Vaccines—also known as immunizations—are an essential part of childhood. It used to be taken for granted that all children would receive their vaccinations against diseases like measles, mumps, polio, and pertussis, but that is no longer the case.
A growing movement of parents is saying no to vaccinating their children, which means new outbreaks of old diseases are becoming a threat once again. However, this is a completely preventable occurrence. Read on to learn the real truth about vaccines and why you should make an appointment with Dr. 2 Kids to get your children vaccinated today.
When your body is exposed to a virus, your immune system mounts a defense against the invading germ. Vaccines use a weakened version of a virus, which makes your body build antibodies to that virus and store a “memory” of the threat. If you are ever exposed to the actual virus, your body reacts as though it’s already been exposed to the illness and mounts a full defense, providing immunity.
Vaccines are overwhelmingly safe. Once-common diseases such as smallpox and wild polio have been completely eradicated thanks to the widespread use of vaccines. We are lucky that we rarely hear about diseases like diphtheria or the mumps anymore. Many children died from these illnesses. Other diseases which have been nearly eliminated thanks to vaccination include tetanus and the measles.
Because of some public concerns about vaccines in the 1970s, including successful lawsuits against vaccine manufacturers, the government has increased its oversight of vaccine safety. The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act established this oversight. The National Vaccine Program Office was created to coordinate several government agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, and the National Institutes of Health.
There is also a Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) which collects all reported serious vaccine side effects. This database acts as a check on the system, making sure that any widespread problems with a specific vaccine batch are detected early. What all of this means is that there are several layers of protection to keep your child safe.
Parents are also given medical information sheets about every vaccination before it is given. These sheets explain specifics about the disease being vaccinated against, as well as about common side effects from the vaccine. This allows parents the ability to make a fully informed decision about immunizing their child.
Another concern many parents have about immunizations is the mistaken belief that vaccines cause autism. A British researcher named Andrew Wakefield published a study in The Lancet in 1998, which claimed that the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine caused autism. Parents immediately began to distrust the MMR vaccine as word of the Wakefield study spread.
In 2004, a journalist named Brian Deer began investigating the Wakefield study and found several reasons for doubt. By 2010, the Wakefield study was completely discredited because its data have been proven false, and the paper was retracted. But by then, the damage had already been done in the public eye. Measles outbreaks have become common since 2008, occurring primarily in unvaccinated children, and 2019 has seen the worst outbreak in the United States in decades. Parents can and should give children the MMR vaccine, as it has been proven that there is no link between the vaccine and autism.
Some children are too ill to get vaccinated in the first place. Children with compromised immune systems or who are too young to receive certain vaccinations depend on others to get vaccinated. Your child’s doctor will tell you if your child shouldn’t receive their shots, but this situation is extremely uncommon.
This widespread vaccination among the majority of members of society creates something called herd immunity. When the vast majority of society is vaccinated, it keeps diseases at bay, which protects those who cannot be vaccinated.
You may have heard about recent outbreaks of diseases like measles. These once-eliminated diseases are making a comeback because too many parents are opting out of vaccinations. Because vaccination rates are declining, the herd immunity that protects those who can’t be vaccinated is declining.
Vaccines are overwhelmingly safe, especially the MMR vaccine that protects against measles and mumps. The protection that immunizations offer against disease far outweighs any side effects, which are nearly always mild. Giving your child their shots is the responsible thing to do.
We at Dr. 2 Kids believe that healthy children should always get their shots on the recommended schedule. If you have any concerns about vaccines, we would be happy to discuss them with you. Protect your precious child by making an appointment with Dr. 2 Kids to get your child vaccinated today against a variety of preventable diseases.