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What Every Parent Should Know About Immunizations

Watching your child get a shot isn't easy. It's even harder if the fearful one is you.

Millions of parents immunize their kids each year without concern. Yet some parents have heard rumors that vaccines can cause serious health problems.

So, who can parents turn to for the facts about vaccine safety? Your child's doctor is your first resource for reliable information. Health care providers are bound by law to provide you with written information on both the benefits and risks of each immunization suggested for your child. Reading this material can help you make a well-informed decision.

Another resource for in-depth information on vaccine safety is the CDC

Are immunizations safe?

Yes. All vaccines are fully tested before being approved for use by the FDA. Vaccines contain weakened toxins, or a dead or weakened form of the disease-causing virus or bacteria, which causes the body to produce antibodies that protect the child from that disease.

Diseases such as polio and mumps are rare, so why are vaccines necessary?

Many of these diseases still thrive in other parts of the world. Travelers can and do bring these viruses back to the United States. Without the protection of vaccines, these diseases could easily spread here again.

Don't vaccines cause harmful side effects, illness, and even death?

Some children have minor side effects from being vaccinated, such as a slight fever or swelling at the injection site. The risk for death or serious side effects is so small that it is difficult to document. Claims that vaccines cause autism or other diseases have been carefully researched and never proved. Rumors still persist that an increase in autism in children is caused by thimerosal, a preservative added to vaccines. Thimerosal, however, was removed from all vaccines in Sweden in 1995, and the incidence of autism has continued to increase there, as it has in the United States and throughout the world. After a thorough review, in 2004 the Institute of Medicine rejected the idea that vaccines had any relationship with autism.  

Won't giving babies multiple vaccines at one time overload their immune system?

Many studies have been done to assess the safety of multiple vaccinations. None has shown that multiple vaccinations cause a problem. Children are exposed to many foreign substances every day with no harmful effects. Scientists say that the tiny amount of virus or bacteria in vaccines is not enough to harm a child.

What is the association between vaccinations and SIDS?

According to the recommendations developed by the American Academy of Pediatrics to help reduce the risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and other sleep-related deaths in infants up to 12 months old, making sure that your child is fully immunized can help reduce the risk for SIDS by 50 percent.