Immunizations: For the Kids | Family Medicine Practices in Keller, TX

Immunizations: For the Kids | Family Medicine Practices in Keller, TX
April 27, 2017
Immunizations: For the Kids | Family Medicine Practices in Keller, TX

Immunizations for children is a lively topic at family medicine practices in Keller, TX and at medical clinics in Keller. Before we address whether or not it’s a good idea to vaccinate kids, let’s understand what vaccines are, if they are safe, and if they have side effects.

We’ll examine important reasons to vaccinate children, why parents choose not to vaccinate, and what the risks are in the next post.

What is a vaccine?

New parents going to a Keller family medical practice or stopping at a medical clinic in Keller often ask doctors and nurses about vaccines. What are they? They may have a vague recollection of being vaccinated as a kid, but that’s about it.

In simple terms, when a germ enters the body the immune system recognizes them as antigens or foreign substances. The immune system kicks in and produces the proper antibodies to fight the antigens. It’s a pretty amazing process.

Essentially, vaccines contain weakened versions of viruses. They stimulate the immune system to create antibodies that are sort of filed away to help protect you if and when you’re exposed to the virus in the future.

Vaccines are particularly important to keep children healthy as their immune systems are still young and are not as strong to fight off viruses. When administered en masse, vaccines help all children by stamping out serious childhood diseases.

Take, for example, measles. Before a vaccine arrived in 1963, nearly everybody got the measles in childhood and on average 440 children died from it annually the previous decade.

If there was not measles vaccine today, it is estimated by various sources that there would be at least four million measles cases every year in the U.S.

Between 80 and 90 percent of kids receive vaccines in the U.S., but there is a growing number of parents who are opting out of vaccinating their children for various reasons (a subject of a future post).

For parents taking their children to a Keller family medical practice or using a medical clinic in Keller, it’s important to understanding vaccines in order to make informed decisions.

Are vaccines safe?

Next to “what are vaccines?” the most important question from parents is: “Are vaccines safe for my child?”

In general, yes, vaccines are safe — yet safety is the most common reason parents skip vaccinating their children despite overwhelming and repeated evidence they’re not dangerous, including a 2013 report by the Institute of Medicine.

The protection provided by vaccines far outweighs the small risk of serious problems developing. Your doctor or nurse at a family healthcare practice or medical clinic in Keller or neighboring Southlake and Watauga can answer any questions you may have about vaccine safety and can provide empirical data and resources for you to review if so desired.

Do vaccines have side effects?

To be honest, yes, some vaccines may cause mild, temporary side effects such as fever, soreness, or a lump under the skin where the shot was administered. Remember, vaccines essentially contain weakened versions of viruses meant to stimulate the immune system to provide antibodies to fight invading antigens in the future.

But any side effect more severe is rare. Again, your doctor or nurse at a family medical practice or medical clinic in Keller can answer any questions you may have about side effects and provide resources for you to review.

When are children vaccinated?

This varies by age, time of year, and other factors. Vaccine schedules are available at Keller family medical practices and at Keller, Southlake, and Watauga medical clinics.

Copies are also available at, from organizations such as the American Academy of Physicians, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Most children receive their first vaccine soon after they are born. They are then vaccinated at various points throughout their childhood.

What are reasons my child should not be vaccinated?

Children who have certain types of cancer or certain diseases or may be taking drugs that lower the body’s ability to resist infection should not be vaccinated.

Again, your doctor or nurse at a family medical practice or medical clinic in Keller will keep close tabs on whether the child should be vaccinated or not. In some instances, a child may have a serious reaction to the first shot in a series of shots. The doctor will go over with you the pros and cons of giving the child the rest of the shots in the series.

What are the vaccines given to children?

Here is a brief look at the types of vaccines given to children. Again, your doctor or nurse at a family healthcare practice or medical clinic in Keller can provide detailed information and resources on each.

Flu vaccine

The flu vaccine is also called an influenza vaccine. It’s available by shot or nasal spray. However, the CDC recommend the nasal spray vaccine should not be used for the 2016-2017 flu season. Data from the CDC and other groups showed poor or relatively lower effectiveness of the nasal spray vaccine compared with previous flu seasons.

Keep in mind: Development of a flu vaccine and testing is ongoing and is intended to fight the strain of flu for that particular flu season.

The flu vaccine is given at the beginning of the flu season, usually in October or November.

A flu shot is safe for children 6 months of age and older. The nasal spray vaccine (when applicable) is safe for children 2 years of age and older.

Because flu viruses change from year to year, it is very important for children to get the vaccinated each year so they will be protected.

Children, it is worth noting, are more likely to have complications from the flu.

DTaP vaccine

The DTaP vaccine is three vaccines in one shot. It protects against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis and is given as a series of five shots: The first when a child is 2 months old and the last when he or she is 4- to 6-years-old.

