Why it’s important to vaccinate your children

Vaccines or immunizations can be overwhelming for children and parents. Although vaccinations are sometimes uncomfortable, they are a critical part of keeping your children and others surrounding them safe. National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW) is an annual observance that highlights the importance of protecting children two years and younger from vaccine-preventable diseases.

Vaccinations not only protects your child from deadly diseases, such as polio, tetanus, diphtheria, and others but they also keep other children safe by removing or significantly decreasing harmful viruses that spread from child to child.

A vaccine is a dead, weakened version, or part of the germ that causes the disease. When children are exposed to a virus in vaccine form, their immune system, which is the body’s germ-fighting machine, is able to build up antibodies that protect them from contracting the virus if and when they are exposed to the actual disease. Therefore, building up immunity is the body’s way of preventing disease.

All immunizations and vaccines can have different types of side effects. Most side effects are minor and could consist of a low-grade fever, soreness, headaches, fatigue or loss of appetite. It’s rare for children to experience a severe allergic reaction or other extreme side effects. That is why it’s important to follow up with your family medicine physician and complete annual wellness visits to help with preventative care and possible early detection of an allergy or condition. If your child has an allergy to a specific vaccine component, your provider will work with you and your child to find alternative solutions.

There are many opinions about immunizations and vaccines, and during National Infant Immunization Week we’re here to clear up some myths.

Myth 1: If so many other people are vaccinated, my child doesn’t need vaccines.

Yes, your child should still get vaccinated. Relying on other parents actions to protect your unvaccinated child only works if everyone else is vaccinated. If all parents approached vaccinations like this, fewer children will be immunized and diseases will begin to spread quickly.

Myth 2: It’s better to get vaccines one at a time.

With a combination vaccine, your child can receive protection from many different viruses with just one shot. Studies show that combination vaccines are safe and effective. There is no reason for your child to get the vaccines one at a time. Getting more than one vaccine at once also means no delay in protection and fewer medical visits.

Myth 3: Vaccines are not adequately tested for safety.

All medicines are required to go through an approval process which will identify that the medicines are effective and safe.  Vaccines must go through an approval process and prove to be safe and effective at preventing diseases they target. Once a vaccine is in use, it’s continuously monitored for side effects. Serious side effects to vaccines are very rare.

Myth 4: Natural is better. We shouldn’t put foreign substances like vaccines into our bodies.

In this case, natural is not always better. Think about how many things in nature should not be ingested and can be deadly. Some of the most toxic poisons come from wild plants and berries. The germs that vaccines protect against are part of nature but are also harmful. Vaccines are developed by natural resources and made from live germs that have undergone changes so they can’t cause illness. Vaccines are created to stimulate our immune system the same way infection would, but without making us sick.

This recognition week serves as a reminder about the importance of remaining on the right path and ensuring children are up to date on recommended vaccines. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend that children stay on track with their well-child appointments and routine vaccinations. If we continue vaccinating, and vaccinating completely, we may be able to trust that some diseases of today will no longer be around to harm children in the future.