Making the Vaccine Decision

Any vaccine-preventable disease can strike at any time in the U.S. All of these diseases are still either in the U.S. or somewhere in the world. Usually, there is no way to know beforehand if a child will get a mild or serious case. Whooping Cough, chickenpox, and influenza are still in the U.S. These diseases can be mild or severe and life-threatening. 

For some diseases, one case is enough to cause concern in a community. An example of this is measles. Measles is one of the most contagious diseases known. Measles spreads quickly among people who are not immune.

Q: Are vaccines safe?

A: Yes. Vaccines are very safe. The United States’ vaccine safety system makes sure vaccines are as safe as possible. The United States has the safest, most effective vaccine supply in its history. Millions of children are safely vaccinated each year. 

Q: What are the side effects of the vaccines?
How do I treat them?

A: Vaccines, like any medicine, can cause some side effects. Most of these side effects are very minor, like soreness where the shot was given, fussiness, or a low-grade fever. These side effects typically only last a couple of days and are treatable. You can apply a cool, wet washcloth on the sore area to ease discomfort. Serious reactions are very rare. Pay extra attention to your child for a few days after vaccination. If your child has any reactions that concern you, call your doctor.

Q: What are the risks and benefits of vaccines?

A: Without vaccines, your child can get seriously ill. The illness can cause pain, disability, and even death from diseases like measles and whooping cough.

Q: Is there a link between vaccines and autism?

A: No. Scientists and researchers have studied and continue to study vaccines. They reach the same conclusion. There is no link between vaccines and autism.

Q: Can vaccines overload my baby’s immune system?

A: Vaccines do not overload the immune system. Every day, a healthy baby fights off millions of germs. Antigens are parts of germs that make the body’s immune system to go to work.

Even if babies get several vaccinations in one day, vaccines contain only a tiny fraction of the antigens that they come across every day. Vaccines give your child the antibodies they need to fight off serious illnesses.

Q: Why do vaccines start so early?

A: Children are immunized early because they can get diseases at a young age. The vaccine schedule is set up to protect infants and children before they are exposed to life-threatening diseases.

Q: Should we delay some vaccines or follow a different schedule?

A: Children do not get any known benefits from delaying vaccines.

Q: Haven't we gotten rid of these diseases in this country?

A: Some diseases, like Whooping Cough and chickenpox, are common in the United States. Other diseases prevented by vaccines are not common in this country because of vaccines. If wee stopped vaccinating, the few cases we have in the United States could very quickly become tens or hundreds of thousands of cases. Children that are not fully vaccinated and are exposed to a disease can become very sick and spread it.

Q: Can't I just wait until my child goes to school to get immunizations?

A: Children under age 5 are especially at risk for diseases because their immune systems have not built up the necessary defenses to fight infection. Don’t wait to protect your baby and risk getting these diseases. Your child needs protection now. Young children can be exposed to diseases from parents and other adults, brothers, and sisters, on a plane, at child care, even at the grocery store.

Q: My child is sick right now. Can she still get shots?

A: Talk with your doctor. If the doctor says it is okay, your child can still get vaccinated. 

Q: Don't infants have natural immunity? Isn't it better than the kind from vaccines?

A: Babies may get some temporary immunity from mom but only for the diseases to which mom is immune. Breastfeeding may also protect your baby temporarily from minor infections, like colds. These antibodies do not last long, so your baby is open to disease.

You can get more information from your doctor or from these websites:

American Academy of Pediatrics
American Academy of Family Physicians
The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
Immunization Action Coalition (IAC)
Every Child By Two

 Understand the risks if you decide not to vaccinate your children.


The Vaccine Decision -CDC
Ensuring the Safety of Vaccines in the U.S.