When it comes to preventing illness, vaccines stand at the forefront of disease protection.
"Vaccines strengthen our body’s immune response," said Dr. Amy Amin Patil, a pediatrician at CareMount Medical. "After a vaccination, our immune system creates antibodies that can protect us from future exposure to a disease."
Vaccines are especially important in children, and the pneumococcal antibody is one of the most crucial of them all. "Pneumococcal diseases are contagious; they spread through respiratory fluids, like saliva or mucus," said Patil. "The vaccine, PCV13, offers protection from pneumococcal bacteria that cause pneumonia and other illnesses, some of which are life threatening." These can include invasive diseases such as meningitis and blood infections -- both of which can be deadly.
The CDC includes PCV13 as part of its routine childhood vaccination schedule. "Babies begin the four-dose series when they are two months old, with the second and third shots given at four months and six months," said Patil. "The final booster shot is given when children are between 12 and 15 months old."
In addition to providing protection from pneumonia and serious invasive diseases, the PCV13 vaccine also increases children’s resistance to sinus and ear infections, half of which are caused by pneumococcal bacteria. For especially vulnerable children over the age of two, the PPSV23 vaccine can be applied for additional protection.
With more children being vaccinated, the CDC has reported a positive impact on infant and toddler health. In the three years after the introduction of PCV13 in 2010, an estimated 30,000 cases of invasive pneumococcal disease were prevented and 3,000 lives were saved.
"For doctors, parents and caregivers, the availability of the PCV13 and PPSV23 vaccines offers further reassurance that babies and children can experience healthy lives," said Patil.
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