of the World Health Organization, Vol. 92, No. 2, February 2014
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