There’s no greater joy than helping your baby grow up healthy and happy. Giving your baby the recommended immunizations by age two is the best way to protect him from 14 serious diseases, like measles and whooping cough. Ron Chapman, M.D., Director of the California Department of Public Health and State Health Officer states, “The incidence of whooping cough [pertussis] increased in 2013. In addition, there have been cases of measles [imported by travelers] and meningococcal disease. We are concerned about the increasing numbers of parents who decline some or all immunizations for their children. This puts not only these children at risk of infection with vaccine-preventable diseases but also others in their community who cannot be vaccinated.” Below are some highlights from the CDC’s answers to common concerns:
Q: Are vaccines safe?
A: Yes. Vaccines are very safe. Currently, 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 risks and benefits of vaccines?
A: The disease-prevention benefits of getting vaccines are much greater than the possible side effects for almost all children. Without vaccines, your child is at risk for getting seriously ill and suffering pain, disability and even death from diseases like measles and whooping cough. The main risks are side effects, which are almost always mild (redness and swelling at the injection site) and go away within a few days. Serious side effects, such as severe allergic reaction, are very rare and doctors and clinic staff are trained to deal with them.
Q: Why are so many doses needed for each vaccine?
A: Depending on the vaccine, more than one dose is needed to build high enough immunity to prevent disease, boost immunity that fades over time, make sure people who did not get immunity from a first dose are protected, or protect against germs that change over time, like the flu.
NOTE: If your child misses a shot, you don’t need to start over, just go back to your child’s doctor for the next shot. Talk with your child’s doctor if you have questions about vaccines.