Vaccines are a hot button topic that raises issues and concerns with parents. Controversy about vaccines is nothing new and every vaccine that has been introduced has received its fair share of negative claims. However, research, data, and years of medical review have found that vaccines are an indispensable component of every child’s healthcare routine.
Every parent has their own good reasons to be concerned about vaccines, such as:
- The pain of receiving a shot
- The dread of seeing your children uncomfortable
- Scary, incorrect information that is pervasive online
- A healthy skepticism of for-profit pharmaceutical companies.
While these concerns are reasonable, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sum up the importance of vaccines perfectly, “Vaccination is one of the best ways parents can protect infants, children, and teens from 16 potentially harmful diseases. Vaccine-preventable diseases can be very serious, may require hospitalization, or even be deadly – especially in infants and young children.”
In fact, they may be the most important breakthrough in medicine responsible for saving the most lives. Ever. The discovery of antibiotics would run a close second, but it just goes to show you that they are an incredibly wise choice to make for your children.
How Vaccines Work
No child wants to receive a shot, but the benefits of many vaccines are worth the momentary discomfort. Quite simply, vaccines prepare your child’s immune system from potential cases of diseases ranging from Hepatitis A to meningitis.
Naturally, the human body produces antibodies to fight off infection. Once a person has recovered from the infection, those antibodies remain in the bloodstream. A vaccine mimics this natural response by using a weakened or killed bacteria or virus, helping the body develop an antibody response without having to suffer from the full-blown infection.
Are There Side Effects?
As a parent, you’ve made it your mission to be as well-informed about any topic related to your children, including vaccines. In your reading or conversations with other parents, you may have come across claims of a link between vaccination and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), autism, infertility, Multiple Sclerosis. We can say quite confidently that these assertions are not supported by any scientific findings. We have looked. It simply is not true.
Of course, there are potential side-effects. The vast majority of these are very mild, very self-limited and are gone within 24 hours. Most kids have no side effects at all. Those that do can experience soreness at the injection site, low-grade fever, fussiness, sleepiness, a transient rash. Some of the “links” to other illness are likely coincidences – symptoms that develop within the same time frame of receiving a vaccine but not because of the vaccine.
Myth: Vaccines Are Unnecessary Today
Some argue that vaccines treat diseases that are no longer a health threat, which might sound true because these diseases are thankfully not very common anymore. There’s a reason these ailments are no longer the life-threatening matters they once were: vaccines. Beginning when they are toddlers through the age of 6, children receive a series of vaccines to prevent these horrible infectious diseases that once killed thousands of children every year. It was because of this vaccine and its ongoing use that these diseases have been drastically reduced. If we lower our shield, they will come back. This has been shown to be the case over and over with measles, polio, meningitis and pertussis.
Bottom Line: Are Vaccines Safe?
Perfect? Nope. Worthwhile? BY ALL MEANS. So much so that nearly two years ago after agonizing and emotional discussions, Southwest Pediatrics unanimously agreed that our physicians will no longer accept patients who do not vaccinate their children. We were pleased and relieved when the response was overwhelmingly positive.
Vaccines are extremely safe. They are a good idea. We believe they are critically important.
Now you know where we stand, but you still might have questions or concerns. We are totally comfortable with that. Please feel free to ask questions and express your worries about shots. Make an appointment at either one of our clinics (Austin or Lakeway) to discuss vaccines and your children with your doctor and we are happy to talk it through with you.