Discuss Vaccination Concerns with a Doctor

Filed under: Health & Safety: Babies, Health & Safety: Big Kids


Speak with a doctor if you have vaccination concerns. Credit: ad-vantage, Flickr

Our immune system fights off bacteria or viruses daily.

According to "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Vaccinations," a "vaccine contains a disease-causing virus, bacterium or bacterial toxin that has been killed or biologically changed, but that still causes your innate immune system to respond and call in your adaptive immune system for help."

Ingredients in a vaccine might include manufacturing agents, preservatives, stabilizers or elements used to strengthen a response to the vaccine.

Medically, an argument for vaccination is that preventing the disease is better than having to treat it. A high vaccination rate helps prevent outbreaks of many diseases, particularly in medically vulnerable populations, such as those receiving chemotherapy. Check out the required vaccines for your state.
With the worldwide eradication of smallpox and the decreasing incidence diseases such as polio, vaccines have done much good. In the future, "Vaccinations" reports, vaccines may provide protection from diseases as varied as malaria,HIV/AIDS, cancer and select addictions.

Although children are now vaccinated against more diseases than in previous decades, many of the vaccinations are combined, lowering the number of shots required.

But some families question a vaccination's safety or necessity. Far from an exhaustive list, a few concerns are mentioned below. Always discuss your medical questions with a trusted medical care provider.

  • Although testing is part of the equation when introducing a vaccination, sometimes a person may have a reaction or side effect to a vaccine. In fighting a bacteria or virus, a person may appear to become ill from the vaccine, while some vaccines may not be effective for certain people. The Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) was established 20 years ago to gather information from the health care industry about the effects of vaccines to help ensure safety. A special federal court has been set up to hear claims of injuries resulting from vaccinations.
  • One con mentioned in the vaccine debate is the theoretical connection between vaccinations and conditions caused by a vaccination, for example asthma or autism. While medical links have not been proven, the controversy continues. For example, many cite the 1998 Wakefield study of 12 children as proof of a link among a gastrointestinal disease, autism and the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccination. However, a 2002 study of 500,000 children found that autism occurred at the same rate between those vaccinated for MMR and those not. Recently, it was disclosed that a lawyer, who went on to represent children from the 1998 study, financially contributed to Wakefield's initial study.
  • Another con has been the ingredients used within vaccines, such as thimerosal, which contains mercury. However, since 2001, according to "Vaccinations," childhood vaccines "either do not contain thimerosal or contain only trace amounts of it."
To evaluate the need for your family to vaccinate, discuss any medical questions or information you may have with your doctor.

Related: H1N1 Vaccine: Questions and Answers

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.