While shopping for school supplies, now is a good time to ensure that your child is up to date on vaccines such as the DTaP -- diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis.

Vaccines are vital to help boost the body's immune system by stimulating the production of cells called antibodies. These antibodies fight against organisms that make us sick.

In addition, they remain in the body to recognize and fight the harmful organism in the future. Many illnesses, pain and sometimes death can be prevented by readily available vaccines.

In the United States, 20 percent of 2-year-olds do not obtain one or more of the recommended vaccines.

There are two types of vaccines: inactive and live.

Inactive vaccines are safely grown from virus, bacteria or other pathogens that are killed. They are effective in soliciting the immune response but require additional doses. Hence, your child may need multiple doses to reach the desired protection or a periodic booster to sustain the level of defense.

Examples of inactive vaccines are those that prevent tetanus and diphtheria.

Live vaccines are made from greatly weakened forms of disease-causing organisms. Often, live vaccines provide full protection after one or two doses. Examples of live vaccines include oral polio, varicella and measles.

Vaccines are given to protect all populations from numerous diseases that can have serious complications -- even death -- especially in the very young and old.

To date, vaccines in children and teens prevent 16 diseases.

One example is the varicella vaccine, which produces antibodies against a very contagious disease called chickenpox. More than an itchy rash and fever, chickenpox can lead to other complication like pneumonia and swelling of the brain.

Prior to the invention of the vaccine, it was not uncommon for millions of people to contract chickenpox each year.

We can all help prevent spread of diseases by attaining required vaccinations.

Studies have shown that with low immunization levels, cases of vaccine preventable diseases and fatalities can greatly increase in a very short time.

Preparation is the key. Discuss recommended vaccines, age-specific timelines, schedules, side effects and risks with your provider and your local school system.

Help protect the health of everyone in the community -- vaccinate today.

For more information, go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vac-gen/default.htm