As the summer winds down and the school year approaches, the office becomes busy with well child exams. During those visits, the providers and medical staff get many questions about vaccines and their safety. We address many of the common questions and concerns below.
- Too many vaccines will overwhelm my baby’s immune system. Vaccines contain antigens, which are inactivated forms of the germs and viruses they protect against. During a typical day, your baby is confronted with thousands of antigens. Vaccines contain only a tiny fraction of the antigens that they encounter in their every day environment.
- Vaccines can lead to changes in my child’s development, like autism. Multiple scientific studies have shown that there is no connection between vaccines and autism. None of the ingredients in vaccines have shown a connection to the development of autism, either.
- My infant is too young to get vaccines. We can start them later, when she is old enough to tell me if she’s having a problem. Ideally, vaccines are given at a young age, before we are exposed to a disease. Infant’s and young children’s immune systems are completely able to take the antigens in the vaccine and develop immunity. Young children are more susceptible to complications if they should develop the diseases that we vaccinate against.
- We only want to do one or two shots at a time so that we can tell if there is a problems with a particular vaccine. Children do not receive any known benefits from following a schedule that delays or “spaces out” vaccines. Those who are not vaccinated on the typical schedule are at risk of developing the disease during the time that shots are delayed.
- Why does he need so many doses of some vaccines? They must not work very well. Immunity needs time to develop! Some vaccines need time to build high enough immunity, and sometimes you need an additional dose after a time period to ensure that you remain immune.
- Combination vaccines are not safe – and they don’t work as well as the individual shots. Combination vaccines protect as well as individual doses and reduce the number of needle sticks and office visits that your child needs. In fact, a few combinations are the only way that the vaccine is available, like MMR (measles-mumps-rubella); the individual shots are no longer available in the United States.
- Vaccines contain dangerous ingredients, like aluminum and mercury. Aluminum is present in tiny amounts in some vaccines; it helps the body to recognize the vaccine and begin to build up immunity. There is aluminum present in MUCH higher amounts in breast milk, formula, and many other nutritious foods that children eat. The mercury that was most commonly used was thimerosal, a mercury containing compound. No evidence exists to suggest that thimerosal was causing harm, but manufacturers removed the additive from most vaccines due to public concerns. Further, because mercury is a naturally occurring element found in the earth’s crust, air, soil, and water, we are all exposed to it. In fact, infants who are exclusively breastfed ingest more than twice the quantity of mercury that was contained in vaccines.
- She’s not feeling well today. We’ll come back and do her shots later. Unless your child has a fever greater than 101, chances are we can still do her vaccines. It is fine to get vaccinated with a mild illness like a cold, earache, or diarrhea.
- Isn’t it better to get immunity the “natural” way, like from mother’s breast milk or actually getting the disease? Babies can get temporary immunity from mother, but these antibodies do not last very long, leaving your child vulnerable to disease. If your child gets one of the diseases we vaccinate for, they will have immunity; however, these diseases also have other complications, including pneumonia, blindness, deafness, paralysis, and even hospitalizations or death.
Pediatric Practices feels VERY strongly about the importance and safety of vaccinating children. Please read our practice’s immunization policy here.