Diphtheria is a disease that attacks the throat and heart. It can lead to heart failure and death.

Tetanus is also called “lockjaw.” It can lead to severe muscle spasms and death.

Pertussis (also called “whooping cough”) causes severe coughing that makes it hard to breathe, eat, and drink. It can lead to pneumonia, convulsions, brain damage, and death.

We will say it again and again and again — because it’s that important and worth repeating — your doctor or nurse at a Keller family medicine or medical clinic can provide detailed information and resources to answer any questions you have about the DTaP vaccine.

Tdap vaccine

The Tdap vaccine is a booster to the original DTaP vaccine (see above). It is given when a child is 11 years old or older.

Rotavirus vaccine

This vaccine protects against rotavirus — a virus that causes diarrhea, mostly in babies and young children. The diarrhea can be severe and cause dehydration. Rotavirus can also cause vomiting and fever in babies.

A child will receive either a two-dose (at 2 and 4 months of age) or a three-dose series (at 2, 4, and 6 months of age), depending on what the doctor recommends. All doses should be given no later than 8 months of age.

After rotavirus vaccination, call your family medicine practice in Keller or the medical clinic in Keller if the child has stomach pain with severe crying (this could be brief), vomiting, blood in the stool, or is acting wet or irritable. This is especially important within the first seven to 14 days after the rotavirus vaccination.

IPV vaccine

The IPV (inactivated poliovirus) vaccine helps prevent polio. It’s given four times as a shot from age 2 months to 6 years.

Polio can cause muscle pain and paralysis of one or both legs or arms. It may also paralyze the muscles used to breathe and swallow. It can lead to death.

While incidences of polio are less in the U.S. than they were decades ago, keep in mind that it’s a much smaller world today. People travel into the United States from countries all over the world and could bring with them various diseases that are unknown or undetected.

MMR vaccine

The MMR vaccine protects against measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR). It’s given as two shots when a child is 1 year old and again at 4 to 6 years old.

Measles cause fever, rash, cough, runny nose, and watery eyes. It can also cause ear infections and pneumonia and lead to more serious problems such as brain swelling and even death.

Mumps cause fever, headache, and painful swelling of one or both of the major saliva glands. Mumps can lead to meningitis (infection of the coverings of the brain and spinal cord) and, very rarely, to brain swelling. Rarely, it can cause the testicles of boys or men to swell, which can make them unable to have children.

Rubella is also called the German measles. It causes a slight fever, a rash and swelling of the glands in the neck. Rubella can also cause brain swelling or a problem with bleeding.

If a pregnant woman catches rubella, it can cause her to lose her baby or have a baby who is blind or deaf, or has trouble learning. Some people have suggested that the MMR vaccine causes autism; however, research has shown that there is no link between autism and childhood vaccinations.

Even so, if you have questions or concern your doctor or nurse at a Keller family medicine practice or medical clinic can provide detailed information and resources about the MMR vaccine.

Hib vaccine

The Hib vaccine helps prevent Haemophilus influenzatype B, a leading cause of serious illness in children. It can lead to meningitis, pneumonia and a severe throat infection.

The Hib vaccine is given as a series of three or four shots, from age 2 months to 15 months.

Varicella vaccine

The varicella vaccine helps prevent chickenpox.

It is given to children once after they are 12 months old and again at 4- to 6 years old or to older children if they have never had chickenpox or been vaccinated.

HBV vaccine

The HBV vaccine helps prevent hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection, an infection of the liver that can lead to liver cancer and death.

The vaccine is given as a series of three shots, with the first shot given soon after birth.

Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine

The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) protects against a type of bacteria that is a common cause of ear infections. This type of bacteria can also cause more serious illnesses, such as meningitis and bacteremia (infection in the blood stream).

Infants and toddlers are given four doses of the vaccine at 2, 4, 6, and 12 months of age. The vaccine may also be used in older children who are at risk for pneumococcal infection.

Meningococcal conjugate vaccine

The meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV4) protects against four strains or types of bacterial meningitis caused by the bacteria meningitis.

Bacterial meningitis is an infection of the fluid around the brain and spinal cord. It is a serious illness that can cause high fever, headache, stiff neck, and confusion. It can also cause more serious complications, such as brain damage, hearing loss, or blindness.

Children should get the MCV4 vaccine at 11 to 12 years of age. Children older than 12 who have not received the vaccine should receive it before starting high school.

HPV vaccine

The HPV vaccine helps prevent human pappilomavirus infection, which can cause cervical cancer as well as genital warts. It is given as a three shot series.

A Reminder

Immunizations and vaccines for children are numerous, hard to remember and understand, so if you have any questions or concerns it’s always advisable — encouraged even — to ask doctors and nurses in your family practice in Keller or at a medical clinic in Keller and neighboring Southlake or Watauga.