When you have children, you spend a lot of your time trying to protect them. From helmets to car seats, we do everything we can to prevent our children from experiencing injury or pain. Immunizations are another way to protect your child.
While life in the United States affords us a relatively healthy society, it is important to be aware that deadly childhood diseases such as measles, mumps, and whooping cough, still exist in this country. The reason we do not hear about these outbreaks very often is because they do not happen very often. And the reason we do not have deadly outbreaks of these diseases is because of the vaccinations we have that help our body build up anti-bodies to fight off these diseases when we are exposed to them.
Vaccines have proven to be very effective over the years and have virtually eradicated the small pox virus from the world. Despite their proven effectiveness, some parents are still hesitant to have their children vaccinated. Some parents fear that vaccinations will make their child ill and other parents feel that there is no need to unnecessarily vaccinate their children since they do not see an impending threat from not being vaccinated. The truth is, these diseases still exist. The reason we do not hear about them often is because vaccines are doing what they are supposed to—helping the body build up antibodies to protect our children when they encounter a deadly virus.
The fear of your child becoming infected with the very disease you are trying to protect them from is a small concern with vaccinations. However, you can only become infected if the vaccination is made from a weakened form of the virus, not from dead viruses or partial viruses. Even when a person becomes infected from a vaccination, their symptoms tend to be a lot less severe than if a person were to encounter the actual virus. Healthcare providers are required to provide you with information about the effectiveness and risks of vaccinations. If you have any questions about vaccinating your child, be sure to discuss your concerns with your child’s pediatrician (see How to Choose a Pediatrician).
Every state has vaccination laws for school children. These laws are in place to protect our children from deadly viruses. Despite laws that are in place to protect our children, you may opt to exempt your child from being vaccinated for philosophical or religious reasons. To find out what vaccines are required in your state, talk to your child’s pediatrician or visit http://www.immunizationinfo.org/vaccineInfo/index.cfm#state.
For a booklet published by the CDC on vaccinations click here.