For years, the ongoing controversial question among parents has been “to vaccine or not to vaccine your children”? It can lead you to wonder what are other parents doing, and if they have valid reasons for their decisions? Another question may be what is the risk versus benefit? It is important to consider the positive statistics when considering your family’s decision. The CDC reports that at least 3,454,269,356 doses of vaccines were distributed in the United States (U.S.), which is roughly over 287 million doses per year.1 Each year, there are two to three million less deaths because of the protection vaccines offer. Unfortunately, there are still more than three million people that die from vaccine-preventable disease each year worldwide, especially young children.1 In addition to the numbers, why vaccinate?
Immunizations protect your children against more potentially deadly diseases than ever before.2 The recommended infant and child/adolescent immunization schedule protects against a variety of diseases such as Diphtheria Tetanus and Acellular Pertussis, Polio, Measles Mumps Rubella, Hepatitis A and B, Varicella, Pneumococcal, Rotavirus, etc.3 These diseases had devastating consequences and killed millions just a few generations ago, but most of them have been eradicated due to the brilliant advances in immunization research and technology.
Vaccines, like any other medication, have undergone strict and lengthy testing for safety and efficacy before being approved to treat conditions. These studies and post surveillance help debunk the misconceptions that may scare patients. Although vaccines have some minor side effects such as discomfort or pain, redness, and tenderness at the site of the injection, it is more tolerable than the alternative of the severity a preventable disease can cause to the body. The benefit overweighs the risk when considering severe, rare side effects or even developing a preventable disease.2
Vaccines are not 100% effective, but when used properly in the right population they have a very high rate of success. On occasion, organisms mutate and develop into infectious strands that our current vaccinations don’t protect against. Manufacturers are usually able to alter current vaccines to cover new superbugs. Some valid reasons to avoid vaccines include allergies, weakened immune systems, and age.2 This emphasizes the importance for all patients that do qualify for vaccination to receive in order to help protect those that do not qualify but still should have protection. Don’t you want to help protect your family, friends, and loved ones?
One consideration you may not have thought of is that some children that have not been vaccinated cannot attend certain schools, daycares, camps, etc. This could potentially lead to child development issues, prolonged disabilities, and increase financial burden. The recommended immunization schedule is covered under most insurance plans, but without coverage, the Vaccines for Children program (VFC) provides vaccines at no cost to children from low-income families.2
An important way to give back to your community is to increase vaccine awareness through education. Help be an advocate to other parents and share that the positive aspects of childhood vaccinations far outweigh the risks of not vaccinating. If you personally feel unsure, it can be helpful to do additional research and ask questions to healthcare providers about their experiences and patient success stories. Help protect the U.S. against outbreaks, pandemics, and epidemics by getting your children vaccinated according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.