Ever since the late 1700s, vaccines have been hard at work preventing deadly disease and protecting human lives. Now, in the modern age, vaccines for children are standard for maintaining public health, and pediatric clinics may often offer safe and effective vaccines for one’s child. A child doctor will keep track of their young patients’ current and pending shots, and vaccines for children may be scheduled with the parents. Diseases such as smallpox, Polio, tetanus, whooping cough, measles, and more have had vaccines developed for them, and vaccines for children and adults alike have minimized the impact of some diseases and practically eradicated others. Polio and smallpox, for example, have largely vanished from the public sphere, now contained safely in labs for research and study. What is there to know about vaccines for children and adults today, and how did vaccines first develop?
Vaccines Through the Years
Vaccines as we know them date back to 1796, when a man named Edward Jenner developed what he called the “arm to arm” inoculation method. He extracted material from the blister of someone infected with cowpox and injected it into the arm of another patient, and that patient would soon develop resistance to smallpox. Vaccines continued to develop since then, and by the 1940s, vaccines were being produced on a large scale for the first time. At the time, common illnesses such as smallpox, tetanus, whooping cough, and Diphtheria were treated with these vaccines, and vaccines were useful for American soldiers being sent to faraway lands. Now, vaccines cover an even wider swath of diseases, and their efforts have, as mentioned above, largely eradicated some particular afflictions.
Children and Their Vaccines
Young children have limited immune systems, and they can rapidly transmit diseases to each other if they do not have proper vaccinations. Americans largely get vaccination for children from coast to coast, and today, around 91.1% of all children aged 12-17 years old have vaccinations against measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR). A newborn borrows its mother’s immune system through breast milk, but starting at age six months, a baby will start relying on and developing its own immune system. At that age, children start getting colds, and babies, toddlers, and small children may get seven to eight colds per year. Therefore, a child should get wellness checkups when their parents take them to a pediatrics clinic. Checkups can be done at the ages of two weeks, then at ages two, four, six, nine, 12, 15, and 18 months. The child should also get checkups at ages two years, 2.5 years, and three, four, and five years. A child may start soon receiving vaccinations against powerful and dangerous contagions ranging from measles to rubella, and this can save many lives.
Measles, for example, has been largely suppressed by vaccines. From the years 2000 to 2014, cases of measles (and fatalities) dropped a massive 79%, showing just how effective vaccines can be. Many other diseases face similar trends, and around the world, millions of lives are saved every single year due to vaccines for children and adults alike.
A hospital or research lab may need to contain its many delicate vaccines on site until they are ready to be used. Vaccines cannot be left out in the open; they are sensitive to temperature, so the correct medical fridges and freezers should be available to store them. No ordinary cooling unit will do, since commercial coolers tend to have unacceptably wide variance in temperature as the door is opened and closed. Instead, a specialized medical fridge or freezer should be sought out by a hospital or research lab’s staff.
The size of the freezer or fridge should reflect storage needs, since a too-large unit is a waste of space and a too-small once can’t hold all the vaccines at once. Open space at the lab can be found, such as on the floor for large units or on a counter or shelf for smaller, lighter cooler units. Some coolers are in fact installed under a counter to make more room in the lab. Some vaccines need to be stored in freezing conditions, while others simply need refrigerated air. Lab technicians should know which is which and have the right units on hand for storing various vaccines.