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How Safe Are Immunizations? Should My Child Have Them?

Family Medicine
August 2, 2019
How safe are immunizations and should my child have them?  Blog post by Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic.

Over the past few years, you may have heard discussions about the safety and effectiveness of immunizations. The topic has been in the news, and you may have heard your family or friends talking about it, too.

It’s important to know that immunizations in the United States are extremely safe and effective at preventing serious diseases.

Below, we’ll explain everything you need to know about immunization safety and why vaccines are a smart choice for your family.

What Are Immunizations and Vaccines?

Immunization is what happens when you receive a vaccine for a particular disease. A vaccine is a formula designed to stimulate your immune system to protect itself from a specific disease.

For example, a vaccine for the measles helps your immune system learn what the measles infection looks like. As a result, in the future, if you come into contact with someone who has the measles, your immune system will know what to do to protect you from catching it.

Should You Vaccinate Your Children?

Yes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that parents immunize their children according to the immunization schedules found here.

Babies should begin being immunized right away after birth because they are most susceptible to disease at this time. However, even if you didn’t have your baby immunized, you can still get your child immunized at any time. If this is the case for you, use this catch-up immunization schedule to get your child’s immunizations up-to-date.

How Do I Know for Sure That Immunizations Are Safe?

The United States Food and Drug Administration only approves vaccines that are completely safe and effective. Today, all vaccines are approved for use in the United States and can help prevent potentially dangerous and life-threatening diseases.

All vaccines are developed by top scientists and undergo numerous studies and clinical trials before they are approved for public use. You can learn more about the journey each vaccine must take in order to be approved for safe use in the United States here. In addition, ongoing safety monitoring is conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Immunization Safety Office. Learn more here.

Why Are Some People Concerned About Immunizations?

Over the years, there have been a number of particular concerns about immunizations. None of these concerns have resulted in real data suggesting that immunizations are unsafe.

However, it is understandable that you want the best protection for yourself and your family. Therefore, it can be helpful to respond to the most common concerns associated with immunizations.

These are some of the top questions people have about the safety of vaccines:

Vaccines use antigens from actual diseases in order to be effective. Is it safe to inject antigens into the body?

Let’s first explain what antigens and pathogens are.

Pathogens are viruses, bacteria, or other microorganisms that can cause a disease. Vaccines work because they tell your body’s immune system to recognize and combat particular pathogens, like rubella (German measles), pertussis (whooping cough), or polio.

But in order to do this, a vaccine must introduce a tiny amount of that pathogen into your system in the form of an antigen. Once this happens, the immune system learns how to produce antibodies to fight the pathogen and stores this information in its memory. In the future, if you encounter someone who has that pathogen, your immune system will easily be able to fight it.

For some people, this is worrisome because it appears that vaccines are injecting people with actual diseases. This is not true. The antigens in vaccines are only related to the viruses and bacteria that can cause disease. They are safe, however, and will not cause the disease.

That’s because their job is to produce an immune response in the body. Antigens actually help your body. They prompt your immune system to produce antibodies, so that it can fight off disease.

Are the additives found in vaccines safe?

There are certain ingredients used in vaccines called adjuvants. These ingredients help promote an even better immunity response in those getting the vaccine.

Over the years, there has been some concern about adjuvants. However, adjuvants have been safely used to improve vaccines in the United States for decades. There are no problems linked to the use of adjuvants in vaccines.

Will immunizations cause autism?

You may have heard rumors that vaccines can cause autism spectrum disorder, or ASD, in children. According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no link between immunizations and autism. The ingredients in approved vaccines will not cause this condition in your child.

What if my child faints when they get a vaccine? Will they have a seizure?

It is possible to faint after a vaccination, especially after three particular adolescent vaccines: Tdap, HPV, and MCV4. Fainting after a vaccine has no lasting effects, however.

Even though some people may jerk or twitch if they faint after a vaccine, this is not a seizure. Fainting simply happens sometimes, and scientists believe it is because of the use of a needle and the vaccination process itself.

Just make sure that your child is seated during the immunization process to avoid them falling and being injured if fainting occurs.

Will my baby die of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome if they have vaccines?

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS, can occur in babies who are 2 to 4 months in age. This is also the time period when babies need to receive important vaccines. This has caused some to worry as to if there’s a link between sudden infant death syndrome and vaccines. However, according to numerous safety reviews and research reviews, no link has been found between this condition and the administration of vaccines.

What If I Want to Know More About the Safety of Immunizations?

If you have further concerns relating to the safety and effectiveness of immunizations, speak with your provider. They will be happy to answer your questions and explain the safety of the immunization process.