To vaccinate or not to vaccinate? That's the question that keeps coming up. According to Patrick Knowles, MD, a primary care physician with HonorHealth Medical Group, there are several good reasons to vaccinate your kids, including:
- Helping save lives by preventing disease: 70 years ago, polio paralyzed or killed thousands. Today, there are no reports of polio in this country. That's because of the use of safe and effective vaccines.
- Contributing to the protection of your community: Recent measles and whooping cough outbreaks in both Arizona and the United States reflect declining immunization rates. Meaning, fewer protected children means that diseases spread to the broader community. So your decision to vaccinate affects not only the health of your child, but also your community. By immunizing your kids by age two, you can protect both your own child and those he comes in contact with. Children under five are especially susceptible to disease because their immune systems have not built up the necessary defenses to fight infection.
- Saving time and money: Vaccinations are usually covered by insurance; low-cost immunization programs also are available. The cost of not vaccinating means running the risk of vaccine-preventable diseases, which can result in disabilities, missed work, medical bills or require long-term disability care.
- Protecting future generations: Vaccines have reduced and, in some cases, eliminated many diseases that killed or severely disabled people a few generations ago. By continuing to vaccinate your children now, and vaccinating them completely, diseases currently affecting people may be eradicated in the future. For example, vaccines eradicated smallpox worldwide; kids no longer need that vaccine. And, by vaccinating children against rubella (German measles), the risk of pregnant women passing this virus on to the child they're carrying or a newborn has decreased dramatically.
Science has worked long and hard to ensure that vaccines are safe. Although fevers can occur post-vaccination as well as tenderness and redness around the injection site, severe allergic reactions are rare. When it comes to almost all children, the benefits of being immunized against disease outweigh than the possible side effects.
Questions? Concerns? Ask your child's doctor for advice.