Pediatric Vaccines and Immunization

Babies are born with protection against some diseases because their mothers pass antibodies to them before birth. Breastfed babies continue to get more antibodies in breast milk. But in both cases, the protection is temporary. Immunization (vaccination) is a way to create immunity to some diseases. This is done by using small amounts of a killed or weakened germ that causes the disease.

Germs can be viruses (such as the measles virus) or bacteria (such as pneumococcus). Vaccines stimulate the immune system to react as if there were a real infection. It fends off the "infection" and remembers the germ. Then, it can fight the germ if it enters the body later. Immunization with 3 doses of diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTP) vaccine is recommended for children within the first year of life.