We discuss the importance of vaccines and common questions parents have about them in a Q&A with Dr. Darek Eggleston.
Are vaccinations really that important?
Vaccinations protect your child against serious, life-threatening diseases by stimulating the immune system to create antibodies against certain bacteria or viruses.
What diseases do vaccines protect against?
Immunizing your child with vaccines protects against serious diseases like measles, whooping cough, polio, tetanus, rotavirus, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, chickenpox, and more. This time of year, it is also advised that everyone receive the influenza (flu) vaccine.
I don’t know anybody who has had these diseases. Why does my child need these vaccines?
While a few of these diseases have virtually disappeared because of vaccination, outbreaks of measles and whooping cough still occur in the U.S. Even if some diseases do completely disappear in the U.S., they are common in other parts of the world and are just a plane ride away. If we stop vaccinating against these diseases, many more people will become infected. Vaccinating your child will keep him or her safe.
Won’t breastfeeding accomplish the same thing?
No. Breastfeeding offers temporary immunity against some minor infections like colds, but it is not an effective means of protecting a child from the specific diseases prevented by vaccines. Likewise, vitamins won’t protect against the bacteria and viruses that cause these serious diseases. Chiropractic remedies, naturopathy, and homeopathy are totally ineffective in preventing vaccine-preventable diseases.
Some parents think that getting the “natural” disease is preferable to “artificial” vaccination, leading to a “natural” immunity. Incredibly, some people even arrange chicken pox “parties” to ensure their child gets infected. It’s true that for some diseases, getting infected will lead to immunity, but the price paid for natural disease can include paralysis, brain injury, liver cancer, deafness, blindness, or even death. When you consider the dire seriousness of these health risks, vaccination is definitely the better choice.
Are vaccines safe?
Vaccines are among the safest medical products available, and scientists are working to make sure they are made even safer all the time. Every vaccine undergoes extensive testing before being licensed, and vaccine safety continues to be monitored as long as a vaccine is in use.
Some common side effects are a sore arm or fever. There is a very small risk that serious problems could occur after getting a vaccine.
What if my child is sick? Can he or she still get vaccinated?
Yes. Your child can still get vaccinated if he or she has a mild illness, a low-grade fever, or is taking antibiotics.
Is the flu vaccine effective?
Yes, it absolutely is. Receiving a yearly flu vaccine is the most effective way to protect you and your family from the flu. It’s important to remember that the flu can still be lethal, especially for children and seniors. Influenza vaccination and reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, and missed work and school due to the flu. It can also prevent stressful and costly flu-related hospitalizations.