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April is National Infant Immunization Month


 Vaccine-preventable diseases can be very serious, may require hospitalization, or even be deadly — especially in infants and young children. Vaccination is one of the best ways parents can protect infants, children, and teens from potentially harmful diseases.

How Vaccines Prevent Diseases
Vaccines reduce the risk of infection by working with the body’s natural defenses to help it safely develop immunity to disease.


When germs such as bacteria and viruses invade the body, they attack and multiply. This invasion is called an infection, and the infection is what causes illness. The immune system then has to fight the infection. Once it fights off the infection, the body is left with a supply of cells that help recognize and fight that disease in the future.


Vaccines help develop immunity by imitating an infection. This imitation infection does not cause illness, however. It causes the immune system to develop the same response as it does to a real infection so the body can recognize and fight the real infection in the future. Sometimes, after getting a vaccine, the imitation infection can cause minor symptoms, such as fever. These minor symptoms are normal and should be expected as the body builds immunity.

Vaccines and Your Child’s Immune System
If you are a parent, you may get upset or concerned when you watch your baby get multiple shots during a doctor’s visit, but all of those shots protect your baby against up to 14 infectious diseases. Young children are especially susceptible to vaccinepreventable diseases, so their vaccine schedule is designed to protect them when they are most vulnerable, and before they are likely to be exposed.


Although children continue to get several vaccines up to their second birthday, these vaccines do not overload the immune system. Every day, your healthy baby’s immune system successfully fights off millions of antigens—the parts of germs that cause the body’s immune system to respond. The antigens in vaccines come from weakened or killed germs so they cannot cause serious illness. Vaccines contain only a tiny amount of the antigens that your baby encounters every day, even if your child receives several vaccines in one day.


What about combination vaccines? These shots are a combination of two or more vaccines that could be given individually—but with fewer shots.


Before the Visit:

  • Come prepared! Take these steps before your child gets a shot to help make the immunization visit less stressful on you both
  • Find your child’s personal immunization record and bring it to your appointment. An up-to-date record tells your doctor exactly what shots your child has already received
  • Learn more about the benefits and risks of the vaccines that your child will receive by reviewing vaccine information statements. You can find these online or request them at your doctor’s office
  •  A mild illness is usually not a reason to reschedule a vaccination visit
  • Pack a favorite toy or book, and a blanket that your child uses regularly to comfort your child
  •  Read any vaccine materials you received from your child’s health care professional and write down any questions you may have


For Older Children:  

  • Avoid telling scary stories or making threats about shots
  • Be honest with your child. Explain that shots can pinch or sting, but that it won’t hurt for long
  • Engage other family members, especially older siblings, to support your child
  • Remind children that vaccines can keep them healthy

At the Doctor’s Office: 
If you have questions about immunizations, ask your child’s doctor or nurse. Your child’s doctor will give you Vaccine Information Statements (VIS) for the shots that your child will be getting that day. The VIS includes information about the risks and benefits of each vaccine. If your doctor doesn’t give you one you can request one.

Before you leave the appointment, ask your child’s doctor for advice on using nonaspirin pain reliever and other steps you can take at home to comfort your child.


Tips to Make Shots  Less Stressful


For babies and  younger children:
Try these ideas for making the shots easier on your child.

  • Breastfeeding
  • Comfort your child with a favorite toy or book. A blanket that smells familiar will help your child feel more comfortable
  • Distract and comfort your child by cuddling, singing, or talking softly
  • Hold your child firmly on your lap, whenever possible. Learn more about how to hold your child during shots
  • Offering a sweet beverage, like juice (when the child is older  than six months)
  • Once your child has  received all of the shots, be especially supportive
  • Skin-to-skin contact
  • Smile and make eye contact with your child. Let your child know that everything is ok 
  • Swaddling 


For older children  and adolescents:
  • Point out interesting things in the room to help create distractions
  • Support your child if he or she cries. Never scold a child for  not “being brave”
  • Take deep breaths with your child to help “blow out” the pain
  • Tell or read stories


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The information provided is meant for a general audience. It is not a substitute for services or advice received from your health care providers who are the only ones that can diagnose and treat your individual medical conditions. Capital BlueCross and its affiliated companies believe this health education resource provides useful information but do not assume any liability associated with its use. If you have any questions about the information, please contact your health care provider. Individual coverage for any services that may be discussed in this resource depends on your benefits plan. To determine coverage for any health care service, please refer to your Certificate of Coverage or Evidence of Coverage or call Customer Service at the toll-free number on your member identification card. Health care benefit programs issued or administered by Capital BlueCross and/or its subsidiaries, Capital Advantage Insurance Company®, Capital Advantage Assurance Company® and Keystone Health Plan® Central. Independent licensees of the BlueCross BlueShield Association. Communications issued by Capital BlueCross in its capacity as administrator of programs and provider relations for all companies.

N39-62 (03/29/17)

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