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5 Important Reasons to Vaccinate Your Child

August 03, 2017

August is National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM). As pediatricians, we would like parents and caregivers to understand all of the health benefits vaccines offer for their children. As parents and caregivers, we want the best possible healthy start in life for our babies. We buckle our babies into car seats, make sure they are eating healthy diets appropriate for their age, and baby-proof their surroundings from any potential dangers. We all want to keep our children safe and healthy. An important way to give your children the healthiest start in life is to make sure they receive all of their vaccinations as recommended by your pediatrician or family physician. 

1. Immunizations were created to save lives

African American Girl getting VaccineThanks to many years of research and science, we have vaccines that can protect our children against many diseases that used to make children very ill or even cause their death. Diseases such as polio, which was once incredibly feared because it causes paralysis and death, are no longer common in the United States because of the effectiveness of vaccines. Vaccines protect us from infection from certain diseases, and many of us have forgotten about diseases such as polio, diphtheria, or rubella because of vaccines. Vaccines are effective, and vaccines save lives.

2. Vaccines are safe and effective

We give vaccines to babies and children after a long and careful review by scientists, doctors, and healthcare professionals. The most common side effects from vaccines include some discomfort at the injection site that may include pain, redness, or tenderness. These side effects are minimal as compared to the effects of the diseases the vaccines are intended to protect against. Serious side effects, such as a severe allergic reaction, are possible but are very rare. The benefit of disease prevention in babies and children outweighs the risks of these possible side effects.

3. Immunizations protect your family and other people's families, too

Despite the effectiveness of vaccines, we still see outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases. In the United States, we have seen outbreaks of measles, mumps, and whooping cough in the past year alone. All of these outbreaks occur in areas with lower vaccination rates, and these outbreaks can be prevented with the use of vaccines. Every year, approximately 20 babies in the United States die from whooping cough, and they are usually under two months of age. These babies who died are too young to receive the vaccine to protect against whooping cough. Babies depend on other people around them to be vaccinated against whooping cough because they cannot protect themselves from this disease. Babies depend on herd immunity.

Vaccinating yourself and your children also helps protect other people's children because there are some kids who cannot receive vaccines. Children who cannot receive vaccines include very young babies and children who may have weakened immune systems from cancer treatment or other diseases. By vaccinating your children and family not only do you protect your own family, you also protect your friends and loved ones, too.

4. Immunizations can save your family time and money

Saving time and moneyA child who becomes sick with a vaccine-preventable disease may not attend school or daycare, and a parent or caregiver may need to take some time off from work to care for the child at home. Some of these vaccine-preventable disease can also result in prolonged disabilities that can add to costs and lost time at work. Vaccines help your child continue to grow and thrive and can keep them out of the hospital!

5. Immunizations protect our children and their children

The effectiveness of vaccines have reduced and even eliminated diseases that were once very common. The development of the smallpox vaccine was so effective that it got rid of the disease around the world. Our children do not receive the smallpox vaccine as part of their shots because the disease does not exist anymore. By vaccinating our children against rubella before they become adults, we decrease the risk of transmission of rubella from an infected pregnant woman to her child because this disease is associated with birth defects. If we all continue to fully vaccinate our children according to the recommended vaccination schedule, parents in the future may not have to worry about their children getting sick with diseases that we see today. 

For more information about vaccines, please visit the National Public Health Information Coalition or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.