Immunizations

Immunizations, or vaccinations, usually are injections (oral in the case of the oral polio vaccine) that, when administered to an individual, elicit an immune response that protects the individual against the pathogen when future exposure occurs. Childhood is a particularly important time for immunizations because young children are still naïve to many viruses and bacteria, presenting an opportunity for primary prevention of disease.

The CDC National Immunization Program has an Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) that meets regularly and annually releases a Childhood and Adolescent Immunization Schedule (www.cdc.gov/vaccines/) (CDC, 2009). A catch-up schedule is available for children who have missed previous immunizations. The ACIP, AAP, and AAFP also release the annual Harmonized Childhood and Adolescent Immunization Schedule, which has been endorsed by the three organizations. Periodic preventive care visits by family physicians provide opportunities for administration of these immunizations.

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