Parents often have to make important decisions for their children and getting your child vaccinated is one. A few years ago the decision was pretty easy. Parents had seen the devastation that diseases like polio, pertussis, and measles cause and wanted to make sure that their children were protected. But as the years have passed, vaccines have become so successful that we no longer see the devastating diseases that they protect us against.
Many parents are also concerned about vaccine safety issues. In the media we hear a lot of claims from special interest groups that vaccines cause things like autism, attention deficit disorder, seizures, and epilepsy. However, none of these claims have been upheld in research. Studies have shown that vaccines are very safe, with only rare and mild side effects. Any risk of a serious reaction to a vaccine is extremely small when compared to the serious diseases they prevent.
Before deciding not to vaccinate your child, it is important to consider the following factors:
• A study by the CDC showed that the implementation of routine childhood immunizations has caused the largest ever decline of some of the most devastating diseases in the United States. Diseases that once killed and maimed children are now highly preventable. However these diseases are not totally eradicated; many are still very prevalent in other countries and could easily return to the United States if our immunization rates fall.
• Studies show that children who aren’t vaccinated are at a much higher risk of getting these diseases. In a recent study on pertussis (whooping cough) it was found that unvaccinated children where 23 time more likely to get whooping cough.
• Health officials are seeing that as vaccination rates drop, incidences of diseases like pertussis and measles increase.
• For an immunization program to be successful, there needs to be a high immunization rate. If too many people are left unvaccinated, especially in one geographical area, an outbreak can occur. The decision to refuse vaccinations is not just a personal one, but it affects the entire community.
• High immunization rates allow us to protect the most vulnerable in our communities, including babies younger than two months old for whom vaccines are not yet effective and children with compromised immune systems. When you decide to vaccinate your children, you not only protect them, but this vulnerable population.
Most importantly, before you decide to delay or skip an immunization for your child talk to your pediatrician first. We are here to answer your questions and help you get the facts you need to make this important decision.
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