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When babies are born, they inherit a set of mothers’ antibodies that protect them from various diseases. During the perinatal period, breastfed infants continue to receive benefits from their mothers’ milk in the form of additional antibodies. Yet, such a protection gives infants only a temporary respite from the pertinacious infections. It is imperative that small children should be vaccinated to help them create immunity to certain diseases. In essence, immunization is a process of creating this immunity by introducing small amounts of killed microorganisms into a child’s body. Vaccines stimulate the organism to behave as if it copes with a real infection. The organism remembers its reaction for the future and, thus, can easily withstand the infection if it occurs later. Among the most common diseases against which children are vaccinated are measles, mumps, rubella, poliomyelitis, tetanus, chickenpox, influenza, hepatitis A and B, diphtheria and pertussis. At the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics, children should get combination vaccines to reduce the number of shots they receive. Today, there is a flurry of speculation as to whether childhood vaccination is effective in preventing infections in the future. Oftentimes, there are reasons to be concerned about the safety of vaccination because pharmaceutics, developers, manufacturers and distributors of vaccines engage in fraudulent activities to conceal numerous cases of complications brought about by vaccination. However, childhood immunization is not necessarily dangerous. Despite a plethora of adverse reactions caused by some of the most popular vaccines, childhood immunization is an indispensable infection prevention measure and should continue unabated unless a better solution is available.
There is no gainsaying the fact that childhood vaccination leads to better health outcomes in the future. Due to the remarkable advances in medical science, vaccines can protect children against diseases that were considered terminal only two or three generations ago. For example, the vaccines against poliomyelitis have virtually eradicated this disease in all countries of the world. The worldwide incidence of poliomyelitis fell from millions of cases in the mid-20th century to less than 200 cases in 2013. Polio also ravaged the US throughout the 21st century, paralyzing and killing hundreds of thousands of people, but the vaccines eliminated it altogether. Many other infectious diseases are close to extinction thanks to the continuous childhood vaccination. Similarly, immunized children cannot spread disease to other children, which is an important argument at the time when measles and pertussis are resurgent. For the sake of brevity, the history of childhood immunization demonstrates that vaccination is in fact a powerful instrument in the fight against infectious diseases.
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Despite the dramatic success of childhood vaccination, there are fears in some quarters that childhood vaccination is dangerous because new vaccines that constantly enter the market can have severe side effects. In fact, pursuant to the current legislation, monitoring of the side effects of vaccination is carried out at all levels of healthcare. Thus, the second major argument in favor of childhood immunization is that the modern medical practice minimizes the risks of side effects by introducing very rigorous vaccination safety measures. The system of the vaccines’ safety evaluation includes five levels of control. First of all, both pharmacists and national monitoring agencies test new vaccines at the laboratory phase. At this stage, the state supervision provides for the examination of normative documents as well as laboratory testing of experimental, experimentally practical and the first practical samples of vaccines. By the same token, the attempts to establish if safety testing for vaccines is rigorous enough are made. In stark contradistinction to many countries, the US has a system of state-run tests, which are conducted under the direction of the monitoring agency with the use of the comparator block, double-blind method and many other principles of controlling safety. Vaccines are tested first on adults and then on children. Only those vaccines that survive the winnowing process go to the production phase.
At the second level, the production of vaccines is inspected. It envisages a mandatory control of the raw materials used in the production of a vaccine at various stages of the manufacturing process. Those manufacturers that do not comply with the standards will not be able to have their vaccines certified. All vaccines used on the territory of the United States are subject to the compulsory state certification. Inspection of pharmaceutical enterprises, which produce vaccines, takes place next. The purpose of this step is to verify compliance with the requirements of the so-called Good Manufacturing Practice that guarantees the safety of the vaccines. At the fifth level, state authorities attempt to establish if the quality of a certain vaccine is maintained at points of distribution. This step is the responsibility of the sanitary and epidemiological surveillance centers. They ought to ensure abidance by the rules of storage, transportation and sale of vaccines. Interestingly, in accordance with the national requirements and recommendations, it is allowed to import and utilize only those vaccines that are registered in the United States. Each imported consignment of vaccines must have a certificate issued by the national monitoring agency, confirming that quality of the imported vaccines meets the regulatory requirements set forth by the US. Therefore, it is safe to say that the US has developed a sophisticated system of evaluating the quality of vaccines in order to introduce only effective and harmless vaccines in the market.
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